With cuts to city staff and the inability of a previously contracted firm to perform, the City of Oakdale has decided to go with a local, smaller firm that has a proven track record in the area of obtaining city grants from state and federal agencies.
“Historically, we’ve tried to use staff, but the amount of time required to successfully write a professional grant needs someone with expertise and time,” said Community Development Services Director Danelle Stylos during the proposal to the Oakdale City Council on Aug 1. “With cuts to personnel that is not available to us right now.”
The council approved the grant-writing contract with Augustine Planning Associates of Sonora that calls for no more than $20,000 to be paid through June 2012.
“We want to go with someone more local and would be more successful than in the past,” said Stylos.
California Consulting of Fresno was retained by the city in December 2009 for $2,500 per month to write state and federal grants. Regardless of working on a total of 24 grants over an 18-month period that could have resulted in more than $27 million in funding potential for the city, that firm was not able to secure any of the awards.
“California Consulting was challenging,” said Stylos. “They would present us a list of potential grants that we would select from and have to do the bulk of the work.”
Stylos pointed out that Amy Augustine, owner of the new contract company, had already done a number of contract projects assisting the planning division for the city and wouldn’t need “her hand held” as she has already worked with city staff and knew the “ins-and-outs” of Oakdale.
Dianne Bennett of Augustine Planning Associates joins Augustine for Oakdale’s grant writing endeavors.
“We team up because I do mostly planning and natural resources and Dianne is on the community services and health services side,” said Augustine.
“She’s the scientist, I’m not,” added Bennett.
Augustine and her firm have been responsible for obtaining over $9 million in grants for agencies such as Tuolumne County, the Lower Mokelumne River Watershed, Sonora Chamber of Commerce, City of Angels Camp, and University of Pacific.
Stylos pointed out that department heads for the fire department, police department, public works, and community development have already identified a list of grants they’d like to see the firm go after.
The funding for the contract will be derived from the economic development fund with no impact on the city’s general fund.
A condition of the contract by the city is that Stylos would give periodic reports on Augustine’s progress and success rate. Also, the council desired that any administrative cost associated with the grant writing be recovered from the grant.
“Considering the capabilities of Ms. Augustine, this is a very cost-effective way to pursue grant funding to see if this is a successful strategy,” stated Stylos.