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2014-12-11

New well in city's future? Block grant could fund

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During a public hearing on Thursday, Dec. 4, Margaret J. Hardin, grants administrator with Austin's Langford Community Management Services, discussed submitting an application for the next funding cycle to the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program (TxCDBG). She has been working with city grants since 1997.
Under this program, grants are earmarked for cities with a population of less than 50,000 people and for non-urban counties with a total population of less than 200,000 residents. Additionally, any proposed citywide project must benefit 51 percent of the population who are identified as being of low to moderate income. To determine the required income percentage, data from the 2010 census or American Community Survey can be used or city workers may have to conduct a door-to-door survey, Hardin said.
Mayor John Hegemier asked Hardin if a new municipal water well would be considered as a funding project. "If it services all the city," Hardin replied.
Currently, the city has a grant for a sewer project from 7th and 8th streets and Maple Street. "All that's left is to hire an administrator and engineer," she said. However, Hardin noted that the city's 2014 grant might preclude Bandera's being awarded another in the next two-year cycle. "In that cycle, water and sewers will continue to be an AACOG (Alamo Area Council of Governments) priority," she said.
If Bandera receives the $275,000 grant, the city's match would be $13,750. The application for the 2015-2016 grant cycle will be due Feb. 27. Hardin said the maximum amount available for each grant application is $275,000. "There's $800,000 available, but more grants can be given with a maximum award of $275,000," she explained.
Hardin also noted that for residents who live in the city's extra-territorial jurisdiction - which extends a half mile outside the city limits - and who receive city utilities services, water and sewer lines may be repaired with grant funds, but not extended. Hardin, of course, added a caveat, "And that's only if the grant is used to provide service to 51 percent of the population that is of low to moderate income."
According to Hardin, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Section 8 sets the limits for allowable income for city residents. The median income for a family of four in Bandera County is $58,800. Moderate income is considered to be 80 percent or less of the median income, making it $47,050 for a family of four.
Past grants received by the City of Bandera included:
• 1999 - $250K, water project
• 2002 - $186,249, disaster relief
• 2004 - $250K, water and sewer projects
• 2006 - $250K, water project
• 2007 - $250K, sewer project
• 2009 - $250K, sewer project
• 2014 - $275K, sewer project
According to Hardin, city council must approve a resolution to enabled her to apply for the grant - which they will no doubt do with alacrity.