MARIETTA - In the past Marietta's annual Community Development Block Grant has helped fund everything from decorative street lights in the downtown and Harmar districts to the skate park at Indian Acres and facade improvements for downtown businesses.
The grant also helps fund the Washington-Morgan Community Action Bus Lines program as well as the Community Housing Improvement Program that's overseen by Community Action.
But the U.S. Housing and Urban Development entitlement monies-more than $520,000 in 2010- dropped to $336,663 this year, and there's no guarantee the funding won't be reduced again in 2013.
Less CDBG money means fewer projects can be done as requested by citizens during annual public meetings that help city council develop the yearly block grant budget.
Lord Street resident Al Sarver has been a regular at past CDBG public meetings-making the same basic request every year-funding to relieve the chronic flooding of his and other neighborhood basements and yards due to an ancient walled drainage ditch that runs along the properties.
"This has been going on for 10 years now, and that ditch is in worse shape than ever," he said. "I'm just feeling it's probably not worth the time to ask for funding again. My neighbors have given up, but if we don't go, I don't think this ditch will never be fixed."
By The Numbers
Marietta's annual Community Development Block Grant entitlement:
2009: $440,889 plus $117,860 (extra funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act)
Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said he understands some people can be frustrated when the projects they request aren't able to be funded year after year.
"But we don't want anyone to be discouraged from speaking about projects they would like to see during the CDBG meetings," said Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, and chairman of the council finance committee.
The first of two sessions taking public comment on how the 2013 entitlement should be spent was held Monday. The second is slated at 7 p.m. June 25 at the O'Neill Senior Center on Fourth Street.
"We're still encouraging people to come out," Vukovic said. "If they have a CDBG-eligible project in mind, let us know and we'll try to get it funded. These meetings are a good time to let those ideas be known."
He noted for the last couple of years the previous council had dedicated a large portion of the CDBG money to help leverage grant funds to pave city streets and install Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps.
"This council could change that-the question is whether it's reasonable to use CDBG monies to leverage paving grants from the Ohio Public Works Commission," Vukovic said.
During a recent council committee meeting, city engineer Joe Tucker said he planned to make another request for ADA ramp and paving funds from the 2013 CDBG budget.
City development director Andy Coleman said those funds required around $90,000 from the 2012 CDBG entitlement.
"We're expecting another request from the city engineer's office for next year, too," he said. "But we welcome everyone's ideas on projects that can be funded through CDBG. And we hope the turnout for this month's public meetings will be good."
Coleman said the annual public sessions are a key element in retaining the city's CDBG entitlement status as HUD wants to see community involvement in every year's grant budget process.
"In the weeks following the public meetings we take the CDBG-eligible requests and list them in a format that's presented to council who will determine what can be funded as they develop next year's budget that will be submitted to HUD by October," he said.
A couple of city projects that Coleman expects will continue to be funded through CDBG include the Paint Marietta and Emergency Repair programs.
But just last week, due to a 16.5 percent reduction in the expected 2012 entitlement, council members agreed to cut a total of nearly $19,000 in annual funding for police bike and foot patrols for the CDBG-eligible districts of Harmar, downtown, Norwood and Indian Acres.
The patrols will continue, but the funding will be made up out of the city's general fund.
Coleman hopes the 2013 CDBG entitlement will be increased.
"I think a lot is going to depend on how the upcoming congressional and presidential elections come out," he said.