Marietta’s population drop affects CDBG funds

Federal funding for Marietta’s low- to moderate-income areas is taking a hit this year.

Marietta City Council’s Finance Committee heard the news Monday from Development Director Andy Coleman.

“Unfortunately our population took a hit and that took us down just under one percent from the funding we were anticipating,” explained Coleman.

The funding is for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant.

During budget hearings last year, the anticipated payout for city CDBG projects was $410,000, but with a drop of 188 in population in the last year, the actual grant will be $400,092 instead.

“It’s still good news in comparison to the rest of the state and the country,” said Coleman. “The national average saw a drop of 2.2 percent and the county lost 2.9 percent. But we’re not growing so that’s where we got hit.”

The nearly $10,000 reduction hits a couple of the program’s major projects including the Paint Marietta program, dropping by $5,000 down to $25,000, and the emergency repairs program down $1,000 to $38,000.

“The worse this could do is we may have to ask the final homeowner to pitch in what’s left on their repair at the close of the year or fund a smaller repair,” Coleman explained. “And we should still be able to paint three houses still.”

But rather than dropping the Community Action Bus Line funding from the requested $40,000 originally agreed to be funded through CDBG, councilwomen Kathy Downer and Cindy Oxender requested Coleman to pull funding from the now stalled Northwest Territory playground equipment funding.

“That’s something that has been requested more than once,” said Oxender. “We need to make that funding contingent on adding lines within city limits.”

Coleman agreed, asking council to introduce the legislation this Thursday and suspending the second and third readings.

He said the changes to the budget would be due to HUD in mid-June.

“I will be able to work with Community Action and express their contingency that the funds go toward Friday night bus schedules which there have been multiple requests for,” he explained.

Other line items that also lost funding with the reduction included railing for the River Trail (-$500), tree replacement planting (-$500), and police target areas (-$500).

“The police target areas, that falls under a public service cap and we had to reduce it because of the total reduction,” said Coleman.