Polk accepts $1 million grant

Published 8:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2018

Budget amendment approved to accept state funding for WEG

COLUMBUS — Polk County has $1 million to spend on public safety for the World Equestrian Games.

The games are scheduled for Sept. 11-23 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, with the county applying for and receiving a $1 million grant from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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Polk County Commissioners met Monday and accepted the grant and approved a budget amendment.

Polk County Finance Director Sandra Hughes said the funding will be placed in a special, non-department account and will not intermingle with the county’s general fund.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said the county needs to be careful how it spends the money.

“This is state money from taxpayers across the whole state,” Gasperson said; “let’s face it. And we have to be really careful how we spend it.”

County Manager Marche Pittman said his intent is to document everything. He used a fire department as an example. Pittman said if a fire department needed to add staff for the two weeks of the games, the county will require time sheets and documentation showing what each person actually worked before being reimbursed. Pittman said departments will be reimbursed directly from the grant account.

Hughes added that none of the money will be expended without county manager approval.

Gasperson thanked Emergency Management Director Bobby Arledge, Pittman and other county employees for their work on the funding.

The grant requires no match from the county and was approved by North Carolina Legislators a few months ago in the state’s budget.

“Polk County can decide how to spend these funds, as long as the funds are used for the World Equestrian Games to be held in September 2018 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center,” said North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service Grants and Contracts Manager Melissa Madrid.

The county will have to abide by performance and financial reports per the state contract, including a narrative and financial report with actual grant expenditures, which will be due no later than June 30, 2019.

Pittman said the group working on the games has always focused on protecting Polk County residents.

“The mission statement of this group has been to obviously keep folks that are coming here safe, but also to protect the people that are here now,” Pittman told commissioners. “That’s been a priority and that’s not just a priority for our local folks, but for other folks and the state folks and everybody coming in.”