Commissioners approve funding priorities for Great Falls CDBG program

The funding priorities for the Community Development Block Grant funds were approved with little discussion during Tuesday’s City Commission meeting.

Staff recommended:

  • 50 percent, or about $622,000, for public improvements and includes that at a minimum, 20 percent, or about $249,000, of the total annual budget must be specifically allocated to retrofit ADA access projects.;
  • 45 percent, or about $560,000, for residential housing rehabilitation;
  • 5 percent, or about $62,000 for public services, which includes projects focused on homelessness services, senior services, or alcohol and drug treatment. All projects in this category must be new and/or expanding services that benefit low to moderate income individuals.

City Commissioners made no changes to the recommendation and had minimal discussion before voting.

City staff making CDBG funding recommendations during Tuesday’s commission meeting

Commissioner Tracy Houck was absent from the meeting.

Conflict of interest concerns plague this year’s CDBG allocation decisions

Commissioner Owen Robinson said he was glad to see the 20 percent of funding toward ADA projects. That was something he suggested and requested that staff include in the plan.

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

Shyla Patera works with North Central Independent Living Service and regularly attends city meetings to advocate for accessibility.

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

She said she had concerns about the rolling application process for CDBG funds, but feels that new housing construction should include Universal Design, which would make more local housing stock accessible to people with disabilities or mobility challenges.

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

There was no other public comment, despite heavy criticism from the public over conflicts of interest and the city’s CDBG process over the last year.

City staff amended their schedule for hearings and commission approval to add the May 15 public hearing as one of two additional opportunities for public comment, which was requested in part by commissioners and also by some representatives of the non-profit community.

Commissioners will still have to vote on the annual action plan, which the city submits to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with their funding policies and priorities.

That hearing is scheduled for June 5. 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.