Miami CDBG fund options result in tie vote

Alan Urban, with CAG (Central Arizona Governments), addresses Miami Town Council about nearly $500,000 in CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds the Town is slated to receive in fiscal year 2019. Photo by Carol Broeder.

The Miami Town Council has set a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 28 on the proposed use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

In fiscal year 2019, the Town is slated to receive about $490,000 in CDBG funds from the Arizona Department of Housing Regional Authority (RA).

Created by the council at its March 25 regular meeting, the list of proposed uses is as follows:

  • Town-wide street improvements;
  • Repairs and upgrades to the Miami Memorial Library;
  • Building demolition and rehabilitation;
  • Improvements/enhancements to several of the five local stairs;
  • Acquire and rehabilitate the local YMCA building;
  • Sidewalk repairs/replacements;
  • Construct amphitheater at Bullion Plaza; and,
  • Town equipment purchase, such as a street sweeper, garbage truck or paving equipment.

Alan Urban, with the CAG (Central Arizona Governments), said that the council could not add suggested projects after the March 25 meeting. The projects would then be listed and the council would have to vote on one at the April 22 meeting, he said.

At that meeting, after a lengthy discussion and a tie vote, the council voted 4-2, tabling the issue until the May 28 meeting so that Councilwoman Patty Bringhurst could be there, as well as allowing time to notify the public.

Bringhurst had an excused absence from the April 22 meeting.

Several of Councilman Mike Black’s neighbors spoke during the evening’s public hearing.

Commenting on the current Miami Wastewater Collection System Improvement Project, Paul Licano said, “The dust is real bad in that area,” which aggravates his wife’s allergies.

He suggested lowering the Canyon Avenue speed limit to 15 or 20 miles per hour to at least try to keep the dust down.

Speaking on behalf of her mother and herself, who are both Canyon Avenue residents, Wanda Black also called the dust “real bad.”

“You can’t even wash your vehicles because they are thick with dust the very next day,” she said.

Black said that she does not want to see the CDBG funds spent on equipment, instead “Canyon Avenue needs to be paved.”

Lena Tena, who also lives on Canyon Avenue, said that she recently built a new patio but “can’t enjoy it” because the dust is too bad.

“This has been going on for two years,” she said. “Please do something about it.”

Speaking as a Miami resident, Mike Black said that he talked to his neighbors about Canyon Avenue issues.

“This meeting is to decide what to do with roughly $490,000,” said Mike Black, pointing out that the previous CDBG funding was designated to pave Canyon Avenue.

“I understand that we are in litigation with the construction company but they (the residents) need answers,” he said. “We live in a town that needs to be paved.”

Calling it “a start,” Black said that Miami should use the funds to pave Canyon Avenue, Michaels Way and Fredericks Hill, eliminating the dust.

Mayor Darryl Dalley said that with the Town in litigation over work not properly done, “right now we can’t touch Canyon Avenue until the matter is settled.”

In addition, “The USDA made it very clear that the (sewer project) grant is not for working on roads,” he said.

Dalley said he would like to see Miami use its CDBG funds to buy much needed equipment, such as a street sweeper with different attachments to do different things.

“The Town could at least use the equipment to start working on the roads and clearing them after it rains,” he said. “I don’t think with the funds that we would have that we could do all of Canyon Avenue.”

Citing “dust control issues at the mines for years,” Councilman Jose “Angel” Medina talked about products the mines use, suggesting that Miami could use something similar until Canyon Avenue can be repaired.

“The technology’s out there,” he said. “We should look into it.”

Councilman Dan Moat said that dust control products are not the answer, as they would “wash away with the first rain.”

“I already picked my top 10,” said Moat, pointing out that he had previously submitted photos of streets needing attention, which are “not even being discussed.”

“I appreciate all the issues everyone’s talked about tonight,” Town Manager Joe Heatherly said. “But, if we don’t have the right equipment to do repairs to the streets, it would not be a good idea to do the streets because we wouldn’t have the equipment to maintain them.”

Heatherly also reminded that council that CAG takes a percentage to administer the CDBG funds.

Urban said it would be about 11 percent of the total, which Mike Black pointed out would be about $55,000.

“Don’t get stuck on that figure,” Urban said. “Congress might change it, so it could go up or down.”

A discussion ensued about the Town’s USDA loan for making repairs to Sullivan Street and Plaza and Canyon Avenues. While the loan is for the sewer project and not street improvement, funds can be used to repair streets damaged in the process.

Heatherly said that the work on those streets could probably be completed in three months.

Mike Black pointed out that only one-half of Canyon Avenue would be paved at that time.

“Let USDA pave half the road and use the CDBG money for the rest,” he said.

Vice Mayor Sammy Gonzales said the reason he is on the council is that the people voted him in.

“I’m supposed to be their voice,” he said. “I hear them saying that the roads are terrible. I don’t hear them asking for equipment.”

Acknowledging that the CDBG funds would not be enough to fix everything, Gonzales said, “we could do it in increments.”

“I will stand firm,” Gonzales said. “I want this money to be spent on streets.”

Calling it “a difficult issue,” Councilman Don Reiman asked, “Where do you draw the line? We have a public works department that cannot do what it needs to do. We need basic, maintenance type equipment to protect the investments we have made.”

Reiman recommended “doing a little bit of both,” to which Urban replied that CDBG funds can only be used for a single project and cannot be split.

Heatherly said that even if the Town could pave either Plaza Avenue, Sullivan Street or Canyon Avenue, “What do you do after that? There would be no more money for two-and-a half years.”

As to the public works employees, Heatherly said, “You can’t just give them a broom and tell them to sweep an entire street.”

Black recommended selecting street improvement, but not any particular street at this time, to which Urban replied that the community could prioritize a list of streets in August.

Saying it would “buy us time until August,” Black moved to select project No.1, “town wide street improvement as identified by the Town and to be named in August.”

The vote ended in a tie, with Dalley, Medina and Reiman casting nay votes.

After Urban pointed out that Bringhurst was missing that evening, Black moved to table the item until the May 28 meeting.

The motion passed by a 4-2 vote, with Dalley and Medina casting the nay votes.

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