The Town of Duncan could stand a much greater chance of obtaining grant funding after the council last week agreed to allow SEAGO to begin managing its Community Development Block Grants, said Interim Town Manager Philip Cushman.
CDBGs are funds given to counties, cities and towns across the country by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for various projects that can provide decent housing, help expand economic opportunities or increase public services that will improve the lives of moderate to low income people.
Many communities hire one person who is solely responsible for writing up grant applications and overseeing the projects, but smaller communities don’t have that luxury, Cushman said.
He asked the council to allow the Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization to take on the task. Keith Dennis is already performing that function for several small communities, Cushman said.
“I’ve worked with Keith Dennis before, you know, and he’s really a great guy,” Cushman said. “This is a man that really cares about rural small towns in Arizona. This is his passion.”
The arrangement with SEAGO is long overdue, he said.
“This is something we should have done a long, long time ago because the performance on your grants, helps you get more grants. If you can’t take care of your grants, why should anybody give you more?” Cushman said.
Having one person who has already been trained on the complicated federal process overseeing it will ensure no mistakes are made and no deadlines are missed, he said.
SEAGO receive a percentage of every CDBG obtained, but Cushman said it’s well worth it.
“You’ve heard people say ‘Never be your own lawyer, never be your own doctor.’ Well, you know, never be your own grant manager. There’s a lot of wisdom in letting somebody that’s a professional do that,” Cushman said.
Dennis will be going over past CDBG projects in the coming weeks and while he’s doing that, Cushman said he hopes residents will start thinking about projects they’d like the town to take on.
In other matters, the council instructed Cushman Wednesday to reach out to the Arizona Department of Administration to see if they can help the town get a pool cover for less money than the prices quoted to them by private companies thus far.
Cushman said because the agency buys in bulk for many municipalities it can often purchases things at a far lower rate.
When the town initially obtained a quote for a pool cover it was $4,000, but it has since jumped to $10,000, he said.
By covering the pool, the town would no longer have to drain the pool annually, Cushman said.
In recent years, the town has had to drain and fill the pool as many as six times in order to get the pumps working, which he believes is “irresponsible.”
Draining the pool can also result in cracks, Cushman said.
On Friday, the town also held a workshop during which representatives from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns held a training for council members. They learned about open meeting and public records laws, how to run council meetings and about conflicts of interest.