BEATRICE – Two southeast Nebraska counties are pondering the joint hiring of a grant writer…to ease the pressure on county officials filling that role.
Members of the Seward County Commissioners met with the Gage County Board Wednesday, on the prospect of each county kicking in $45,000 to hire a grant writer who would work remotely.

For Gage County, Supervisor Emily Haxby has led grant-seeking efforts to aid road and bridge projects.  "It does not eliminate everything we have to do. There's still a lot of stuff for us to do...we still have to write, we still have to gather information. This would just kind of help...for example, on the last RAISE grant....I got about two hours of sleep per night for about twe weeks putting that together, and that's not conducive for getting the rest of my stuff done. We were doing that during calving and I had to catch up with twenty calves, to tag."

Seward County Commissioners Misty Ahmic and Raegan Hain spoke about the process their county has gone through in seeking grants. Both are deeply involved in writing grants on behalf of their county.  (Ahmic).."It's not just the grants themselves. It's the administrative part of that, so there's many hours that are spent doing the grants but also collecting the data and the information needed for those grants. We didn't apply for the RAISE grant, but we did apply for the BIP, which is the Bridge Investment Program grant....collecting data, survey information, a community meeting....and that's just information that we pulled...(Hain).."I would say just from my perspective, I spent probably 40 hours on my own pulling data, driving bridges, taking pictures....being able to submit that information to the engineering firm that actually wrote the grant for us. Not to mention the editing that we did....was a significant amount of time."

Seward County has a five-member commission, while Gage County has a seven-member Board of Supervisors. The counties often compete with other counties that have a larger staff or tax base in the search for funding assistance.

Gage County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says there is some interest in setting up the relationship. "Whether we're a client, Seward's a client or whoever else is a client...instead of having an hourly position or something we have to monitor or manage directly, we're managing results instead of the person, every day."

Seward County is beginning budget hearings next week, while Gage County is also in the process of formulating the next fiscal year budget.