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April 3, 2014

CDBG funds unlikely for new fire station at Crossroads-White Springs still hopeful

Jasper — State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Administrator Spencer Nabors offered some bad news to the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners at their March 18 meeting stating that Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that were applied for by the county did not look as if they made the cut this cycle.

“The county has graciously been given CDBG funds for the last several years,” said Nabors.

He noted the total dollar amount put into the state’s housing budget this year was a little over $4 million.

“As you can see, that’s only going to fund six projects,” said Nabors.

Hamilton County, he said, came in at number 12 on the list of all applications received by the state, noting that the applications were self-scored and hadn’t yet been reviewed by state officials.

“The good side of it, if there is any, you’re looking at $7.7 million that we are starting to lobby for, for them to release out of the economic development category,” Nabors said. “There is only one project that was submitted.”

At the end of the year, the second cycle of the project will be opened up, Nabors explained, and he is hoping that the $7.7 million will be divvied up between the neighborhood and housing categories.

“With that being said, I would stay the course, at least for the next couple months, and not release the $125,000 matching SHIP because they could shift that money and fund some more projects,” Nabors told the board.

Nabors explained that the figures he had were not the final scores of all the submitted applications and that the Department of Economic Opportunity had not gone through them “with a fine toothed comb” yet.

“We’re looking for them to be released at some point mid April or toward the end of April,” Nabors said. “Some of these communities could drop out. We just don’t know at this point.”

Nabors explained that the county has been successful in getting CDBG grants for eight consecutive cycles, the last one being in 2010.

This information has put a wrench into plans for construction of new fire stations at Crossroads and White Springs that were depending on CDBG grant funds. Nabors explained that fire stations are not deemed a priority project in the minds of state officials, like a wastewater or sewer plant might be.

The board asked County Coordinator Louie Goodin to bring to the next meeting the list of items and costs for the Crossroads Fire Department so they can go back to plan one, which is funding the project with county money.

In White Springs, Town Manager Bob Farley said he is still optimistic that the town could receive the CDBG funds to help with construction of a new fire department, since the scoring list is not yet finalized by the state.

“These are the self scoring sheets and not the final ones,” said Farley. “We think that if we don’t get it this go-around, we may get it the next time,” he added.

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