Friday, June 12, 2015
Second Joplin City Council work session set to discuss disaster recovery funds
After discussions lasting more than three hours about proposed recovery projects, the Joplin City Council decided at last night’s work session to continue the deliberations at a work session tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 18. With 39 projects on the list, City staff and Deloitte, Inc., the consultant firm for the City to assist with the capital planning process and funding regulation adherence, noted that just 24 of them are eligible under the regulations of the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program, authorized and awarded by U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2012.
The City was originally awarded $45 million in October 2012 by HUD 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.’
With the federal grants come strict guidelines surrounding the use of the monies, including that at least 51% of the funds have to be designated for projects supporting citizens who are in the lower to middle income level. 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. This CDBG-DR presentation can be found on the City’s website at www.joplinmo.org. Users should click 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.
Of the $158 million awarded to Joplin, approximately $97 million is still available to fund projects being considered by Council. The City has utilized and/or allocated approximately $40 million funds for various projects thus far, including the Joplin Housing Assistance Program, construction of a public park, relocation of Crosslines Community Center, and senior housing and housing repair assistance programs.
A list of proposed projects have been compiled by the City staff and Deloitte members 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, and project timeframe. 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 night’s session.
“This has been a very thorough and fair process in reviewing the proposed projects,” said City Manager Sam Anselm. “Staff and our consultants have worked very hard to research the projects, gather the information and provide it in an unbiased manner for consideration by the city council. We’ve given Council our work product, and they will now complete the same exercise. My intent was to be transparent and thorough in this process, and I fell we’ve accomplished those goals.”
As Council works to score the projects, the results will be utilized in the upcoming work session.
“There are 39 good projects on this list,” said Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert. “However, due to HUD’s requirements of spending the CDBG-DR funds, only 24 of these are eligible for consideration. And unfortunately they total more than $350 million worth of work, and our remaining funds cannot support all of these. The City Council will be reviewing these closer and scoring them in the same quantitative process that staff completed. With these scores, it will provide a good analysis for the Council to use to make our final decisions.”
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.
Info: CDBG-DR criteria & proposed projects...