Council Committee to Discuss Discretionary Fund Audit Report

The Louisville Metro Council’s Government Accountability Committee will meet Tuesday to discuss recommendations from a troubling audit report that found a lack of oversight in discretionary grant spending.

Last month, a review of Neighborhood Development Fund grants from the past two fiscal years showed half of the $1.9 million grants awarded during that period lacked proper documentation. It also found inconsistencies and a vague criteria for non-profit groups receiving city funds, including over $6,500 in funds that were spent out of compliance with Metro Government rules.

The audit specifically mentioned Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, who faces an ethics complaint after a series of controversies were reported about her office’s discretionary spending.

Councilman Jerry Miller, R-19, is chairman of the government accountability committee. He says the panel will address the community’s growing concerns about how those grants are approved and monitored, but told WFPL the committee will avoid any mention of the Shanklin case specifically.

“I think it will be good for the public to hear the recommendations and the findings, and how we are going to begin making the changes in the process to hopefully restore the public’s confidence,” he says.

Last December, council members tightened rules on discretionary spending after the removal of former Councilwoman Judy Green, but the audit recommends lawmakers taken further steps along with the city's Office of Management and Budget enact a stricter system.

Among the dozens of recommendations the internal auditor advises to the finance department are: create a database of all non-profits that receive NDF, a centralized office to administer and monitor grants, reporting standards in the grant agreement and requiring non-profit groups create a separate bank account to deposit taxpayer funds.

“The purpose of the discussion is not to question individual NDFs, but indeed to make sure the process under which funds are being dispersed is a good process, it’ well-documented and we’re not giving new grants to people who are not in compliance,” says Miller.

The committee will hear testimony from city Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland and Internal Auditor Ingram Quick about the report’s recommendations.

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