First comes the grant. Then comes the match. That’s the rub with one of the longest-running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that funds local community development activities with the stated goal of providing affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development.
Ladysmith and Tony were awarded Community Development Block Grants last week to fix aging downtown streets and a municipal sewer system, respectively. The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons. CDBG is an important tool for government leaders, allowing them to leverage grant dollars with matching local monies to accomplish much needed ambitious projects that might otherwise pass by the wayside.
CDBG dollars are flexible and responsive to local needs, but they require some form of local match. Many downtown property owners in Ladysmith learned that the hard way last year when the city imposed special assessments tied to reconstruction of Worden and Fritz avenues. Those special assessments — a surtax levied on property owners to pay for specific local infrastructure projects such as the construction or maintenance of roads or sewer lines — will help finance loans a municipality takes out at the time a project begins. The tax is charged only to the owners of property in the neighborhood that will benefit from the project.
Now that Ladysmith and Tony government leaders have been informed they have been awarded CDBG funds, planning intensifies on projects and financing. Information on any special assessments or numbers of properties affected won’t be itemized until all funding sources are identified and the work bid out.
Last year, downtown Ladysmith property owners were upset by special assessments that in many cases were more than they paid for their properties. Special assessments will be announced sometime next year for property owners along parts of six downtown streets. Let this be their advance warning.
Ladysmith News editorials are written by news staff.