Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Community Development Block Grant cuts would reverberate at local level

DEXTER, MO (KRCU) - President Barack Obama’s proposed federal budget includes a cut for Community Development Block Grants, or CDBGs. The flexible grants are used to help cities and towns with infrastructure projects, economic development, and safety net programs.

The 7.5% decrease would amount to a reduction of $300 million nationwide. A Republican proposal has included complete elimination of the $4.5 billion Community Development Fund, most of which goes to CDBG grants.

Steve Duke is the executive director for the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission, based in Dexter, Missouri. He says that CDBGs make up about half of his funding formula for projects … ranging from industrial development to waste water treatment to drainage systems. Without them and Rural Development grants, he says he would have few alternatives.

"There’s really no other avenue for funding except for coming out of the city or county treasury. And as we all know, they don’t have a lot reserves built up either," Duke says. "So it basically either stops development or significantly slows it down, anyway."

CDBG funding cuts are also raising concerns in urban areas. St. Louis mayor Francis Slay wrote on his blog that losing CDBG would be “terrible news” for his city.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


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