City CDBG-DR action plan goes to HUD

With discussion for next year’s budget looming in the near future, Minot City Council met late Thursday afternoon at its City Hall chambers to discuss monetary matters.

High on the discussion was the second round of Community Development Block Grant funding for disaster relief relating to the 2011 Souris River flood, funds which are administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Minot’s finance director, Cindy Hemphill, fielded some questions from the council regarding an action plan for the prospective $35 million, which will move to the HUD for consideration. A portable document format copy of the plan is available online at (cdbg.minotnd.org/pdf/2ndAllocation81213.pdf).

Hemphill explained that the plan was developed by “internal staff and a lot of direct consultation with Mayor Zimbelman,” and currently reflects input from residents that participated in a seven-day collection of public comments.

Aimed at assisting low- to middle-income families right themselves from flood affectation, two of the grant’s three projects will consist of home buyouts and street repairs. But different from the $67.6 million disbursed in the grant’s first round, the second will incorporate reimbursements for homeowner-referred expenses spanning one year from May 20, 2011.

Hemphill recommended to the council that they consider the plan split into two sections, with the reimbursement portion considered separately. As some aldermen may have flood-affected property, to avoid conflict of interest those seeking reimbursement through the program would be allowed to abstain. The city attorney opined that, though “this is not an ordinance or expenditure,” in accordance with state law “a strong argument can be made that there is a conflict of interest.”

Four of the council members assembled did choose to abstain during the vote, which decided in favor of submitting the plan for HUD consideration. Once received, the federal agency has 45 days in which to consider the plan.

A special Committee of the Whole meeting was called afterward, with aldermen questioning department heads on various aspects of their budget requests for 2014. The council will hold a public hearing on Sep. 9 to further discuss the budgets being proposed, as well as recommend any changes.