Johnson County officials are seeking a grant writer

BY KATIE HEINE | JULY 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Johnson County officials want to hire a part-time grant writer as a means of capitalizing on an array of funding opportunities. It would be the first such position for Johnson County.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said the county has discussed implementing a grant-specialist position for several years because they know there are plenty of funding possibilities available to the area that officials haven’t had the resources to capture.

“I know there are a lot of grants out there, and sometimes our department heads don’t have the time to find them all,” Sullivan said.

Individual departments are currently in charge of seeking out and applying for grant opportunities. And while many departments would likely continue to be involved, a grant specialist would ensure funding sources doesn’t go unmissed, Sullivan said.

And though the position — a part-time, 20-hour per week maximum — would cost the county an additional $22.21 per hour, Andy Johnson, executive assistant to the Board of Supervisors, said the position would likely end up paying for itself.

“The idea is that we’ll be finding more sources of revenue because of this person,” said Johnson, whom the grant specialist would report to.

The application was made public about three weeks ago, and Johnson said “a pool of applications” have come in, but officials want to dedicate time to the selection process. The application was also made available on Craig’s List.

Because grant applications are often extensive and complex, the individual’s duties would be dedicated to searching for grants, preparing applications, and helping others with grants, Johnson said.

“The person will be asked to research grant opportunities because there are a lot of sources of funding — state, federal, and private — that sometimes we are unaware of and don’t have someone to look into it,” said Johnson said.

While the employee would fall under the Board of Supervisors, the position would be beneficial to all departments, Johnson said.

One of the hopes, he said, is to find funding sources that would benefit the county, but don’t necessarily fall within any one department.

County officials looked to Linn County when developing the job description; the neighboring county has a similar position.

Joi Bergman was hired as the grants and communication manager for Linn County in 2005, though the position had been established arpimd 10 years before that. Much of her time was spent seeking out funding opportunities and preparing the applications for the county.

“It’s great to have someone on staff to react to those opportunities when they come up,” Bergman said. “But it’s even better to have someone looking for those opportunities and preparing for them before they come up.”

After the flood of 2008, however, her title evolved into communications director. Bergman’s priorities focus more on providing residents with consistent and reliable information about the county today, but she said the county has been discussing re-establishing a position dedicated to grant writing.

Regardless, Bergman said having a person who knows about grants on staff is “definitely a value.”

“I have not talked to anyone in [Johnson County] about the position, but if they’ve determined this is a need for them, I could certainly see why that would be possible,” she said.

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