Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stimulating the Economy: County Invests in Infrastructure, Development

Today, we used an annual allocation of federal dollars to prioritize a package of investments and programs that will help provide a boost to the local economy.

As part of our 2009 Community Development Grant allocation, we:

1. Committed $100,000 to continue providing counseling to prevent foreclosures within the County—which over the last two years has prevented more than 800 foreclosures.

2. Committed $192,000 to spend on economic development and site redevelopment.

3. Committed more than $1,800,000 to infrastructure, residential, and commercial improvement projects in 21 communities, including:

  • Street rehabilitation and improvements: $800,000 (Addyston, Blue Ash, Cheviot, Crosby Township, Delhi, Harrison, Lincoln Heights, Lockland, Norwood)
  • Housing investments/upgrades: $320,000 (Cleves, Colerain Township, Golf Manor, Sharonville, Springdale, Wyoming)
  • Business district/commercial development and improvement: $260,000 (Loveland, Mt. Healthy, North College Hill)

With these investments, we have prioritized near-term relief from the ongoing housing crisis, as well as infrastructure and economic investments that will both improve our communities and create jobs.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Renovations/improvements and infrastructure maintenance are not the same thing. I'd like to see the use of money more critically evaluated for: necessity, short and long term benefit, job creation, economic growth, ...

Anonymous said...

Now i've heard everything!!!! the bocc has voted to fund a fricking intersection in the rich yuppie district rather than keep the Loveland Initiative OPEN which provides after school tutoring, computer lessons, a pantry, etc.

Well, that's a real good use of block funds to improve the lives of low and moderate income families.

I don't think I've ever been SOOOO disappointed in the Democrats on BOCC- allowing these monies to be used as a slush fund for pet projects that do absolutely nothing but allow communities to re-direct their own budgets that are already funded through fed and state funding streams.

Shameful!

David Pepper said...

Anon # 2 -- we heard a lot about the Loveland Initiative from citizens, and I greatly respect what they're doing.

But the CDBG process we manage ultimately reflects the formal decisions made by each community. The money is passed to us by the federal government and then on to each community, and our role is to manage the process in accord with the desires of communities we represent, including Loveland.

Now, communities often propose for more items and dollars than we have money to allocate, so we must pare down and prioritize from among their proposals. Not everything they seek money for gets funded.

But it would be unprecedented to fund something that the community had NOT included in its proposal at all. I simply don't believe it would be appropriate to overrule a decision they had made, as the elected representatives of their community, as to the ideal way to allocate those dollars in that community. (ie. to cut from their priority, in order to fund something they told us is not their priority).

And in this case, in choosing among their priorities, Loveland City Council made a clear decision not to include the Initiative. While I understand that was not a unanimous decision, it was clearly the outcome of their process, and our decision simply reflected their clear statement of priority.

But we did commit yesterday to look into other ways that we might assist the Initiative prior to the funding running out late in the year.

Anonymous said...

David - what a cop out for the status quo! BS! The reason it goes thru the BOCC is part of the checks and balances to ASSURE that the best interests of the community are served, that the funds are spent consistently with the program, that the intended beneficiaries and effects are maximized... It IS NOT supposed to be a rubber stamp to every pet project that comes down the pike.

Why do you think they are SUPPOSED to include ALL requests from the community on projects proposed? Why do you think the BoCC has public hearings on it? Formality? Appeasement of the masses? Please, if the BOCC meetings are MERELY a formality and HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT ON THE DECISIONS OF THE BOCC, let us all know - 'cause we're obviously wasting our time and being made fools of thinking we can ACTUALLY affect change in our communities.

David- you, Todd, and Hartmann had an obligation to this community to serve your purpose in being the guardian for the use of public dollars. YOU FAILED.

You failed the 200 children who benefitted from the Loveland Initiatives Christmas program (I know for a fact, this program provided many of these families their only respite from a materialistic social expliotation of Christmas that leaves out many), [by the way, did you know that most of the families of those kids sent "thank you" notes to City Council for providing that program], you failed the children who benefit from the after school tutoring program, the residents access to computers and taught how to use them, the disadvantaged kids who have gotten college scholarships from LI, the pantry, etc....

This program CLOSES in the community because the BOCC doesn't want to disrupt the status quo in "Hate-land" where it is known for its greed and treatment of poor residents by City Council majorities. (Did they really only ask for $16K?? Really?)

