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City has $100,000 in unused 2010 CDBG funds

Published 9:16pm Monday, March 12, 2012

Niles has more than $100,000 in unused federal Community Development Block Grant funding from fiscal year 2010 that must be spent in less than two months or risk losing it.

During a city council committee of the whole meeting Monday night to discuss budgeting the 2012 CDBG funds, the council learned $105,700 of its $408,500 in 2010 CDBG funding hasn’t been used.

In order to comply with federal regulations, the city must spend at least $50,000 of it by May 2 or it could lose it.

City Administrator Ric Huff recommended to the council that about $104,000 of the unspent money be used to make 13 city sidewalk intersections handicap accessible. Currently, sidewalk intersections don’t have curb ramps for people in wheelchairs.

“We’ve all seen people in wheelchairs in the street, and we wonder why. It’s because they have to,” said Community Development Director Juan Ganum. “This project is needed in Niles. Lives will improve because of it.

Facing a time crunch, the city council will vote at an upcoming special meeting on whether to approve Huff’s recommendation for the unused dollars.

During discussion of the 2012 CDBG budget plan, the council received a recommended budget from the Community Development Citizens Committee, a group of residents tasked with helping guide the city council in how to spend the money.

Council member Scott Clark took issue with several of the recommendations, including spending $15,000 on fitness stations on the Riverfront Trail, $10,000 on the Niles Main Street business incubator project and $10,000 on the Niles Community Gardens and worm farm project.

Clark voiced  he would rather see that money spent on expanding the Homeowners Assistance Program, which assists low to moderate income homeowners with home repairs. He also suggested some of the funding go to the Salvation Army to help battle homelessness in the city.

“So you want to take from the citizens and give it to people who are running on the trail and growing worms? Sounds like a good idea,” Clark said sarcastically.

“This whole CDBG thing has become financing for pet projects,” he said.

Mayor Mike McCauslin also questioned whether the city should continue helping fund the community gardens project given that it was originally agreed the city would help launch the project, not sustain it.

The city must submit its 2012 budget plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by May 15 in order to receive the funding this year, which amounts to $262,000. The city will review the budget plan at its next meeting with a public hearing for citizens’ comments on the budget set for April 9.

The city of Niles qualifies for CDBG funding as an “entitlement community,” based on its aging housing stock and high level of poverty.

Don’t let it go to waste
The city of Niles has more than $100,000 in unused federal Community Development Block Grant funding from fiscal year 2010. Here is a look at that 2010 budget:

Project                                              Budgeted    Spent        Unspent funding
Sidewalk Improvement Project    $121,500    121,500    -
Homeowner Assistance Pgm        $80,000    60,000    20,000
Ferry St. Resource Center             $55,000    54,000    1,000
Code enforcement                           $36,000    34,300    1,700
Main St. Incubator project            $20,000    13,000    7,000
Downtown beautification              $13,000    0              13,000
Homeless intervention pgm.        $20,000    0             20,000
Community Gardens                      $8,000    $8,000    -
Ferry St. building improvement    $15,000    0            15,000
Administration                                  $40,000    12,000    28,000

Total                                                   $408,500    302,800    105,700

For more coverage of the city’s discussion of CDBG funding, read here and here.

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  • Dave Fisher

    rThank You Scott!

    Put the monies to use where it can benefit those that really need the help. The next question is how is there $100 grand from 2010 that hasn’t been used? Who is in charge of these funds or should be on top of this?

    Maybe take it and put in a PERMANENT area for an ice skating rink with concrete that could be used for farmers market in the warm months and flooded in the cold ones.

    Multi uses for the community and something that would serve everybody! How about where skating rink is/was now? As long as it’s not just more city maintained parking for Wonderland.

  • S.O.L.

    More pet projects?an ice skating rink? I hope the new sidewalks do not cost 100,000?It seems like a no brainer if you get the money because your city is empoverished then make certain that its put to use to help quell that.In example if you were going to have an ice skating rink then employ some poverty level citizens to run it and build it,the reason for the grant should be kept in mind when using the funds,on that note cutting funds for a community garden would seem rather inappropriate so long as the goods grown went to help those in need,certainly adding to the um wonderful riverwalk via fitness stations seems ridiculous.

  • http://www.proforma.com/label MWHEELER

    consider repair of the dam on pucker…maybe you could reduce fees for water and sewer for residents

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