By Timothy Cox
Mercer County Commissioners handed out about $100,000 in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) on Tuesday to be used for local infrastructure projects.
Commissioners had nearly $400,000 in funding requests but only about $100,000 to give away, making for tough decisions.
Commissioners approved $25,000 for the village of Montezuma to use as a match for a $300,000 CDBG distress grant the community is seeking. Union Township was awarded $25,000 to put toward a new firehouse, and St. Henry also received $25,000 to upgrade a failing concrete sewer line. Rockford received $12,500 for a water line improvement, and Fort Recovery received $12,500 for a storm sewer separation project.
St. Henry, Rockford and Fort Recovery received only part of their original requests due to lack of funding. St. Henry had sought $50,000, Rockford wanted $35,000 and Fort Recovery wanted $25,000. Those towns now will have to come up with more local money to take advantage of the grant program.
Commissioners had about $115,000 in federal money available for the annual program, but $15,000 was set aside for administration and to administer a mandated fair housing program. Montezuma's CDBG award is contingent on the town receiving the distress grant, a fiercely competitive program with only 10 available grants and possibly four times that many applicants. If the town is not approved for the program, the CDBG allocation then would available to award to another village or township.
Commissioners said they already have a tentative plan in place in case the Montezuma distress grant is rejected. They said they would split the extra $25,000 between Rockford and Fort Recovery to bring those projects closer to the funding level originally sought.
Commissioners continued their efforts to try to spread available CDBG money evenly throughout the county.
St. Henry's grant was the first the community has received in at least five years. Union Township, Fort Recovery and Rockford had not received any CDBG in three years or more. Montezuma received a small $7,000 stipend last year, which also was directed at securing the distress grant. The money was used for planning and administration for the grant program.
Passed over for funding this year were Gibson Township, which wanted money for a road widening project, and Union, Center and Dublin townships, which were seeking money for bridge replacements.