Northampton to apply for grant

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

JACKSON — The Northampton County Board of Commissioners has approved a firm to provide grant application preparation services for Enviva.

On Monday, the commissioners selected Progressive Resources and Opportunities (PRO) to provide grant application preparation services for a 2011 Community Development Block Grant-Economic Development (CDBG-ED) in support of the wood pellets manufacturing project that was recently announced.

The county solicited proposals from qualified firms and individuals for the preparation of an application for CDGB-ED funds in the amount of $930,000. The funds will be used to finance the extension of public water and sewer lines for the new mill to be located in the Northampton County Commerce Park near Interstate 95. The total cost of the infrastructure is estimated to cost $3.6 million.

County Manager Wayne Jenkins noted three proposals in all were received after advertising and on Aug. 3 a review panel evaluated the proposals, assessing them on six measures. The review panel recommended PRO.

During discussion, the commissioners expressed concern over other firms receiving the same opportunity.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill questioned the fee amount submitted by the other firms.

Jenkins said PRO submitted a $3,800 fee while the others submitted were $5,000 and $5,800. The CDBG-ED grant would only pay up to $5,000 for preparation services.

Spruill questioned if PRO knew of the $5,000 limit.

“PRO is in the grant administrative business and so they know the guidelines of putting out a proposal,” said Jenkins.

Commission Chairwoman Fannie Greene asked how they would know the $5,000 figure.

Jenkins responded that if he owned a company preparing a proposal, he would call the Division of Community Assistance.

“It’s not the county’s responsibility to educate the potential agencies or organizations that want to (submit a proposal),” he said.

He added the fee information is probably available on the DCA website and the fee only accounts for 10 percent of the total score in the assessment by the review panel.

“It sounds like someone didn’t do their homework,” said Greene.

“Either they didn’t do their homework or they couldn’t do that work for that amount of money, their personnel exceeded the cost of that amount,” Jenkins said.

After further discussion the commissioners voted to expand the review panel that assesses incoming proposals to include a commissioner.

In a separate motion, the board voted to accept the proposal from PRO.