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Grant funds on the way

September 14, 2010
By BRIAN FERRY bferry@timesobserver.com
The Community Development Block Grant money isn’t in yet, but Warren County officials are looking for ways to spend it. The county gets an annual allocation from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In the 1990s, the county got about $280,000 each year. In the early 2000s, the number bumped up to about $300,000 a year. Since 2006, the allocation has been within $3,000 of $270,000 each year. “That’s what we can expect” for next year, Warren County Community Development Grants Administrator Lorri Dunlap said. The amount varies from year to year, but the requirements are consistent. “There’s a multitude of projects that can be funded with these dollars but they must meet one of three national objectives,” Dunlap said. The objectives are: ¯ “to serve a primarily low- to moderate-income population,” ¯ “removal of slum and blight,” and ¯ to deal with imminent threats to public safety. Most of the money must be used on projects that fit in the first category. Only up to 30 percent may be used for the others combined. That breakdown is rarely a concern. Dunlap said the third option has only been used twice in the county as far as she can remember. That was to replace a Tidioute bridge that was washed out by flooding and to replace a Youngsville public sewer pump that burned out. The second option is more common since the creation of a county redevelopment authority. The authority uses some funds to deal with blighted properties. Still, $80,000 would be a very large allocation to the authority, she said. Most CDBG dollars go to water and sewer system projects and street and bridge reconstruction. Sidewalks, water wells, and such things as furnishings and equipment for senior centers can also be funded. In August, Dunlap sent out letters to the governing bodies of the county’s municipalities and to non-profit organizations requesting lists of projects that may be eligible for CDBG dollars. The due date for proposals is Oct. 1. Once the proposals are in, Dunlap will check them to make sure they meet the federal requirements and, after the federal budget numbers are in, will submit proposals to the county commissioners for consideration. “They divide up the money for projects that do the most good for the most people,” she said. As much as 18 percent of the allocation may be used to pay for the administration of the grants — paying staff wages; advertising; and mailing information to residents who may be affected by projects. Advertising for one project can cost about $1,200, Dunlap said. “We don’t usually take the whole 18 percent,” she said. She said 13 percent — about $35,000 — is more typical.
 
 

 

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