New Milford gets more selective with money for nonprofits

Photo of Katrina Koerting

NEW MILFORD — Nonprofit organizations will continue to receive town money, but they will now have to go through a selection process.

This is the first time the town has implemented a formal application and selection process for nonprofit organizations. It is modeled on the methods used by United Way, which councilwoman Katy Francis holds a leadership position in.

The new process comes after years of deliberations during the budget process on how much public money a nonprofit should get and what criteria puts one nonprofit above another.

Previous budget discussions included concerns from council members that the organizations could be selected based on individual council member’s interests.

This new process is designed to remove that subjectivity.

“Now we have a process for that,” said Mayor Pete Bass.

Council members said this will also take the politics out of it. The goal is to be able to award money to groups to “help change the lives of community residents,” according to the affiliation agreement. All of the grants are awarded based on available money and the organization’s performance.

“It will be like any other place where you do this,” said Councilwoman Katy Francis.

Notices will go out to nonprofit organizations soon, letting them know they will have to qualify for funding. The recipients will be selected by a committee, which is different from the committee that created the process and criteria.

This excludes organizations the town is required to give money to, including the Candlewood Lake Authority, the Children’s Center, fire departments and the Housatonic Valley Association, Francis said.

An eligible organization must be a 501 (c)(3) and governed by a local volunteer board of directors that meets at least quarterly. The nonprofits must also submit financial audits and other reports to the town, as well as update council on major changes to staff and programs.

A representative from the group must also be present during the budget hearings, which isn’t always done and something council has asked for before.

Applicants will have to describe the service or program the money will be used for and how it will affect the community. They will also have to show how to measure the program or service’s success. The money can’t be used for lobbying or political matters.