Coun­cil vote en­sures non­profit groups keep re­ceiv­ing block grants

Money pro­vided for ‘hous­ing re­hab’

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - HICHAM RAACHE

SPRINGDALE — A fed­eral pro­gram ben­e­fit­ing res­i­dents in a va­ri­ety of ways has been re­newed.

The City Coun­cil voted Tues­day to ap­prove the ac­tion plan for use of Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant Fund.

The block grant pro­vides money to sev­eral non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“We do this ev­ery year,” said Melissa Reeves, pub­lic re­la­tions di­rec­tor for the city. “It does a lot of things. It’s a pro­gram that does hous­ing re­hab. It re­moves lead-based paint.”

The city has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram

since 1975.

“Res­i­dents from all around the city have ben­e­fited,” Reeves said.

The pro­gram even helps res­i­dents who rely on pub­lic trans­porta­tion, such as get­ting a taxi voucher to make it to a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment, Reeves said.

Grants to­tal­ing $840,882 will be pro­vided through the pro­gram. Gen­eral Pro­gram Ad­min­is­tra­tion will re­ceive $35,000. Hous­ing will re­ceive $702,882, $609,882 of which will go to­ward hous­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Pub­lic Ser­vices will re­ceive $103,000. House of Hope Res­cue Mis­sion and 7 Hills Home­less Shel­ter are two of the area’s pub­lic ser­vices re­ceiv­ing grants, with the for­mer re­ceiv­ing $12,500 and the later re­ceiv­ing $15,000, ac­cord­ing to the City Coun­cil agenda packet.

The city re­ceived $830,595 in block grants last year, Reeves said.

The City Coun­cil ap­proved 6-2 to sup­port fed­eral and state leg­is­la­tion to en­sure the proper as­sess­ment and col­lec­tion of sales tax from all In­ter­net/on­line sales. The State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in April voted against a bill to col­lect on­line sales tax. The bill would have re­quired com­pa­nies with­out a phys­i­cal pres­ence in the state and that make ei­ther more than $100,000 in sales an­nu­ally or at least 200 trans­ac­tions within

the state, to col­lect and re­mit sales tax.

Mayor Doug Sprouse and Al­der­man Colby Fulfer both said the is­sue would likely go be­fore the Supreme Court. Ama­zon started col­lect­ing sales tax in Arkansas in March.

Sprouse said sales tax not be­ing placed on on­line sales is un­fair to brick and mor­tar stores, putting them at a 10 per­cent dis­ad­van­tage to the on­line mar­ket.

Fulfer said peo­ple have to pay enough taxes al­ready.

“I haven’t spoke to many peo­ple who want to see this done; it’s a very un­pop­u­lar thing,” Fulfer said. “In try­ing to rep­re­sent the peo­ple of the city, it would be go­ing against the ma­jor­ity sen­ti­ment.”

Fulfer said the coun­cil’s vote on the is­sue wouldn’t im­pact state and fed­eral law. Sprouse said the vote still has a pur­pose.

“My hope is that we will send a mes­sage to our Leg­is­la­ture. I re­spect Colby’s ar­gu­ment and the way he brought it for­ward. We just dis­agree on the process,” Sprouse said.

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