This program is one of the most unique in the community because it is actually run by those who are also in need (just one of those little things the gov't requires is that one person on the board be a beneficiary) in this program over half those on the board are disadvantaged people stepping up to help each other and themselves. The volunteers are not a bunch rich, do-gooders coming off the hill - they're actually people from the HUD projects giving of themselves to help their neighbors and contribute to the community and its needs so they can be a part of something good and bigger than themselves.

Other nonprofits have to fight to find "beneficiaries" who will serve on their boards and work the program themselves - this program is almost entirely operated by disadvantaged populations. WHY? Because, when you've been in the same boat, you know how poverty feels, and you treat the clientele with RESPECT and that respect brings a response, a promise to do more than stand in the receiving line - to be a giver, if of nothing else, but your time.

Shame on you David, and shame on the board and the County Community Development Director for not doing your jobs on behalf of ALL citizens in Loveland and this county.
...

I want you to rescind the vote. I really do. I ask you to please rescind this vote, shatter the glass ceiling of the status quo. Require a review of ALL these projects and MAKE AN EFFORT to make these funds MEAN something more than pavement on a road - pave the way for something new, something better, something right. If you lead, the local jurisdictions will follow.

You have the power - how will you use it?

Anonymous said...

David - from the BOCC's Community Development website:

"THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (BCC) will hold a final public hearing on the tentative funding recommendations of the CD Department. Based on the input received at the hearing, the Board of County Commissioners will finalize the CD program and publicize a summary program prior to submitting the application to HUD."

Again, I call BS!

David Pepper said...

I guess we'll agree to disagree on basic governance. I am not elected County Commissioner to set Loveland's priorities for them. That is why they have their own local elections.

But we can also agree to agree. As I tried to explain, there are other ways we might sustain the Loveland Initiative without overturning Loveland's priorities, and we are exploring those solutions as we speak.

In short, there may be a way to accomplish both goals.

Anonymous said...

I just learned that since Loveland intersects 3 counties, the project being funded via Hamilton County, is actually located in Clermont County.

David Miller said...

I would like to correct a few facts in the comments left here, and a few facts left out of this discussion.

I am a founding member of the Loveland Initiative, former Cool School Director (the Initiative's after school tutoring program), and a former Board member, however do not now hold any official position with the organization.

1. The Christmas cards were sent to the County Commissioners, not Loveland City Council.

2.The Loveland Initiative does not run what is normally thought of as a “pantry.” The “pantry” in Loveland is the Loveland Interfaith Effort (LIFE) food pantry, an organization now run by church folks in Loveland. However, the LIFE pantry's business plan was written by folks at the Loveland Initiative when the former food pantry (Loveland Free Store) went out of business about ten years ago. Members of the Loveland Initiative were responsible for gathering these church folks together when this critical need arose. They were founding members of the LIFE food pantry.

3.The Loveland Initiative does however, have a “pantry.” of sorts. It is called the “Neighbors Helping Neighbors Resource Center.” At the center, local folks can get things not necessarily offered by the LIFE food pantry. Diapers, cribs, clothing, cleaning products, personal hygiene items, kitchen needs and educational items.

4. Loveland requested $250,000 and received $200,000 in CDBG funds to put park benches and parking lots in a proposed “Entertainment District.” Their application for these funds called the project a “Jobs Creation Project” however it was never called this until they started requesting these federal dollars. There had never been a discussion at the Loveland council table about actually providing jobs to Loveland residents, let alone, these proposed jobs going to low income or unemployed Loveland residents. The Commissioners heard testimony from Loveland officials who admitted that there was no plan or thought given to actually providing jobs to Loveland folks in need.

5.Loveland officials were required to reach out to the disadvantaged in Loveland to gage public opinion on how to use CDBG funds. They did nothing in this regard. All they did was put a “Legal Notice” in the Enquirer about the required public hearing. When Loveland Council heard from the public, there was no public support for seeking funds for the Entertainment District, in fact there was negative comment on this. All of the community members, spoke instead, in favor of continuing support for the Loveland Initiative.

6.The park benches and parking lots will serve the affluent who will drive into Loveland from surrounding communities to shop in boutiques, and eat and drink in trendy restaurants.

7. Even if Loveland does create jobs, this will not directly help the elderly, handicapped, or the children attending the Cool School, which comprise the majority of folks needing the services the Loveland Initiative provides.

David Miller
Loveland

More info about the Loveland Initiative can be found at lovelandinitiative.com

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