State changes distribution schedule for development block grants

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

SIDNEY — The city of Sidney will get twice as much Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding this year as it usually gets and Shelby County will get none at all.

The situation will be reversed in 2018.

That’s because the Ohio Development Service Agency (ODSA) has changed its distribution schedule of the funds which come from the federal Housing and Urban Development program. In 2017, Sidney will receive $156,000. In 2018, Shelby County should receive about $150,000.

“The CDBG funding is based on a formula and communities had been receiving grants each year. Now communities will receive this grant every other year and the grant amount will be approximately twice the annual grant amount. It is our hope that providing larger grants over two years will allow the communities more time to complete more impactful projects,” said Penny Martin, ODSA public information officer.

Communities have to complete state-approved CDBG projects within a time frame. Larger projects couldn’t always meet that requirement, so they weren’t eligible to use CDBG funds. The new schedule will change that.

“We will have 26 to 28 months to complete projects,” said Barbara Dulworth, community service director for the city of Sidney. “It’s an improvement in that we’re getting a bigger pot, so if we had a big project, we could put it all toward that.”

What doesn’t change is that projects must benefit l0w- to moderate-income residents of the communities that get the grants.

“We hold a two-year public meeting to see what’s on everybody’s wish list,” said Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst.

“Projects that we propose are reviewed by the state,” Dulworth said. “The state releases funds and we draw down.”

“Communities can use the grant funds for more than one project. And, depending on the amount of the grant there is a cap to the number of projects that can be funded,” added Martin.

She also noted that when ODSA made the distribution change, it also made a change to its Critical Infrastructure (CI) program. That one provides funds when “a community has a project that needs immediate attention,” Martin said.

In the past, there were specific dates by which applications for CI grants had to be filed. Now, the grants are “open cycle”: communities can apply for them year-round.

“The funding for this program is separate from the allocation funding. If a community applies for and is awarded a Critical Infrastructure grant, it does not impact the community’s allocation funding. This is an additional funding opportunity for the community,” Martin said.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.