With not enough money yet for street repair, the Town of Miami will use its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for engineering work on streets that need them.
In fiscal year 2019, the Town is slated to receive about $274,266 in CDBG funds from the Arizona Department of Housing Regional Authority (RA).
At its May 28 regular meeting, the Miami Town Council voted 5 to 1 to use the money to help create “shovel ready” street projects with which to apply for other state and federal grants.
Councilwoman Patty Bringhurst cast the lone no vote and Mayor Darryl Dalley had an excused absence from the May 28 meeting.
At the beginning of the public hearing, Alan Urban, with CAG (Central Arizona Governments), explained that the town’s allotment of funds went from $490,000 to $274,266, as Pinal County had left the group, but the Town of Superior did not and still shares what is left.
Urban also talked about other CDBG funds known as State Special Project (SSP) funds, which are by separate application and are “extremely competitive.”
“The town has not applied for SSP funds recently that I’m aware of,” he said.
Calling it “a very broad spectrum of types of projects,” Urban talked about what the town used its CDBG funds for recently.
The list includes a streets rehabilitation project, the Merritt Street walkway rehabilitation and a wastewater facility improvement project, he said.
Referring to comments made at the May 14 meeting, Ray Webb, a Miami resident for 20 years, said, “‘Our streets are the worst they’ve ever been. Well, duh, we currently have a sewer project tearing them up.”
Right now, Miami does not have the equipment to clean up the streets from the water runoff after it rains, he said.
“It would be really nice to see the Town maintain its own streets,” Webb said.
Webb recommended that Miami invest in equipment before attempting to repair the roads.
Urban reminded the council and the audience that the Town would not be able to buy equipment with the CDBG funds.
“Buying maintenance equipment falls under general government services and they will not fund that,” he said. “The Department of Housing wants you to use this money, but they have to follow the rules from Washington and they said, ‘No.’”
After the public hearing closed, Councilman Mike Black said, “My main concern here is the community.”
While Downtown Miami looks fine, “I am concerned about the other side of the highway where everyone lives — the taxpayers,” he said.
“We have to do something about it,” Black said. “It is the one concern everyone in the town has. My suggestion is to fix the streets.”
Town Manager Joe Heatherly said that CDBG funds cannot be used for street repairs only.
“We can’t just replace the asphalt,” he said. “We need to make improvements — like putting in curbs and gutters.”
“There are other things we can do once we define what we want,” Heatherly said.
A lengthy discussion ensued regarding other grants the town could apply for after using CDBG funds for engineering, making potential street projects “shovel ready.”
He pointed that any street project the council chose to do would still require the engineering work to be done first.
Urban said that doing so would “quantify your choices going forward.”
“Then you would have an idea of priorities and the estimated costs of the projects, he said.
Prior to the vote, Bringhurst said, “It’s really sad that we can’t get equipment,” to which Heatherly replied, “We’ll find other alternatives to get the equipment.”
“I just have a hard time telling the people that we can’t fix the potholes but we have the money to do the engineering,” she said.
Urban told the council that Miami would also qualify for specific grant funds as a “Colonia,” which the ADOH defines as a low-income community within 150 miles of the Mexican border.
Heatherly added that the Colonia application would open in about nine months.