By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
What started as a concern raised during Monday's Centerville City Council meeting led to a protracted discussion about Chariton Valley Planning & Development's ability to submit an effective grant application to access a Community Development Block Grant for housing rehabilitation in Centerville.
Kim Crego, commissioner of municipal services and city clerk, said the council should either terminate the $7,000 contract with CVP&D or put off the grant application for one more year. Crego made those comments based on CVP&D grant paperwork she had seen and the possibility the grant would not be ready to be submitted before the Dec. 12 deadline.
Terminating the CDBG application now would cost Centerville almost $2,000 because of money already paid to CVP&D for services rendered so far.
"I don't feel strongly that we're getting good value for our dollar," Crego said, addressing the $7,000 contract with CVP&D. "I don't feel that the application is going to be as strong as it needs to be to get us to rise to the top. It's very competitive in getting this money."
Crego said the city will waste $7,000 if CVP&D turns in a poor grant application this year with no chance of state approval.
Councilman Rob Lind picked up on Crego's comments and called the CVP&D grant draft the city received three weeks ago "half-baked" and said it was something the council was scheduled to vote on that night. Lind said some of the information submitted to the city by CVP&D was from a failed CDBG application in 2008.
Nichole Moore, with CVP&D, said what city officials have seen so far are just rough working drafts.
"You're not looking at the full document and the full completed application that's going to be submitted," Moore said.
When asked by Lind if CVP&D would have documents ready to be submitted on time, Moore replied, "In my thinking, yes."
The CVP&D grant application to the state is meant to help at least 10 low-to-moderate income Centerville homeowner with up to $37,499 each. The homeowner can spend $24,999 for rehabilitation with the rest of the money going toward technical services, lead abatement, lead carrying and relocation assistance.
If each homeowner stays in their home for five years the grant money is forgiven.
The CDBG application includes $17,500 for CVP&D administration services.
The grant being submitted by CVP&D on behalf of Centerville to the Iowa Economic Development Authority CDBG is in the amount of $392,490.
Moore said CDBG awards typically are made in March.
The council voted 4-1 to allow CVP&D to continue the CDBG application process. Lind voted no.
Following that vote, the council voted 4-1 to provide $10,000 as a local match commitment of funds towards the CDBG. Councilman Darrin Hamilton voted no and called $10,000 too much for a local match.
In 2008, Centerville was turned down for a CDBG. That year the city pledged $3,500 for a local match.
Moore said the city would keep the local match if it isn't selected to receive a CDBG award. Only if the city is selected will it have to pay the local funding match amount.
"It's not an obligation that you have to submit a funding amount," Moore said. "However, because it's a competitive application process any dollar amount that the city shows a financial contribution to the program is helping you out."
George Johnson, building and code compliance officer, said 42 homeowners applied to be a part of the grant program and 26 within the city limits met the guidelines. Fifteen of those are on the north side of town and of those 15 it would be narrowed down to 10.
Moore said 10 are chosen in order to be competitive in the state. Cities submitting more than 10 in the past were not awarded a CDBG.