Marietta City Council to review CDBG options

With a record-breaking year in the number of requests for federal Community Development Block Grant funds in Marietta, city council now has three weeks to weigh its options.

Council may now review and edit recommendations made by Development Director Andy Coleman before the budget is finalized for the federal application and the subsequent required public hearings begin.

Coleman explained that requests made by members of city administration and council were weighted differently than those requests submitted by citizens of Marietta.

“That’s how we tallied the total number of requests to 193.5,” he explained to council’s finance committee Monday. “If a request was made by a private citizen then it was given one full point whereas if it came from a member of council or the administration it was given a half point.”

Last year was also a record-setting year in citizen-driven requests, with the highest-requested project coming from eight citizens.

That project, crosswalk repairs at Maple and Franklin streets, was ultimately not funded through 2019 CDBG funding but was funded through recaptured funds from prior federal grant years.

Coleman’s report Monday then listed from highest to lowest the number of requests each project submitted for 2020 federal funds had.

The most requested project, at 46 points, was aid for the Toy and Doll Museum roof replacement at $10,000.

But Coleman explained that he would not recommend CDBG funds be allocated towards that project because of its ineligibility as a non-residential repair, despite being in a low-income location.

The most requested and recommended-for-funding project was for new trail maps and board centers for the River Trail.

At 24 points and a $4,000 request, Coleman recommended that $3,000 of the request be funded through CDBG 2020 money.

Council will next digest the recommendations from Coleman for what to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The next discussion and potential edits will occur at the first finance committee meeting in September.

Council will then introduce legislation to authorize the grant submission at its first regular business meeting that month, with the final public hearing and vote during the first regular business meeting in October.

Other business:

Assistant Safety-Service Director Bill Dauber also reported jointly to finance and the employee relations committee that the public facilities department has hired one seasonal laborer to date and is still looking to fill three more seasonal hires at 29 hours per week to supplement the pooled labor.

City Law Director Paul Bertram said his further research into the seasonal hires for parks and cemetery labor shows their hire is authorized from April through Dec. 20.

Finance Chairman Mike Scales confirmed the approximately $29,500 funding to pay for the positions will see its final reading and vote on Thursday.

Other financial requests Monday included:

– A $15,100 addition to the capital improvement fund, for contingency emergency funds.

“This gives (city administration) more flexibility for smoother operation,” said Scales. “It’s been used for some equipment purchases and upgrades.”

While supporting the purposes of the fund, council members present asked to continue the discussion of how the fund is spent for the next audit committee meeting.

“I’m OK with the $15,000, but (want) to keep a tally of what it’s spent on and how much money total for the year has been spent from this as well,” said Councilwoman Cassidi Shoaf.

– A $5,215 transfer from the state highway improvement fund to streets and sidewalks to cover the Lancaster Street paving improvements to follow this year’s waterline replacement project on Harmar Hill.

– A $3,000 repair for the bucket truck used to service traffic signals.

“It is a rather elderly truck,” said Dauber. “It is what I’m told a potentially dangerous truck…So coming forward I am going to explore opportunities to purchase a new bucket truck next year, some $160,000, that we could lease.”

Dauber said the needs and requirements of the truck’s use would be further discussed interdepartmentally this week.

– And a $1,600 transfer cemetery fund, to replace a damaged headstone, paid for through an insurance settlement.

Council will next meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for its regular business meeting.