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Bertie weighs grant options

WINDSOR – Bertie County officials took the first step here Monday in seeking a new Community Development Block Grant.

During the regular meeting of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, the body held a public hearing in which they discussed the four categories the county can seek CDBG funding from the Community Investment and Assistance Division.

Mike Barnette appeared before the board to inform them of the possibilities as the county moves forward with the project. He walked the board through possibilities of funding infrastructure, scattered site housing, small business and entrepreneurial assistance and the NC Catalyst Program.

Barnette said the Infrastructure program will allow for the installation or replacement of new water and sewer lines where the existing conditions threaten public health or the environment or provide improvements to water or sewer treatment plants which have specific problems such as a moratorium.

The funding for that grant is based on severity of need, percent of low to moderate income households and project feasibility.

There is $3 million available for Tier 1 counties, of which Bertie County is one, and another $3 million for all other counties. There is no match for a Tier 1 county.

The Scattered Site Housing Program has been active in Bertie County for a number of years and is one of the programs the county is likely to seeking funding from.

The county is eligible to apply for $400,000 according to Barnette. Bertie has received funding in 2002, 2005 and 2008.

Applications for the scattered site project are due by March 30.

The third possibility is the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Assistance Grant Program which is available to assist small businesses to expand and create or retain permanent fulltime jobs for primarily low-moderate income people.

The grants can cover infrastructure improvements, purchase of land, building construction, building renovation, construction of tenant improvements, leasing of space, purchase of capital equipment or job training.

A total of $25,000 per job is available with a minimum grant of $150,000 and a maximum $250,000 grant.

The NC Catalyst Program is available to help with single family housing development, multifamily housing development, other housing activities, public facilities and non-housing activities.

Barnette said the program was new and that many were still trying to work their way through regulations.

Commission Vice Chairman J. Wallace Perry asked if it were possible to use the public facilities grant for a building used by a food bank. Barnette said he could check on it, but didn’t know off the top of his head.

“Basically, they are trying to get you to tell them what we want to do and I think the more you want to do, the better the application will be,” he said.

The public hearing was then opened to comments from the general public, but none were made.

The board agreed to consider their options as they move forward, but did not make a decision on which grants they will pursue at this time.