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Jasper County Tribune

Colfax City Council continues to pursue CDBG grants

Council Members Curtis Small and Brad Magg look over the agenda before the Colfax City Council meeting begins.
Council Members Curtis Small and Brad Magg look over the agenda before the Colfax City Council meeting begins.

COLFAX — The Colfax City Council took the next step in the city’s process of securing Community Development Building Grant (CDBG) funds for two different projects during its regular meeting Monday. The funds will potentially help repair damage in the 100-year-old water main and assist homeowners with building repairs.

Water Main Project

On Aug. 19, 25 and 26, Simmering-Cory, Inc., an urban planning firm with 30 years experience in central Iowa, traveled to Colfax to conduct a survey regarding water quality around the deteriorated water main on sections of Walnut Street, Cherry Street, South Ryan Street, South Lincoln Street, East Front Street, North Oak Park Avenue, North Iowa Street and North League Road. The survey is one of the many steps in applying for CDGB funds for the project, and it measured the concentration of low-to-moderate income (LMI) households in the area, residents’ opinion of their water quality and public sentiment regarding the water main project.

To qualify for grant funding, 51 percent of respondents must qualify as LMI households according to federal Housing and Urban Development standards. Simmering-Cory surveyed 61 households that contained 147 people. The results of the survey concluded that 65.99 percent (97 individuals) qualified as LMI individuals, so Colfax can move forward with the grant application. The higher percentage of LMI households will be noted when the grant is scored and may improve chances of securing the grant. Additionally, 96.72 percent of respondents thought the city should undertake the water main improvement project; only 60 people responded to the question about water quality, but of those 60 responses, 40 people indicated they had seen water discoloration and noticed odd tastes and odors in their water.

The entire project is estimated to cost $1,763,000.

On Monday night, the Colfax City Council held a public hearing before voting on the resolution authorizing an application for $500,000 worth of CDBG funds to help offset the cost of the water main project. Although seven citizens attended the meeting, no one spoke on the issue. The council then voted unanimously to move forward with the grant application and then voted to secure the rest of the funds – $1,263,000 – through the issuance of bonds from the State Revolving Loan program. Of that $1,263,000, Colfax will borrow $175,000 of these funds needed for planning and design of the project from the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) at a zero-percent interest rate.

Housing Development Grant

In addition to using CDBG funds to help offset improving the water main, Colfax hopes to use CDBG funds to help homeowners revitalize their buildings. While Simmering-Cory surveyed residents on water quality, they also conducted a survey to determine Colfax’s eligibility for a CDBG housing development grant within the bounds of Elm Street, Division Street, College Avenue and Fry Street. The survey found six properties could potentially qualify.

The council unanimously voted to contract with Simmering-Cory to write the application for and administrate the CDBG housing rehabilitation project. If all properties qualify for the grant, the entire project will cost Colfax $18,120, or $3,020 per housing unit. Simmering-Cory has broken these expenditures into three different payments: an initial payment of $2,000 upon release of CDBG funds, $1,000 of payments every other month for two years ($14,000 in total) to oversee the project and a final payment of $2,120 upon project completion.

In other business, the Colfax Police Department hired officer William Sickels full-time Sept. 21, 2016. He has since graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy Basic Training School, which combined with his length of tenure, qualifies him for a raise under union contract regulations. The council voted to increase his check each pay period from $1,759.99 to $1,788.66.

The council also voted to move forward with code enforcement on the abatement of the properties on East Broadway, Fry, West Pleasant, South Montgomery and West Broadway streets. This includes moving forward with demolition on a fire-damaged garage on South Montgomery Street.

Contact Phoebe Marie Brannock at 641-792-3121 ext. 6547 or pbrannock@newtondailynews.com

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