New projects considered for CDBG funding after some removed for conflict of interest concerns

The city’s Community Development Block Grant program is back on the commission agenda Tuesday night.

Commissioners will consider setting a public hearing for April 17 for the upcoming year’s allocation and grant schedule.

This week, they’ll be voting on an amendment to the current year’s action plan and awarding grants.

City revising CDBG annual action plan, public comment period open through April 6

The amended action plan includes the addition of new projects to address a timeliness notification from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and removes six existing projects that had to be eliminated due to conflict of interest issues.

City sent response letter to HUD on conflict of interest issues, awaiting response

The projects being removed are:

  • Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. (NeighborWorks Great Falls): affordable housing construction
  • Great Falls Development Authority: job creation
  • Habitat for Humanity Opportunities, Inc.: roof
  • Paris Gibson Square: ADA bathroom
  • Rural Dynamics, Inc.: rent reporting

These projects, selected by city planning staff, are proposed for addition:

  • Great Falls Housing Authority: $40,000 for boiler purchase, entry door system and furnaces
  • Great Falls Public Works: $27,495 for sidewalk and curb ramps
  • Great Falls Park and Recreation: $45,000 for a play structure at Kranz Park
  • Great Falls Park and Recreation: $28,000 for a pavilion and amenities at Kranz Park

GFPS asks city for portion of Kranz Park to build parking lot

The annual action plan is part of the five-year Consolidated Plan that is a comprehensive planning strategy required by HUD. The action plan being amended in the third year of the five-year plan.

Mayor issues apology on CDBG process; staff addresses recent HUD letter

The city is at risk of becoming non-compliant with the regulatory timeliness requirements for the CDBG funds that need to be spent by May 2. Expending these funds will keep the city in compliance, protecting future funding and as HUD has requested, it will decrease the line of credit in the revolving loan fund and CDBG unallocated funds, according to the Planning and Community Development Department.

If the city doesn’t meet the timeliness requirement, it would received a warning from HUD and have to return all of the excess funds to the federal government, according to the city planning department.

More CDBG funding suspended as HUD continues review of city’s process

The city’s CDBG line-of-credit can’t exceed 1.5 times its annual grant amount by May 2 of each year. The current year’s program was delayed due to the time length of HUD approval, according to city staff, resulting in less time to expend project funds. As of March 13, the city is at 1.75 times the annual grant amount and the city must spend $172,208 by May 2 to remain in compliance. To meet that, new timeliness projects were identified to replace those that are being removed due to conflicts of interest.