Editorial: City needs to fix its CDBG grant allocation process
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
1/16/13 at 7:22 AM
Thanks to another miscue in its Community Development Block Grant process, the city of Tulsa has been penalized to the tune of $700,930 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The reason: Some of the CDBG money for fiscal 2011 wasn't spent on time.
This is at least the third time since 2008 that foul-ups in the CDBG program have cost Tulsa painful penalties. One fine, in 2008, cost the city $1.5 million and another in 2010 cost $456,147.
HUD allocates CDBG money to the city, and the City Council in turn makes grants to various community-building programs, within federal eligibility guidelines.
Tulsa's latest trouble with HUD occurred in part because two subrecipients chosen by the council, the Shoppes on Peoria and the Rosa Parks Early Childhood and Family Safety Center, failed to spend their grants in a timely fashion. HUD frowns on the city leaving CDBG money sitting around unspent from one year to the next.
The city will have to reduce its CDBG spending for fiscal 2012 by the amount of the fine. Among other things, that will mean a cut of $195,860 to the Works in Neighborhoods code enforcement program, which will translate to less cleanup of neighborhood nuisances.
The city really needs to get its act together in regard to the CDBG program. There is a city Grants Administration Department, presumably staffed with people who are familiar with HUD requirements and should be able to keep track of deadlines and required paperwork.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett's administration is working on proposed changes to the CDBG allocation process. But a HUD official from Oklahoma City warned that Tulsa faces more sanctions if it fails to notify the federal agency of its new allocation process by a Feb. 15 deadline. The official said councilors need to "take ownership of this process." Councilor Jack Henderson blames the grants department head, Dafne Pharis.
Let's get to the bottom of this and fix it once and for all. It shouldn't be this difficult to give away money.
Original Print Headline: CDBG snafu