Agency to Help Allocate County Domestic Funding

Franklin County commissioners hope the appointment of a local taxpayer-funded board to help allocate domestic violence funding will prevent further problems of the vital money sitting unused.

It was recently discovered that Franklin County’s domestic violence fund has been sitting idle for the past few years and not supporting shelters like it is supposed to.

To prevent further oversights and to make sure the funds are put to use each year, the county commission Tuesday appointed the Franklin County Children and Families Community Resource Board to make recommendations in terms of how the money should be allocated each year.

The money in the fund comes from an additional $5 charge that people pay on marriage licenses.

There have been a couple of reasons cited as to why the funds sat unused.

County Counselor Mark Vincent said shelters have simply not submitted applications for the funding.

Meanwhile, Annie Schulte, the executive director of the Franklin County Community Resource Board, said there were communication problems between her agency and the county government over getting the funds allocated.

A county commission document shows that the commission appointed the resource board in 2012 to allocate the funding. But Schulte said last week that she was not aware that the resource board had been appointed in 2012 to oversee the funds.

To prevent further confusion, Vincent said the board will be automatically reappointed each year to make recommendations on how the domestic violence funds should be used.

Second District Commissioner Mike Schatz said it was simply an oversight that the funds did not get used the past few years.

The good news is that the county did not lose the dollars just because they were siting idle in the fund.

But commissioners said last week that they want to get the money that has been accumulating allocated quickly so it can start helping people who need domestic violence services.

State statute says shelters must apply for the funding before Oct. 1 of each year. While that deadline has past, Schatz said last week that he thinks some of the funding can still be allocated this year.

County Auditor Tammy Vemmer discovered the funds were sitting in the fund unused and recently reported the fact to the county commission. Officials estimate that the fund generates $3,600 to $3,800 a year.

The Franklin County Community Resource Board also oversees a quarter-cent sales tax approved in 2008 for children’s services. It administers the Putting Kids First Children’s Services Fund. The agency has an all-volunteer board appointed by the Franklin County Commission.