Community Development Block Grant funds decrease

Wauwatosa organizations deal with $200,000 drop

July 13, 2011

The federal government is sending fewer Community Development Block Grant dollars Wauwatosa's way this year.

City planner Jennifer Ferguson used the $1.3 million funding level for 2010 when she worked with a block grant committee last fall to allocate grant dollars for 2011. She has now learned that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has cut Wauwatosa's fund by 16.5 percent or more than $200,000.

Knowing funding levels could change, the block grant committee had directed Ferguson to apply any reductions equitably among programs and services. She did that with a few exceptions, she told the city's Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday.

Engineer declines funds

Namely, City Engineer Bill Wehrley declined additional dollars for sanitary sewer improvements in areas serving low- to-moderate income people. Public Works has sufficient funding to cover the projects that can be accomplished this year and a decision still needs to be made on how to handle inspections and maintenance to sewer laterals on private property before setting aside money.

Funding can also be reduced to another category of public infrastructure, Ferguson said.

"The water main project has already been completed for 2011 and it came in under budget," she said.

A natural solution would be to take the $47,875 remaining from the water main project and divvy it up so public service groups such as Hart Park Senior Center and Tosa Community Food Bank could get a larger piece. Some of those groups were approved for less grant dollars than they requested, so the across the board cut takes them even lower. However, HUD caps the percentage of total funds that can go to certain categories of recipients.

Most of the approved projects have not used any of their funding so far this year, and they have been alerted their disbursement will come in lower so they can plan accordingly, Ferguson said.

But money has been transferred to the public facilities category. Allocations to the Lutheran Home, which wants to renovate housing units for patients with dementia; as well as Badger Association of the Blind, which wants to buy a new electronic sign for its building; are now able to receive the full amount of grant money they requested.

The remainder was split between Wauwatosa Economic Development Corp. to award as grants to business and property owners for renovations and equipment purchases that should lead to job creation; and Greek Manor to fix up outdated units in its subsidized rental facility for low-income seniors and the physically disabled.

Stretching projects out

It's possible that diminished funding could lead recipients to break-up projects over more than one year so they could request additional funding for 2012.

A master plan for Mayfair Road will likely need to cover a long stretch with numerous stakeholders making it complex. It could be broken down into more than one study area, city Economic Development Director Paulette Enders said. Decisions made on Mayfair Road could spill over to impact the Burleigh Triangle, portions of North Avenue and Blue Mound Road. The city's largest taxpayer, Mayfair Mall, also stands in the area.

Master plans for East Tosa and the Village were created in 2009 and 2010 using block grant dollars.

ProjectRequested amount for 2011 (in fall 2010)Revised amount based on 2011 funds allocated
Administration and planning$50,000$41,750
Metro Fair Housing Council$33,000$27,555
Mayfair Road corridor plan$75,000$62,625
Hart Park Senior Center$124,500$104,000
ARC Milwaukee$25,000$17,750
Elena's House$15,000$12,230
Tosa Interfaith$20,000$16,300
Tosa Food Pantry$4,000$3,275
PEP Program$6,500$4,075
Tosa Cares$5,000$4,075
Sanitary Sewer improvements in low-to-median income areas$500,000$117,850
Water main improvements$225,000$140,000
Wauwatosa Economic Development Corp.$250,000$140,000
Lutheran Home$50,000$50,000
Greek Orthodox Manor$265,000$239,875
Badger Association for the Blind$16,000$16,000


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