Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Joplin City Council to discuss disaster recovery grant during work session

(From the City of Joplin)

Last week, the Joplin City Council met for more than three hours to discuss 24 proposed recovery projects that are eligible under the regulations of the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. The Council has set a Work Session for 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, to continue the deliberations.

The CDBG-DR program is administered by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In October, 2012, HUD awarded $45 million to the City for recovery work following the disaster in May 2011. In March 2013, HUD announced an additional $113 million had been allocated to the City of Joplin to support long-term disaster recovery efforts in areas with the greatest extent of ‘unmet need.’

Of the $158 million awarded to Joplin, approximately $97 million is being programmed to fund projects being considered by Council. The City has utilized and/or allocated approximately $40 million in funding for various projects thus far, including the Joplin Housing Assistance Program, construction of a public park, relocation of Crosslines Community Center, infrastructure projects, and senior housing and housing repair assistance programs. HUD also allows for 5% of the funds to be used for administrative costs and 15% for the planning and execution of community development activities. The City, and Deloitte, Inc., the consultant firm that is assisting the City with the capital planning process and funding regulation adherence, has estimated that these activities would total 11 percent or $18 million of the funds to cover the expenses.

Strict guidelines surrounding the use of these federal monies includes that at least 51% of the funds have to be designated for projects supporting citizens who are in the lower to moderate income levels. For the City of Joplin, that amount is $40,400 for a family of four, or $28,300 for an individual. Other rules about eligible uses of the CDBG-DR funds were outlined in a presentation for the City Council prior to the discussion of specific projects at last week’s work session. This CDBG-DR presentation can be found on the City’s website under the SPOTLIGHT section at www.joplinmo.org. It can also be found by clicking on the CDBG-DR UPDATES button in the middle of the page, and then click “CDBG-DR Intro and Proposed Projects” located at the top of the list.

A list of proposed projects have been compiled by the City staff and the City’s Deloitte consultants utilizing numerous planning documents, such as the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization (JATSO) Plan, Trails Master Plan, Parks and Recreation survey results, and the plan developed CART (Citizens Active in Recovery Team) quickly after the disaster. In addition, City staff and Deloitte members met with various community stakeholders regarding specific projects to gather more information about them. All of this data was then presented to city staff leadership for a review exercise and to score the projects based on various criteria, including the impact to citizens, focus on economic development, project timeframe, and conformance to CDBG DR grant regulations. After these quantitative rankings, an interactive work session with staff was held for Deloitte to discuss the qualitative elements. With this data, City staff was able to identify ten projects that could be completed with the $97 million, and made these recommendations to the City Council at last week’s session. Council took the same homework to rate the projects, and those results will be discussed at Wednesday’s session.

A presentation summarizing the criteria, review process, and the proposed projects can be found on the City’s website by clicking the CDBG-DR UPDATES and going to the first item listed under this heading.

For CDBG-DR process & propose projects...

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