Commissioners approve CDBG grant policies, citizen participation plan

The revamped Community Development Block Grant process is underway for the city.

During Tuesday’s CDBG needs hearing, speakers asked commissioners to consider ADA accessibility, economic development, housing and early childhood education/childcare for this year’s funding allocation.

Staff will discuss their proposed funding priorities at the May 1 meeting, but they are planning to recommend that 20 percent of the funds go toward ADA accessibility projects. That is based on community input and a specific request by Commissioner Owen Robinson.

Commissioners also considered the city’s grant policies and citizen participation plan during Tuesday’s meeting.

Changes to Great Falls CDBG process, public needs hearing on commission agenda

After a year of public criticism on the city’s CDBG process prompting a review by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, only one person spoke on the issues during Tuesday’s meeting and the city voted 4-0 to approve the items. Commissioner Tracy Houck was absent Tuesday.

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

The efforts made this year in public outreach is not a one-off, said Craig Raymond, city planning director. He said city staff will continue their efforts to gather public input in the future.

Staff making recommendations for revised Great Falls CDBG process; grant funding


Raymond and Maria Porter, the city’s CDBG administrator, told commissioners that in the interest of public engagement, they added two additional commission meetings into the process. That will give commissioners more time to make their decision on the city’s CDBG funding priorities and also allow more time for public comment. But, the added meetings leave little time for any substantive changes to the proposal and still meet the HUD submittal deadlines.

Commission approves CDBG funds for Great Falls park, sidewalks, housing authority

Raymond said that the timeline is tight this year, but if commissioners liked the schedule, they’ll be able to start earlier next year.

Initially, commissioners were scheduled to vote on funding goals on May 1. Now, staff will make their recommendations during that meeting and then vote on the goals on May 15. Another meeting is scheduled for June 5 for commissioners to vote on the annual action plan that is submitted to HUD. In the past, commissioners didn’t vote on that plan since it’s an administrative document that goes along with the CDBG funding goals, according to staff.

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

Any changes commissioners want to make would require a special meeting. Commissioners said they were prepared to attend a special meeting if necessary.

Since the new process eliminates the Community Development Council, which had previously reviewed and scored grant applications, there will be a new appeals process.

City staff proposing major changes to CDBG process; HUD looking at additional potential conflicts

Now the applications will be reviewed and scored by city staff. Raymond has removed himself from the review process and any applicants that don’t agree with a score or funding allocation can first file an administrative appeal to Raymond within 60 days of the decision. If Raymond upholds staff’s decision, the applicant can appeal to the city’s existing Board of Adjustment/Appeals, which is authorized by city code to hear and decide appeals on housing regulations.