Downtown façade CDBG app moving forward…

… but fire department told to seek outside funding for essential equipment

The Jefferson city council approved a resolution to apply for a Community Development Block Grant, with a $250,000 commitment of city funds for improving downtown storefronts, at its regular council meeting Tuesday night.

A public hearing on the intent to apply was held with no comments. The council then approved the resolution to apply and a resolution “finding the existence of slum, blighted or economic development areas” in support of the application, and a contract with the Franks Group for $36,500 to do work related to the grant. If the grant is funded, Franks Group’s payment will count toward the city’s match. Should the grant not be funded, the city is still obligated to that payment.

The council also gave approval to the Jefferson fire department to seek funding from Grow Greene for air packs, which are “essential equipment” according to fire chief Randy Love.

Love told the council that the department’s air packs are not compliant with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and that he has applied unsuccessfully for funds to replace them from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the past two or three years.

Within the past year Love has sent five air packs in for repair. “We’re getting to the point where they need to be replaced. It’s not only for our safety, but for the public’s safety…. It’s an essential tool that we use a lot,” Love said.

The non-compliant air packs are functional, but Love explained that should a firefighter get injured while using one, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would get involved.

The department needs to replace 20 packs. Love is looking for funding for 10 this year at a cost of about $73,000. The fire department’s budget, which is funded from the city’s general fund, is about $95,000 according to city clerk Diane Kennedy.

The city has already received close to $65,000 from Wild Rose Casino as required by the state. That amount is expected to be close to $125,000 per year.

In addition, Grow Greene plans to give the city $50,000 per year from the charitable funds generated by casino gaming. There are no “strings attached” to either the Wild Rose or the Grow Greene funds.

The council has not yet had public conversation about how it will use any of the new funding. Council member Lisa Jaskey suggested that the council commit $10,000 of the Grow Greene money it is guaranteed as a match for the grant application from the fire department for more Grow Greene funds.

“If they didn’t get this grant, we could always come back and revisit this again. We know it’s out there (the need) and there’s potential they (the fire department) could need additional funds to get this done,” Jaskey said.

“Based on what Randy said, if they don’t get the grant, we’re going to hear this issue again. They have to have the packs. There’s no question about it,” council member Harry Ahrenholtz said.

The council approved submitting the grant application.

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