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Local Government County's Five-Year Consolidated Plan Shakes Out at Work Session


BRADENTON -- Cheri Coryea, Director Manatee County Neighborhood Services Department, and Suzie Dobbs, the department's Community Development Manager, introduced consultants, Jason Smith and Amanda Warner, both Professional Planners from WadeTrim.


The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the process and priorities for the County's Five Year Consolidated Plan and to gather input from the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). In order to receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, the county is required to adopt a new Consolidated Plan every five years. Manatee County became an entitlement community in 2002. This is the third Consolidated Plan cycle since.


The main functions of the Consolidated Plan are; create a planning document that serves as an application for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds available through their CDBG and Home Investment Partnership Programs. The objective: to identify Community Development goals and a plan that provides a basic assessment.


Their presentation clearly identified what projects do and do not qualify to be recipients of funds from the programs. Adopted activities must benefit low and moderate income persons, aid in the prevention and elimination of slums or blight, and/or meet urgent community development needs.


Projects like public facilities improvements, code enforcement, public service projects and housing rehabilitation are eligible to receive funds. Projects that are not include political activities, purchase of equipment, operating and maintenance expenses, or any general government expenses.


Commissioners seemed pleased with the Smith and Warner presentation, thanked them both, then finished with a few questions and some comments.


Commission Chair, John Chappie said, "This is perfect timing" he spoke about the - No Place Like Home - seminar he attended last Saturday where local government and businesses were asked to make joint efforts to improve the overwhelming numbers of people in need.

Commissioner Carol Whitmore said she was very concerned with the despair senior citizens were having to experience living their last years with limited conditions and wanted to help put more dignity back into their lives. She said, "I just want to make their life better if we can."

Commissioner Joe McClash asked about the allotted 20 percent of funds being available for administrated services, thought that might be a little high, and asked if it could be reduced to 15 percent, making almost $300,000 more dollars of the estimated $2 million annually in CDBG/HOME available for projects. He asked, "Why so much for administration? I just have some trouble with that level of dollars" 


Suzie Dobbs explained that many of the projects have environmental issues, legal advice and the program runs at a administrative cost averaging 16.8 percent over the years and what's left over gets used in projects. Cheri Coryea added, "These projects are the most report demanding of all. It is a stellar program."


Commissioner Michael Gallen mentioned the possibilities of funding "business incubator services" and Commissioner Robin DiSabatino offered up possible office space available to help at the CEDC offices.


Commissioners and department representatives were given a questionnaire so to incorporate other ideas into the plan. March 13, 2012 will be the first of the public hearings with the BOCC. On June 5, 2012 time has been alloted for a second meeting and adoption of the plan with the BOCC.  


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