Last updated: July 07. 2014 10:52PM - 884 Views
By - lmihm@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — There was another abrupt turn of events as Lima City Council hosted the third and final hearing for the city distribution of Community Development Block Grant funds Monday.

Jose & Sons Recycling was left out completely and the amount approved for The Bradfield Center was reduced from $37,000 to $32,000 after Amy Odum, the city’s director of Community Development, contacted a Department of Housing and Urban Development program administrator on the ability to redistribute the funds.

At the June 23 City Council meeting, which began with the second CDBG hearing, the majority of councilors discussed and were in favor of taking about $68,000 off the CDBG distribution for the inspector position and paying for it out of the general fund in order to meet a request for about $37,000 for the Bradfield Center and another $32,000 for Jose & Sons Recycling.

Bradfield’s $37,852 proposal was going to fund enhanced programs for senior citizens. Included in the request was money for equipment, for education programs, and for tidying up rooms at the facility.

Jose & Sons’ request was primarily for the purchase of a $32,000 piece of equipment needed by the facility. Williams said the nonprofit agency helped eliminate blight by giving people somewhere to turn in unwanted items that would otherwise be left lying around and turning them into money.

However, Richard Hendershot, a program director at HUD, said about $5,000 was disqualified from the Bradfield Center request and the entire amount from Jose & Sons was unqualified.

Reading from Hendershot’s response, Odum addressed the council.

“Accepting additional financial information from Jose & Sons would reopen the entire application process and require a new public hearing, period. We cannot meet the plan submission deadline if this is to occur. Therefore, Jose & Sons remains unqualified for funding as insufficient financial documentation was provided with the application.

Hendershot went on to say a late application submitted by email by the Cheryl Ann Center could not be accepted due to being submitted after the deadline.

Representatives from Jose & Sons and the Cheryl Allen Center both pleaded their case with councilors hoping to persuade them, but councilors were not ready to risk losing money from the CDBG grants.

“I’m not willing to jeopardize the process by reopening the public hearings,” Councilman Tom Tebben said.

Councilors did agree to take the money that was freed up by earmarking $10,000 for work on city parks, $27,500 for a United Way grant writer position, and $1,000 to LACNIP for air conditioners. All three had qualified for funding but were likely going to be left out of the distributions before Hendershot’s analysis.

Several people spoke to the council, asking it to reconsider. Some said the council was not doing its job because money wasn’t getting to low- or moderate-income people. However, councilors said their hands were tied. Councilman Jesse Lowe II said organizations seeking the money needed to be prepared for the process.

“I am going to be blunt,” Lowe said. “There is money out there. We have to start doing business the way it is supposed to be done. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. To say we haven’t done our job is a flat-out lie.”

Councilors said they are hoping the investment into the grant writing position at United Way will provide more help as they were disheartened with the $50,000 in grants that it pulled into Lima last year from the $27,000 investment. Council President John Nixon remarked that the city deserved better, and the council planned to watch development of the new position more closely.

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