Massena village trustees are sending out a Request for Proposals for firms that are interested in providing grant-writing services. Strategic Development Specialists LLC has been performing the service since the company was first contracted by the village in May 2015. Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Village trustees are seeking firms that are interested in providing grant-writing services.

Strategic Development Specialists LLC has been performing the service since the company was first contracted by the village in May 2015.

During a 2020 meeting, Massena trustees had authorized a one-year extension to the annual professional services agreement at $4,500 a month for June, July and August 2020, and $4,250 per month for the remainder of the term. Funding for the service comes from the village budget’s economic development line item.

During a meeting last July, trustees agreed to a six-month extension, running from June 16 to Dec. 16, at a rate of $4,250 per month

Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire told trustees this month that they should issue a Request for Proposals.

“I’ve had conversations with the mayor and the administrator and with other trustees separately. Our contract with Strategic Development, our current grant writer, is up at the end of this year. I think it would probably be appropriate to go out for an RFP to get a better scope on exactly what we need,” Mr. LeBire said. “We’re still going to chase grant money, but there’s also an administrative side of things that we have to look at and make sure we’re managing these grants wisely.”

Trustees are holding a special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, and that’s expected to be one of the agenda items.

“I think it would be great if we could have at that meeting perhaps an RFP for the board’s consideration to go out so we have a better understanding of what we’re seeking proposals on in terms of what these activities are moving forward, beyond just a general grant-writing retainer and then give the board the ability to see those proposals,” Mr. LeBire said.

Trustees will review a boilerplate RFP from Village Administrator Monique N. Chatland, who will also oversee the grant writing.

“If we can kind of tweak our RFP to meet our needs, I think that’s what’s best for us,” Mayor Gregory M. Paquin said.

Mr. LeBire said the village has been successful in grant writing, despite a limited staff. Among recent awards are $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding, as well as other grants like Regional Economic Development Council funds that are assisting in redeveloping locations likes the former JJ Newberry store. He said that was “some significant money as well.”

“So, things are definitely happening. Especially when you look at some comparative communities that have won these types of grants in the past. They have a larger staff. We run lean and mean,” Mr. LeBire said. “That’s a good problem to have, but I think there are probably still some professional services needed. It’s just a matter of what they are and at what cost.”

Trustees had originally contracted with Strategic Development Specialists in May 2015 on a one-year agreement to perform grant-writing and consulting services.

Village officials had issued an RFP for grant-writing services, and Strategic Development Specialists was one of four firms that submitted proposals to the village to provide services for one year.

The firms were invited to make presentations to board members during a special meeting on May 26, 2015. After reviewing the written proposals and considering the presentations, trustees opted to sign an agreement with Strategic Development Specialists.

The company’s proposal for services included consultation with the mayor, other village officials, department heads, staff and community partners to determine funding needs, prioritize projects and review opportunities.

The company also researches funding opportunities and coordinates them with the projects and priorities of the village; prepares and submits grant funding applications and follows through with the process; and follows up and assists with the administration of grants and funding.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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