In May we mentioned that the city council's Quality of Life Committee was looking at doling out so-called Loving My Community Neighborhood Improvement Grants worth up to $10,000 each, with the money going neighborhood groups, homeowner associations, crime-watch and community garden groups, PTAs, Scout troops and so forth savvy enough to generate clean-up ideas so the city wouldn't have to. The concept's now a reality: City Hall sends word that at 9 a.m. June 20 and July 18 -- both Saturdays, so no excuses -- folks interested in collecting the dough can attend workshops at which the grants will be more fully explained. (And you must attend a workshop to qualify, so, again, no excuses.)
Those with further questions are directed toward the city's Strategic Customer Services Web site, where you'll find a brochure and application packet. Also: frequently asked questions, where you'll find answers to most questions save the obvious one -- which is, how are these grants being funded? Staci Thetford, the city's Northeast Service Area Coordinator, tells Unfair Park today that the first round of funding, which will be awarded in September, comes from the city's general fund, as $100,000 was budgeted for the program in the FY2008-'09 budget. But, she acknowledges, some of that money's going toward "operating expenses, so it'll be closer to $90,000." And Communities Foundation of Texas has pitched in $100,000 for the next, yet-to-be-determined funding cycle -- but, given the current budget deficit of $190 million, the city won't kick in another dime.
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"We're looking for outside funding," Thetford says. "Given the current budget situation, we're not going to be able to use general funds. But we're interested in seeing if other foundations can be a partner."