Grant funds have worth

Published 10:42 am Monday, February 12, 2018


Grant money helps many counties and municipalities pay for projects, services and programs they otherwise might not be able to afford.

Granted (pardon the pun), some people consider government-provided grant funds as “free” money, while others consider such grant funds as taxpayer-generated revenue that is not free, which could be true in the case of grants from government agencies. Some people don’t want taxpayer money dispensed in the form of grants to organizations that provide programs and services with which they disapprove. Grant funds from sources such as private foundations, private trusts and other non-public entities are generated by contributions, endowments and the like. Those grants tend to draw less criticism concerning how they are allocated.

Although there are cases where government-provided grant funds have been spent on strange projects, government grants help provide affordable housing, convert empty and deteriorating buildings into places that house productive enterprises that generate jobs and tax revenues and provide needed capital to acquire equipment needed by rural fire departments so they can better serve their communities.

Some people bemoan spending grant funds on a specific project or program. They would rather see that money spend elsewhere. However, many grants funds are awarded under specific requirements. In other words, a local government has little, if any, discretion when it comes to how those grant funds can be spent.

Grant funds can help counties and municipalities from raising taxes to pay for some services and programs they provide. That new playground that’s accessible to handicapped children might not have been built if it were not for grant funds. That new fishing pier was partially paid for with grant funds. That new brewpub might not have opened its doors and hired 15 people without the assistance of grant funds.

For Washington, a penny on its property-tax rate generates about $83,000 in revenue. So, in theory, if the city were forced to spend city dollars on a project because it lost $83,000 in grant funds, it might have to raise the property-tax rate by a penny.

In many cases, using grant funds to pay for a project makes better sense than raising taxes to pay for it.