AP NEWS

Money going to RDA

April 4, 2019

Editor, Daily Times:

Here is the $700,000 question,why is this amount of money going to the RDA?

Having communicated with the HUD Field Office in Milwaukee, the advice I received was; for more specific information you should contact the local government that is the recipient of Community Development Block Grant funds to inquire as to the purpose and use of any CDBG funds being provided to the Redevelopment Authority in your community. Also, the principal benefit must go for low and moderate income persons or the elimination of slum and blight. Slum and blight, here we go again! Where have we heard this before? (South side of the 100 block of West Main Street.)

I would like to hear the elected officials that made this decision to give the $700,000 to the RDA, instead of this “old money” going to the low and moderate income people, go on record and stand in the face of these people to tell them that the RDA is more deserving of the money than they are. (The needs of many vs. the wants of few.) This is a moral issue. The finance committee is recommending that this action be taken. This committee is comprised of the mayor and four aldermen. (One member is termed out, one is running for mayor and another is on the RDA board/termed out). What was the original grant money to be used for? I don’t think the past mayors/common council in office preceding 1992 intended this money to go to the RDA. (Not in existence at the time.) Why didn’t the mayors/common council succeeding 1992 use this money beforehand, instead of waiting until now, 2019, to use it? (Twenty-seven years later!) Is this a political power grab? Was this money salted away and used as a “slush fund”? Sounds like a “shell game” to me.

Additional information given to me states, The government body that is the recipient of CDBG funds from HUD or the designated subrecipient from the state of Wisconsin for the use of the CDBG funds provided by HUD to the state are responsible for ensuring that CDBG funds are used only for the purposes set forth in statute. The state of Wisconsin and local governments may provide funds to other nonprofit organizations, housing authorities and redevelopment authorities in accordance with federal and state laws. When that occurs a grant agreement is required between the entity that is the direct recipient of CDBG fund from HUD or a subrecipient of CDBG funds and the entity which is being provided with those funds. The agreement sets forth the specific requirement for the use of those CDBG funds, expected goals, record and reporting requirements. The entity which receives funds directly from HUD is responsible for ensuring that any subrecipients use the CDBG funds and any matching funds form other public or private sources for the specific purposes set forth in subrecipients agreements. So what is the RDA’s grant agreement for using “our” $700,000? Will transparency prevail concerning the change of hands of this money and the use of it?

Here are some other questions to ask yourself and our elected city officials, how long has this money been in the city coffers? Why wasn’t this money used for other purposes/critical needs before? What is the time frame that this “old money” needs to be used by? Who initiated/proposed this action be taken up by the finance committee?

Since this $700,000 wasn’t used to benefit the low and moderate income people, how many miles of “slum and blighted” city streets could this money have eliminated/paved?

John Kaliebe

Watertown