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City Council puts $250K literacy, gang prevention grant on hold

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The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento will have to wait two weeks longer to launch key literacy and gang-prevention programs after a surprise move by City Council Tuesday halting the acceptance of a $250,000 grant to fund the programs.

Sheedy asked for the agenda item on the grant to be pushed back until she could get more information from City Manager John Shirey about details of the grant.

“I haven’t been briefed on it, and I have a lot of questions,” Sheedy said Tuesday. “I have questions about how it was done and the method of a private individual doing it instead of the city.”

The item was initially on the City Council’s consent calendar, which typically contains non-controversial items approved without discussion at City Council meetings.

The grant – called a CalGRIP – is coming from the California Emergency Management Agency to support gang-prevention and literacy projects in Sacramento that have been developed with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento.

Joann Cummins, Sheedy’s district director, said Wednesday that Sheedy pulled the item because of concerns stemming from previous CalGRIP grants the city has received.

“These are reimbursement grants – you spend the money and submit an invoice to get reimbursed,” Cummins said. “We’re good at getting grants, but not great at compliance.”

Cummins said problems with compliance requirements such as timely submission of invoices and proper documentation caused the city to be denied reimbursement last year – resulting in a $247,000 hit to the Parks and Recreation Department operating budget.

Cal-GRIP grants are generally for a two year term and the $383,000 grant for fiscal year 2010-11 was used to implement the sacramento Safe Community Partnership, a program designed to reduce gun-related violence.

“This came at a time when community centers were closed and we were asking volunteers to help with park maintenance,” Cummins said.

“Given the problems we have had with CalGRIP (grants) in the past,” Cummins said, “(Sheedy) wants to make sure the city doesn’t get hurt again.”

The 2012 grant was written by Capt. Katherine Lester, a contracts specialist with the Sacramento Police Department, and will be managed by the office of City Councilman Jay Schenirer, according to the grant application.

Schenirer confirmed the compliance issues that the city faced with last year’s CalGRIP grant.

“There was a problem with administration (last year) – too many people managing the program,” Schenirer said Wednesday. “So, we put $60,000 into the (2012) grant to hire a single administrator to ensure that something like that doesn’t happen again.”

Lester told the City Council Tuesday that, although the delay in accepting the grant is only two weeks, the grant must have formal City Council approval before any grant funds can be received to start the programs the grant will fund.

“(The grant) application has gone through and we’ve been granted the funds – we just have to say yes to receive (the money),” Schenirer said.

The CalGRIP grant item will be on the City Council agenda for the May 2 meeting, City Clerk Shirley Concolino said Tuesday. Cummins confirmed Wednesday that Sheedy has contacted Shirey’s office to discuss her concerns before the item appears on the agenda again.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow heron Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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