City defaults on Grant payouts.

City defaults on Grant payouts.

Posted in the Utica Forum

Tollo

Utica, NY

#1 Sep 27, 2013
UTICA —
The Parkway Senior Center was promised federal funding from the city. So was the Mohawk Valley Latino Association.
Yet, neither has received their respective grants, which pay for programming and administrative costs.
As the city’s Community Development Block Grants Citizen’s Advisory Committee and city officials seek proposals for next year’s entitlement funds, the Urban and Economic Development office still is waiting to release $2.4 million from this year.
“We received approval of our annual plan from HUD,” said Brian Thomas, Urban and Economic Development commissioner.“Now we’re in the environmental review process.”
The city is working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to clean up its use of the federal block grants, which were criticized in a report last winter.
City officials say they have made the necessary changes and that HUD is using Utica as an example for other cities.
Even though the awards were announced in the spring, it’s not unusual to wait several months, said Kelly Walters, executive director of the Parkway Senior Center.
“It’s part of the process,” she said.“I haven’t spoken to the city, but the funds typically don’t come until September or October.”
Thomas noted that the city is ahead of last year’s pace when the contracts were sent to groups in November. This year’s contracts should be out within two weeks, Thomas said.
In the past, the city typically set aside 15 percent of the grant funds for local nonprofits. Last year, Mayor Robert Palmieri directed the city to slash funding to nonprofit groups and focus the money on specific neighborhoods, rather than spread it out over the city.
The city will have a little more money to spend next year. For the past few years, a large portion of the city’s federal funding was spent to repay loans that the city had co-signed.
In 2013-13, the city spent $886,999 on federal loan payments.
For 2013-14, the city will spend $439,019 to pay back federal loans that Hotel Utica and the Mayfield projects defaulted on.
After the 2014-15 year, the Hotel Utica loan will be the only one still on the books, freeing up thousands for paving, sidewalks or nonprofit groups.
Ken Roser, chairman of the advisory committee that grades proposals from nonprofits seeking funding, said he was unaware that the funds hadn’t been released yet.
“Last night was the first time I became aware that the funds hadn’t been distributed yet,” he said.“It came as a surprise.”
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