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Travis tries for additional stimulus money

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday took up one of the more frequent topics of county government this year—chasing down stimulus dollars that can benefit the county.

 

Travis County is eligible for $226,300 in what is called CDBG-R money. But the County is having trouble finding shovel-ready projects, and the CDBG program is already out of compliance – for not meeting deadlines in the past.

 

Sherri Fleming, Executive Manager for the county’s Health and Human Services & Veterans Service Department, said that although the county is eligible for the money, “I can’t emphasize enough that we are facing a very, very much expedited time line in terms of any potential uses that we have for this funding.”

 

Christy Moffett, the CDBG Senior Planner, said the county had not received guidelines from HUD until May 6, and that the effective deadline to apply for the funds is June 5 and must include a seven-day public comment period.

 

The county is still looking for projects that would meet the criteria. Two projects the county departments are looking at including are home rehabilitation and home buyer assistance. Judge Sam Biscoe also recommended that the department look into providing senior citizens in the unincorporated part of the county with energy-efficient AC units and working to provide jobs for juveniles the county has been training.

 

The funds are specifically targeted and come with strings attached. In a memo to the court, Fleming said that “unprecedented measures of accountability and transparency are required, including increased frequency and viability of reporting.” Ten percent of the funds can be used toward administrative costs, though this is not required. The county would also need to demonstrate the number of jobs created or retained on a temporary or permanent basis. There is also a preference for stand-alone projects that are simple to fund. The money is also prioritized for contracts that can be awarded by bid within 120 days of the funds availability and spent before September 30, 2012.

 

The commissioners voted unanimously to have a public hearing on proposed programs in Commissioners Court on May 26, and included in the motion an intent to use the money available and explore the best options at the county’s disposal.

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