Ephraim considers

projects for CDBG funding

By James Tilson

Staff writer

Nov. 9, 2017

 

EPHRAIM—During its regular meeting last Wednesday, Nov.1, the Ephraim City Council held a public hearing to provide information and seek input from the public on possible applications for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.

City Manager Brant Hanson explained what CDBG funding is, and how it is awarded. He told the council that the CDBG distributes federal funds to the states, which administer those funds to projects that qualify.

In Ephraim’s case, the agency that controls disbursement of the funds is the Six County Association of Governments (SCAOG).

Hanson told the council that the SCAOG had $500,000 at its disposal for the six counties it serves, an amount that he called “really peanuts.” However, the funds are intended to be provided to cities with significant portions of population with low to moderate income (or LMI, with “low income” being defined as 80 percent or less of the median income of an area).

Ephraim qualifies as an LMI area. Therefore, Ephraim can seek CDBG funding for any project that would be a benefit to all of its citizens.

At the meeting, Councilman John Scott said he felt that the project to complete a new well for culinary water should be the city’s priority. A tunnel used to transport culinary water from a current water source is in poor condition.

“We are at a critical stage right now,” Scott said. “If something happens to the tunnel, we could be in a bad place.”

Mayor Richard Squire disagreed. “We are going to do the well regardless of whether we get CDBG funds,” he said. He questioned whether, since the well is a must-do, using CDBG funds for the well “is a wise allocation of resources for the application.”

Scott gave his rationale for pressing for CDBG funding of the well: “I sure would like to defray the cost of the well away from our citizens as much as possible.”

Hanson agreed that the well would be a good project for CDBG funding. He said city staff had looked at that possibility already, and could use the CDBG funds for the design of the well, which would cost about $100,000. However, timing could be an issue: CDBG funds would not be issued until next July, and the city hopes to be further into construction by then.            Economic Development Chair Bryan Kimball added there were a number of other projects that could be considered for the CDBG application. The city had used CDBG funds for land purchases for low-income housing in the past. The city could also look at sidewalk improvement, extension of Main Street development, and the creation of an Ephraim Canyon trail.

Councilman Scott asked Hanson if CDBG funds could be used in addition from funding from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in connection with a project to rehabilitate the aforementioned water tunnel. The city has already applied to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for $1 million in funding for the tunnel rehabilitation project.

Hanson answered, “Absolutely. In fact they encourage it.”

Scott then asked if the city could apply for CDBG funding for more than one project at a time.

Hanson replied the city should decide on only on project on a single project in its application to the CDBG. He also cautioned that the SCAOG would have to consider applications from the entire six-county area, with at least 17 communities applying. Ephraim should consider the competition and pick a project with the “highest priority.”