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SD County Supervisors Choose Who Gets Community Enhancement Grants

More than 300 nonprofits are parading through county chambers, asking for financial support from Community Enhancement Funds. They range from the Alpine Women’s Club to the United States Open Sandcastle Committee, from the Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce to the University Heights Development Corporation.

Each group has a couple of minutes to make their case to the board, and the line of applicants will keep on coming until Tuesday at noon.

The requests total nearly $10 million. But the pot of money available is $2.5 million. It comes from the county’s share of tourist taxes (TOT).

Each supervisor has a share of the money to hand out: about $500,000.

The Community Enhancement Fund is a separate program from the Neighborhood Reinvestment fund, which critics have called a slush fund. But many of the same organizations are applying for it.

Last year the supervisors reduced the amount of neighborhood reinvestment money they could hand out from $2 million to $1 million, at least until the economy improves. They also tightened up reporting requirements after Supervisor Pam Slater-Price was fined for not declaring tickets from the San Diego Opera, an organization on her funding list.

Neighborhood reinvestment money is geared toward supporting community, social and cultural activities. Community enhancement grants from TOT revenue are to support tourism, stimulate the economy and generate jobs. In practice, groups applying for money often apply to both funds.

The estimated TOT money for next year is a little lower than this year’s revenue: $2.7 million.

Each supervisor’s decision of who will get a grant will be part of the overall county budget, which has to be finalized by the end of June.

Public testimony on the rest of the $4.8 billion budget starts Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the County Administration building.

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