Block grants on chopping block?
During its April 12 meeting, the Mono Board of Supervisors plans to conduct a public hearing at 11 a.m. to get input on the County’s proposed 2011-2012 Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program. Looking down the road, indications are it might be a good idea to get what we can while the getting’s good.
Even with final details of many federal spending decisions for this fiscal year and next still way up in the air, CDBG cuts of some depth or another appear to be unavoidable. Local governments and organizations are gearing up to push back, as well as prepare contingencies in the event that the programs are heavily gutted or [worst case scenario] scrapped altogether.
According to a statement from the National League of Cities, “Any cut to this essential program will severely hamper local efforts to put people to work and spur local, regional and national recovery.”
During the Eastern Sierra Council of Governments quarterly meeting last Friday, Mono County Supervisor Vikki Bauer gave fellow council members the head’s up that CDBGs are threatened in both Democratic and Republican budgets.
The 36-year old CDBG program is currently funded at $4 billion and is seen by local, county and state officials as a crucial support for community and economic development.
The program has, however, also historically been a target of critics who charge that the tangible benefits of the program are difficult to quantify.
Cuts range from a proposed 7.5% as put forth by President Barack Obama to steeper slashes in various budget versions being kicked around in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. “We might consider holding off sending consultants forth chasing grant money that may soon cease to exist,” Bauer said. (See the Public Notice on page 23 for more on the hearing.) –Additional sources: www.thompson.com.