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Growth Council operating expenses on par

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

The Grant County Economic Growth Council approved its recent tax audit and continued a conversation on community message and perception during their monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The draft of the tax audit was presented by Susan Berghoff, certified public accountant and senior manager at Dulin, Ward and DeWald Inc., in Fort Wayne. According to the minutes of the Growth Council’s executive session on May 1, Berghoff said the council was “well within” Better Business Bureau’s suggested percentage of operating expenses after she reviewed the council’s preliminary draft of its 2017 tax audit and 990 tax form.

The BBB suggests that businesses, such as the Growth Council, spend “at least 65 percent of its annual total expenses on program activities,” which is listed in its standards for charity accountability.

In 2017, the Growth Council spent about $443,260 on operating expenses, including program services and supporting expenses. While total revenues and assets had increased since 2016, according to the report, operating expenses have fallen from $512,000 to $443,260. This is likely because of the decrease in spending in marketing, a $12,000 difference from last year, and a decrease in expenses accrued from government grants and contracts.

Tim Eckerle, executive director of the Growth Council, said the official tax audit is due to be released shortly.

The council is offering its support to Franklin Electric’s Gas City location, which is facing as many as 50 layoffs in the coming weeks. Growth Council will hold a closed job fair to the individuals being laid off on May 24.

Eckerle said the layoff could have a ripple effect in other communities, but said “it’s hard to find a facility that doesn’t have a hiring sign,” in Gas City.

The council also approved a privacy policy for the Grants for Grads program during the meeting Tuesday.

The policy details that the Growth Council may collect personal information, excluding nonpublic information like Social Security Number and demographic data, and offer it to other pre-authorized institutions.

Members of the Growth Council continued to focus on ways to communicate their message to the community. At the April meeting, in which members discussed the organization’s perception among residents, several responses indicated that it was “unclear” what the Growth Council does for Grant County, according to meeting minutes. Comments collected from members also noted that it’s not widely known that the council helps start businesses, but also assists with job retention and investment. 

Growth Council meetings have moved to Hontz Hall in Gas City, located at 307 W. South H St. The next board meeting will take place in Hontz Hall at 7:30 a.m. on June 26.