By Tim Cox
Celina and Montezuma both have been rejected for $300,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) distress grants.
The news came as a disappointment to officials in both towns. But officials in both towns also expressed a desire to apply for the highly competitive grant again next year.
Only $3 million was available statewide for the program to make 10 $300,000 grant awards. The program is aimed at towns or neighborhoods that are considered economically distressed.
Montezuma wanted the money for storm drainage improvements, to fix some streets and to buy some abandoned properties in town. Celina proposed a number of street, water and other improvement projects in the southwest quadrant of the city.
"I'm disappointed, but my plans are to reapply next year," Celina Mayor Sharon LaRue said. "I think we've got some momentum going in that area, and I don't want to lose that." "We're so disappointed," said Susan McKanna of the county community development office who applied on behalf on Montezuma. "Why they were not funded, we don't yet know."
Officials written notification of the grant rejection has not even been received yet by either town. Later this fall, a state official will sit down with representatives from both communities and explain why their applications did not score well enough to qualify for funding and what can possibly be done to improve the grant bids for next year.
Montezuma Village Council member Randy Garman said he believes village officials will undoubtedly try again to get the grant.
"They had a fantastic application," McKanna said of Montezuma's bid.
In the short-term, rejection of the grant applications frees up some money from a separate CDBG program that provides communities with annual allocations to complete various projects. Celina had committed its $50,000 CDBG formula allocation as matching money for the distress grant. LaRue said she was uncertain how Celina would use its formula money.
County commissioners had set aside $25,000 of their available $100,000 allocation to put toward Montezuma's grant application. Commissioners this week agreed to give an additional $12,500 each to previously approved CBDG projects in Rockford and Fort Recovery.