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Just How in the Heck Does the City Decide How to Spend Federal CDBG Money Anyway?

Tomorrow, the city council will take a long, hard look at how federal community development block grants are spent -- or, in this case, not. According to the briefing document, there are 109  already approved projects and programs still sitting on $7 million in federal money that was supposed to have been spent within a specific time period -- usually a year or two, depending upon the need to secure additional financing, design and construction and so forth. And for many of those project, a year or two down the line was years ago. Course, extensions can be given, if necessary.

The City Manager's Office and the Community Development Commission agree that between 39 and 41 of those 109 programs should get to keep their money -- which adds up to $4.5 million in CDBG money. Mary Suhm's office and the budget office will recommend to the council that the rest should have their money reprogrammed elsewhere -- a time-consuming process, so we were just told, subject to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development oversight. Among those that will get to keep their money are programs that date back a long while -- including, for instance, a 7-year-old Business Development Program within the Office of Economic Development funded with more than $617,000 in HUD dough during 2003 through '05 that's still gone unspent.

Then there's something called the Fair Park Commercial Corridor Demo Program, which has been around since 2000 and has $175,000 in unspent federal money. Interestingly, in the 2005 CDBG review, the city's budget office recommended reprogramming that money elsewhere; a year later, it was on the extension list, where it remains. This go-round, the City Manager and the CDC are recommending an extension. Says now there's "a project pending." Which is ...? No idea. Not yet, anyhow.

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