PREBLE COUNTY — Applications for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awards are currently at the county-level, for the Preble County Board of Commissioners to approve before moving to the state-level of the application process.
The commissioners were required to rate which projects they prefer. That rating was submitted to Administrative Assistant Kim Keller, who revealed the results to the commissioners during the meeting on Monday, April 9.
Prior to this, discussion on the projects was held during the board of commissioners’ meeting on Monday, April 2.
There were two types of projects commissioners had to consider: allocation and competitive projects. The competitive projects included: Downtown Revitalization for City of Eaton, Neighborhood Revitalization for West Alexandria, Neighborhood Revitalization for West Manchester, and Neighborhood Revitalization for Camden.
Keller recommended commissioners first choose which Competitive Project to submit, as she stated part of the allocation money would go towards that project (approving that municipality’s allocation project — which all but the City of Eaton submitted) to gain points from the State, making it more likely for the project to be approved.
After choosing which Competitive Project to submit, this would allow the commissioners to know how much money would be remaining for allocation projects. Keller predicted being able to submit three allocation projects, including the Competitive Project incentive project.
“Number one, before we get started, we can apply for one and we have two outstanding right now, so do we want to apply for one?” Commission President Chris Day asked.
Commissioner Rodney Creech responded, “I guess, what are our chances? Shouldn’t we do, instead of whether we like it or not, the one that stands the best chance? Because the one I like may not have a chance. Instead of throwing darts, I rather see the circle and go for it.”
“We have a good record of getting competitive ones. I think they look favorably on our applications, because they haven’t had problems with the ones they’ve received. That being said, we also have the Downtown Revitalization for Lewisburg that is still open. It hasn’t been monitored yet, so they have no idea how we did on that project. I would think they would be more leery on throwing another one at us until they know how we did,” Keller said.
“The Neighborhood Revitalization projects are ones we do very often.”
“We know right away that the Downtown Revitalization project [for Eaton] does not have an allocation project, so they are already going to be dinged for not having that. We get extra points for that,” Commissioner Denise Robertson said.
“Their stance is, if you’re serious about getting a competitive project, then you need to be putting allocation dollars towards it,” Keller said.
“I like the idea and I love that Lewisburg is doing it. I love that Eaton wants to do it, but I think that Eaton would be better served to wait until Lewisburg is done with theirs, to see what went well and what didn’t,” Robertson said.
Keller added, “And what we need to be fine-tuning. [Waiting] also gives them more of a chance to get it known out there that they’re looking to do this.”
The commissioners scored the projects and submitted their scoring sheets to Keller, to discuss the results at a future meeting.
During the commission meeting on Monday, April 9, there was a public hearing for the Critical Infrastructure CDBG projects, which is separate from the other CDBG funds. At the end of that hearing, Susan Laux with Mote & Associates, Inc. spoke regarding the Eaton Downtown Revitalization project, which she is a representative for.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with the Critical Infrastructure, but it is a CDBG public hearing and I just wanted to respond to something that was in The Register-Herald last week. I noticed that it said something about there being extra bonus points and I wanted to bring it to everybody’s attention that those bonus points don’t exist anymore,” she said.
“Looking at the leverage information, it used to be that way and it is not any longer. When I met with the City of Eaton, we talked about the allocation program, but because they didn’t really have any need in the downtown as far as infrastructure is concerned, they decided to forgo an allocation application.
“They decided to leave that money for other villages. That is why they didn’t [submit an application], it wasn’t because they are not ready. We talked about it, discussed it, and decided not to. Also in the paper, it talked about when there is a competitive program they like to look at how many people are affected, population income, and how much leverage is being put forward.
“Looking at that and the other information submitted, Eaton has a population of 8,407. The closest community to that is Camden with 2,046. Looking at population income, the median household income is $36,487. The closes to that is West Manchester with $41,538 and Camden is a close second with $41,646. Lastly, [the article] talked about leverage and if you look at that, the City of Eaton, with just leverage, is a ratio of 1 to 1.09. The closest to that is West Alexandria with 1 to 0.3.
“If we look at collaboration, Eaton is 1 to 3.24 and the closest one is likely no more than 1 to 1. I wanted to bring that information to you and looking at those things that are scored and how the applications compare. The leverage points for the Downtown Revitalization Application actually decreased from the time Lewisburg did theirs to now. It used to be 20 percent and now it is only 10 percent of the total.”
However, the Preble County Commissioners had already scored the projects. Later during the meeting, they revealed those scores.
For the Competitive Project, West Alexandria got the highest points from the commissioners. That will be the project they submit to the state. Camden’s project came in second, with West Manchester in third, and the City of Eaton’s project had the lowest ratings.
As for the Allocation Funds, the following villages were rated the highest: West Alexandria, Eldorado, and Gratis. According to Keller, the top three projects add up to more than the projected amount the county will get for Allocation Projects. She did send an email, asking for the exact number the county will be receiving, as the projected cost may not be correct and the county may be receiving more.
If they are not, then the county will have to reduce the size of one or more of the projects. They will be reaching out to the villages, asking if they would be willing to downsize.
Keller was hoping to have more information on the allocation funds as of Monday, April 16.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH