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Federal Way Council reviews 'action plan' for federal entitlement funds

City of Federal Way - Contributed
City of Federal Way
— image credit: Contributed

The Federal Way City Council unanimously approved the 2014 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) action plan during the council’s March 4 meeting.

Community services manager Jay Bennett touched on the need for the plan, and also presented recommended uses for the approximately $610,000 the city anticipates receiving from the federal government this year.

“The city’s annual action plan is the city’s formal application to (the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD) for its entitlement grant,” Bennett said. “It must address … critical needs.”

Those critical needs include economic development, neighborhood revitalization efforts, housing, public facilities and/or public services for low-to-moderate income people.

Bennett noted that the basic fund is in strong shape, thanks to approximately $562,545 in carryover from the city’s 2012 CDBG allocation. Combined with the estimated $610,000 the city will receive this year, and $3,000 in “program income,” the city will have approximately $1.2 million available to distribute throughout the community.

Along with this, the city also provided a contingency for reception of $3 million in what’s called a Section 108 loan. That loan essentially allows the city to borrow in advance on its CDBG entitlement for five years, and also gives the city up to 20 years to repay the money. Bennett also noted there’s the possibility of $100,000 for what’s known as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

On the expenditures side, Bennett related how the city is allowed to allocate up to 20 percent for planning and administration costs, and up to 15 percent for public services expenditures. For planning and administration costs, the action plan has budgeted $80,000 for staff costs, $15,000 for professional services for the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area Plan, $2,500 for fair housing education, and $24,500 for professional services regarding a program known as the New Markets Tax Credit program.

The public services funding will see $25,437 going towards the Federal Way Community Center’s inclusion program, $16,007 for Health Point health services, $16,007 for the Multi Service Center’s (MSC) “Yes” program, $23,007 for the MSC’s Emergency Assistance program, and $16,007 will go towards the Institute for Family Development.

“I call your attention to these agencies that were awarded (funds) in the 2012 application period, and (as part of that) were awarded allocations for 2013 and 2014,” Bennett said. “We’ve actually give a little bit more this year.”

Another part of CDBG expenditures is known as Community Economic Revitalization Funding (CERF). These funds go towards helping businesses and other entities throughout the community.

For 2014, $80,000 is budgeted for small-business loans and the same amount is also allocated for micro enterprise loans. $105,000 was budgeted for “commercial exterior improvement(s),” while $250,000 was allocated for an emergency housing repair program.

About $102,300 will be directed to Highline Community College and its small business development program, while $30,000 will be awarded to Parkview Services to acquire a house.

Approximately $214,000 will fund a small business retention program, while $15,000 will go to remodeling costs for a project house in the Westway Neighborhood. Finally, $50,000 has been set aside to employ a part-time code enforcement officer. Bennet says many of these funds have already had, and will continue to have, a positive impact for Federal Way residents.

“(The emergency housing repair) program is just unbelievable and it really helps homeowners,” he said. “The small business retention program is new, and would be assistance to small businesses. This is for job retention, for businesses who may be in danger of losing employees. (The program is) to make sure we’re not only creating jobs, but retaining good Federal Way jobs.”

The part-time code enforcement officer is also a new addition to the plan, Bennett said, and supports Mayor Jim Ferrell’s effort to reconnect City Hall with the community.

“The mayor’s initiative of wanting to get in neighborhoods, to be proactive and work with people, the Community Development Block Grant (program) can help with that … While (the code enforcement officer) is working in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods, that is an eligible expense for Community Development Block Grants.”

Councilmember Bob Celski asked Bennett about the small business retention program, wondering if there’s already a program in place for how those funds should be used, or if the city is following someone else’s lead.

“It looks like we’ve allocated $214,000, which is a pretty substantial amount from the total allocation,” Celski noted.

Bennet said that is an issue that he and his staff are currently working on.

“Next up on my plate is putting some meat around the bones of that program. I’ve already had some conversations with Seattle and Tacoma, and with another program across the country,” Bennet replied.

“This is a great use of those funds. Retaining and building small businesses, I’m fully supportive of that,” Celski added.

To learn more about CDBG funding, visit www.cityoffederalway.com/index.aspx?nid=555

 

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