Marysville unable to acquire federal development grants for past 3 years
After three years of ineligibility for Community Development Block Grant funding, Marysville has taken a first step to getting back on board.
The funding, allocated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and dispensed by the state, represents up to $800,000 a year.
Marysville's failure to update a portion of its General Plan has made the city ineligible since the 2008-09 budget year.
"It's not chump change," said City Manager Walter Munchheimer of the lost grant opportunities. "It's vital for a small community that struggles to get money for infrastructure and for other community improvements."
Last week, the City Council approved a $40,000 consultant's contract to update the housing element of Marysville's General Plan, which is the section at issue.
"We're at the right time in the cycle," said City Services Director Dave Lamon.
City officials hope to have the documents updated and certified in time to meet Block Grant deadlines later this year.
Mayor Ricky Samayoa said the approval has been a long time coming.
"The money was allocated two budgets ago for a consultant. It's been frustrating," he said. "It's been on the table this whole time."
The housing element, the single portion of municipal General Plans subject to ongoing oversight by the state, was last updated and certified in time to qualify for Block Grant funds in 2003-08.
Use of the money is subject to rigorous state criteria aimed at improving availability and conditions of housing in areas with low-income residents.
Councilman Michael Selvidge said Marysville's failure to update the housing element is a product of staffing cuts at City Hall in the last several years.
"There's just so much to be done and so little manpower," he said. "The can was just kicked further down the road."
According to Lamon, the strings attached to Block Grant funding are considerable.
First, paying a consultant to update the General Plan documents is costly.
"That's out of your pocket," he said.
The research and paperwork involved in applying for grant funds, and documenting their use, Lamon said, is a labor-intensive enterprise.
And in past years, when the city went through the necessary hoops, he said, "It was easier to get the money than to spend it."
"A homeowner has to want to do this (Block Grant project)," Lamon said. "And this is a complex program. The state is difficult."
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at email@example.com or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.