The Carter County Commissioners approved seeking a grant that could bring some funds to District 1. 

The commissioners voted Monday to approve applying for a Community Development Block Grant for Fiscal Year 2017. Michelle Powell, CDBG coordinator at the Southern Oklahoma Development Association, presented information about the grant application process. 

“This is a competitive grant with the Department of Commerce,” Powell said. “We’re going to be doing county road projects to help the citizens of the community.

“Community revitalization, which is roads, community centers, fire departments, ambulances those are the things this grant is for.” 

The grant, which will bring $120,000 to District 1, is for the purpose of servicing “low to moderate income” residences and communities throughout the state are able to apply for the grant. The funds for 2017, if granted, will be completely allocated to District 1, as District 3 didn’t qualify for the grant. District 1 will make a cash match of just over $27,000 if the grant is approved. 

The grants opened up in January and applications are due at the end of March. In order to determine if an area qualifies for the grant, SODA works with districts in surveying, estimating project costs and in gathering information. Granters are looking at the income specifications, cost effectiveness and other aspects of projects in rewarding the grants. 

“It’s been a pleasure working with all of you,” Powell said. “We appreciate your hard work and it’s been very, very helpful.” 

Powell briefly mentioned the options for CDBG grants next year, but with the recent federal budget released from the White House the viability of the program is in question if funds are cut as projected. 

In addition to approving the grant, the commissioners approved a resolution stating their position on House Bill 1165. The resolution is to allow the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma to represent all 77 counties in discussions surrounding the bill, which deals with the handling of county infrastructure monies. 

Currently, an estimated $800 million in funds, which are earmarked for county projects, is “sitting” at the state level because of the current budget crisis, and Jerry Alvord, District 3 commissioner, anticipates those funds will be taken by the state to help with the shortfall. 

House Bill 1165 allows those funds to be allocated directly to the counties, rather than go through the course of the state, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and then to the counties. The problem, according to Alvord, is the funds, which would go directly to the counties, would be distributed equally among the 77 counties. Alvord said some commissioners are hoping the funds can be distributed in a different way. 

“Some counties cost more to run than others do,” Alvord said, noting some counties have higher populations or higher use and require more money to operate. Alvord said he would like to see the funds go to the Circuit Engineering Districts, which would then allow the funds to be distributed through commissioners discussions at CED board meetings. 

Other items approved Monday included the following:

• Advertising bids for a 2008 Chevy Wheelchair Van 

• Advertising bids for county property in Ardmore 

• Approving the Buy Board National Cooperative membership

• Appropriation transfers for the Sheriff’s Department 

• County officer’s reports 

• Requisitions for county highway, general government and all cash accounts

• Purchase orders for county highway, general government and all cash accounts