Dustin Pyles of VAZA Consulting LLC, left, is quizzed by Brookfield Trustees Shannon Devitz and Dan Suttles.

Dustin Pyles of VAZA Consulting LLC, left, is quizzed by Brookfield Trustees Shannon Devitz and Dan Suttles.

Brookfield trustees have hired VAZA Consulting LLC, the same firm that advises Brookfield Local schools, to help with identifying and applying for grants and to perform business consulting services.

The 11-month contract, which started Feb. 1, gets the township an average of two to three days a month of work for $1,985 a month, $21,835 for the life of the contract.

VAZA has secured nearly $2 million in grants for Brookfield Local schools and has received glowing reviews from school administrators and board members. In addition to securing grants, VAZA has helped the school district meet legislators and other government officials and bring people such as Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague to the school, school officials said.

“This is purely going after grant-writing opportunities, PR, economic development and hopefully trying to get some people to move in here, get some things happening around the township,” said Trustee Shannon Devitz. “Just a different approach. The school utilizes them right now and we’re hopefully piggy backing off of what they have done.”

VAZA’s contract proposal said the amount of money the township will pay is a “substantial discount” because of the “significant collaboration and partnership opportunities (that) exist for the township and other local and regional organizations with whom VAZA is already engaged.”

Devitz said her initial interest is getting grant money for improvements to Brookfield Township Community Park on Stewart Sharon Road and sidewalks, but she also mentioned the trustees could apply for workforce grants and host training sessions for members of the community.

Resident Tim Radachy asked if VAZA could help the township find money to increase police presence at the park and better staff the fire department so that Station 51 on Addison Road at Broadway Avenue and Route 82 could be opened more regularly.

“If there are grants available that would fit our safety services, yeah, he’ll do that for us,” Devitz said, referring to VAZA CEO Dustin Pyles. “But, my goal was just to kinda do township-related stuff, stuff down at the park, maybe sidewalks.”

The trustees held two public meetings with Pyles, including one attended by school officials and township department heads.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but I see this as an investment,” said Trustee Mark Ferrara. “What’s nice about it – if they’re not productive or if they’re not working with us, we end the contract. No one wants to spend money, but this is an investment.”

“I know it’s a lot of money,” Devitz said. “I know this is something different. I know that people aren’t used to this, but this is bigger than just grant writing, I feel. I am going to bust my butt and try and make this a success.”

Trustee Dan Suttles voted to hire VAZA, but did so with reservations. He said there are no guarantees any grants would be awarded; “It’s a tough road on grant writing.” 

He said he worries about the township being able to afford any matches required by the grants or the township’s ability to find in-kind services that could offset any cash matches. He said he doesn’t want to waste time securing a grant the township can’t afford and has to turn back to the funder.

Pyles has said that part of his job is dissuading officials from going after grants that he doesn’t think are suitable for their goals or beyond their ability to administer.

“The identified opportunities should align with the township’s strategic goals and objectives, ensuring they are relevant and beneficial to the organization’s mission,” Pyles said in his proposal to the township.

Pyles has been given a copy of the township’s comprehensive plan, Devitz said.

Suttles admitted he is skeptical about trying something the township has never done before. He thanked Devitz for bringing the idea of hiring VAZA to the board.

“You gotta think outside the box,” he said.

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