The Sentinel-Record

City set to prioritize FY ’23 CDBG requests


The city’s annual Community Developmen­t Block Grant allocation is expected to fully fund all nine requests for fiscal year 2023 funding, the city’s CDBG administra­tor told the committee that prioritize­s funding requests.

The Community Developmen­t Advisory Committee will hear the requests at next month’s hearing at City Hall. The priority list it adopts is scheduled to go to the Hot Springs Board of Directors for ratificati­on at the board’s March 21 business meeting.

CDBG Administra­tor Andrew Coker told CDAC the nine requests total $445,136, or about 98% of the city’s $460,152 allocation for fiscal year 2022. Coker said the 2023 allocation won’t be known until later this year. The $1.7 trillion Consolidat­ed Appropriat­ions Act of 2023 Congress passed in December appropriat­ed $3.3 billion in CDBG funding.

Hot Springs has been one of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmen­t’s more than 1,200 entitlemen­t cities that qualify for CDBG funds since 2004. Last year it contracted West Central Arkansas Planning and Developmen­t District to oversee the program after the previous administra­tor chose to no longer offer her services.

Coker is the regional economic resiliency coordinato­r for WCAPDD, the nonprofit economic developmen­t agency that writes and administer­s grants for numerous local government­s in its 10-county region. WCAPDD’s administra­tive fee won’t exceed 15% of the city’s annual CDBG allocation, according to the contract the city board adopted last year.

CDAC received updates on the following CDBG projects at its Feb. 9 meeting:

• Cutwell 4 Kids has spent about $1,100 of the $13,200 it received in fiscal year 2022 funds. The money is funding art classes for seniors at Mountain View Heights Tower. Coker said about 15 to 20 people attend the classes on average.

Ranked at the bottom of last year’s priority list, Cutwell 4 Kids’ applicatio­n initially wasn’t funded in full. In July, the board repurposed $36,927 in project balances from the city’s 2017 to 2020 CDBG allocation­s to fully fund the art classes.

• Coker said insufficie­nt bids were received for the $21,321 renovation project Miss Ida’s House of Love and Care was approved for last year. He said the small size of the project makes it difficult to attract bidders. He told CDAC he’s working to inform more local contractor­s about the work.

Previous years’ fund balances reallocate­d in July fully funded the project at the requested amount.

• Greennecks Landscape of Bryant submitted a $37,000 cost for the Whittingto­n Avenue rain gardens project. The city board approved $44,850 for the fiscal year 2020 project.

Coker said the project comprises 11 rain gardens and will add to the work Goslee Constructi­on Co. is doing on Whittingto­n. The board awarded Goslee a $682,230 contract last year for 16,500 square feet of sidewalk repairs, 1,750 feet of wheelchair ramps, 13,550 feet of new bike lanes, 1,100 feet of multiuse trail, 7,280 square feet of new landscape areas, 3,170 square feet of rain gardens and two new bus shelters.

A Federal Lands Access Program grant is funding 80% of the project, with the city contributi­ng $94,192 in turnback funds from the 0.50% state sales tax and $75,000 from its stormwater fund.

“That’s going to be a lot of work on Whittingto­n Avenue,” Coker told CDAC. “We’re real excited about that.”

• The United Way of the Ouachitas is accepting applicatio­ns for rent and utility assistance. The city board in December selected the local nonprofit to administer $213,042 of federal pandemic relief.

The money is part of the $572,669 in pandemic-related CDBG funds the city received in 2020. It had been earmarked for the resource center for homeless people the city has talked about building. The board reallocate­d the funds to rent and utility assistance last year after it became clear funds for a resource center couldn’t be expended prior to HUD’s spending deadline.

Eighty percent of CDBG-pandemic funds have to be spent by Nov. 2. Coker said repurposin­g the money will allow the city to meet the deadline. Within a few months, Ouachita Behavioral Health and Wellness had doled out all of the $126,825 of rent and utility assistance the board contracted it to administer in 2021.

Assistance payments are made directly to landlords and utilities to prevent eviction or a loss of service. Recipients have to meet HUD income restrictio­ns.

Fifteen percent, or $31,956, of the $213,042 will pay the United Way of the Ouachita’s administra­tive fee, according to the city’s agreement with the nonprofit.

 ?? The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield ?? ■ Insufficie­nt bids came back for the renovation of Miss Ida’s House of Love and Care, 321 Palmetto St. The project received $21,321 in fiscal year 2022 Community Developmen­t Block Grant funds.
The Sentinel-Record/Lance Brownfield ■ Insufficie­nt bids came back for the renovation of Miss Ida’s House of Love and Care, 321 Palmetto St. The project received $21,321 in fiscal year 2022 Community Developmen­t Block Grant funds.

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