Grant cuts could affect local cities

Published 3:00 am Friday, March 31, 2017

The Alabama League of Municipalities has come out against some of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts claiming that they could hurt local cities.

Mayor Jason Reeves said he appreciates the League’s standing to make sure cities get their fair share, but said the programs in question have been threatened many times over his years in office.

“It’s hard to say right now what might happen, but there have been many times in the past where those funds have been threatened or have considered to have been threatened,” Reeves said. “I remember one year at a meeting during the last administration they had actually made up buttons about proposed cuts to CDBG and that’s basically the same thing now¬ they’re trying to mobilize and contact representatives and senators.”

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Among the programs that could be cut are Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), which the City has made use of in the past, such as a few years ago when the City secured a CDBG to conduct studies and draft the “Downtown Plan.”

The grants are also able to be used for water and sewer extensions and to eliminate blight within cities.

“They’ve been used a great deal and benefitted Troy throughout the years,” Reeves said.

Ken Smith, executive director of ALM, said the impact of the budget would be “disastrous,” but Reeves said he isn’t necessarily any more concerned about losing the funding than he has been in the past.

“We’ll wait and we’ll see what happens,” Reeves said. “I know the League as always will be a strong advocate for the program.”

In an email to ALM members, Smith said that CDBG grants weren’t the only funding potentially on the chopping block listing many different grants that the cuts could eliminate.

Some other programs Smith mentioned were the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Community Services Block Grant, Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) administers many of these programs. ADECA Commissioner Jim Byard  said that cuts at the state and federal level would severely impact ADECA’s ability to support local communities.

Smith encouraged members to fight the cuts no matter which side of the political aisle they fall on.

“We’ve got a big fight ahead of us,” Smith said in the email. “ Regardless of your political affiliation and personal opinions, to protect you municipality, you need to join with other municipal officials across the country to make our voices heard!”

The budget has not yet been submitted for a vote and can be changed.