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Portland gets additional $570K in community development funds; budget set for May 18 hearing

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Portland gets additional $570K in community development funds; budget set for May 18 hearing

PORTLAND – The City Council on May 18 will decide how to allocate $570,000 in federal stimulus funding earmarked for community development projects.

At the May 18 meeting, the council is also scheduled to have a final hearing and vote on a proposed $189 million city budget that would not change the property tax rate, but does include layoffs at the Police and Fire departments.

The city was notified last week it would receive the $570,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, called CDBG-R funds. The city also will get about $30,000 more than it thought in routine CDBG money.

The council, which was informed of the additional funds at a workshop meeting Monday, needs to decide quickly if it wants to allocate the CDBG-R funds to projects that applied for CDBG funding this year and did not get it, or if the city should open a new call for projects.

T.J. Martzial, the city's Housing and Neighborhood Services director, said the deadline for filing a plan with the federal government on how the money will be used is tight – HUD wants plans by June 5. He said that would give interested new applicants until May 20 to turn in proposals, and the council would have to approve what to fund at its June 1 council meeting.

Because of the tight deadline, HUD is allowing cities to waive the standard CDBG citizen participation process. 

Martzial said the council could shift projects approved for regular CDBG funding in the 2009 cycle to receive CDBG-R funding instead, and then solicit new requests that would go through the traditional allocations committee process.

"HUD is encouraging infrastructure projects," he said, that focus on getting people back to work.

He also said that the extra $30,000 in regular CDBG funds must go through the regular approval process, which means through staff, then the allocations committee, then the city manager and finally the City Council.

The May 18 public hearing on the city budget will start at 7 p.m. in council chambers. In addition to possible police and fire layoffs, the budget includes turning off a portion of the city's street lights, increasing parking meter fees by 25 cents per hour and changing management at the Riverside Recycling Center.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net
More stories like this: Portland, budget, CDBG