SECA Commission Wants to Increase Grant Money

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With more applicants and less available funds last year, the SECA Commission chose to reduce funding for city services for Ribfest, the Last Fling, and many other events that apply for the grants.

“The city service requests portion of what we had would have been 70 percent of our allocatable funds and there are so many deserving events that support a diverse set of our community that we wanted to allocate money to those events and less toward the city service aspect,” said SECA Commission Chairman Rick Grimes.

But when those recommendations got to City Council, they were adjusted so that Ribfest and the Last Fling would receive full funding of their requests.

That left a $42,000 deficit in SECA’s budget that the commission redistributed by taking chunks of funding out of 19 other requests.

Also at the meeting, the commission discussed several questions surrounding the future of the SECA grant fund.

The big change is that the commission wants to increase the current $1.9 million cap currently on the fund.

“If the tax revenue was increased by five percent in a given year, we know the pie is split up, but that five percent increase should be given to the SECA portion as well and hopefully some of that would trickle down to the commission itself,” said Grimes.

And if the city plans to fully fund Ribfest and the Last Fling every year, the commission wants those events off their agenda.

“Those should be moved out of our deliberations as well because we’re not approving those on an annual basis,” said Grimes. “They have been approved separately outside of this commission.”

SECA applicants and Naperville residents also raised questions they want addressed.

“They want to have a rubric as to how judgment is placed on each application,” said Naperville Resident Mary Lou Wehrli. “There’s no sense if you’re applying – how do you know how you’re going to be valued?”

Other issues discussed at the meeting include balancing applications for capital improvement projects against special events, and whether or not there should be limits for how long organizations can receive SECA funds for.

All of these topics will be tackled in a City Council workshop about the SECA grant on February 26.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.