The Orange City Council approved spending $250,000 next budget year for federal community development block grants, but City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre said the Trump administration has indicated it wants to eliminate the grants.
“We just don’t know what the (federal) budget will be,” he said.
One of the block grant projects for the 2017-18 budget year will be to install a sidewalk along Bob Hall Road from St. Mary School northward to Interstate 10.
Uncertainty in Washington policies also led to the council to pass a resolution opposing any change to add deductibles for Federal Emergency Management Agency payments to states or local governments. Oubre said FEMA is wanting to make the states pay more for disaster recovery and that cost would likely be passed down to the cities.
He said the mayors in Orange County agreed to get city councils to pass resolutions opposing the proposed deductibles. They hope to have the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission also oppose the plan.
The Community Development Block Grants include $90,000 for code enforcement, $72,500 for the sidewalk as part of city infrastructure, $50,000 for administration and $37,500 for public service groups. Grants Administrator Sandy Wilson said a maximum of 15 percent of the grants may be spent for public service.
The public service proposals were $10,000 for Meals on Wheels, $5,000 for the Jackson Community Center, $7,500 for Orange Christian Services, $10,000 for Southeast Texas Hospice, and $5,000 for Samaritan Counseling for a program at North Early Learning Center.
The alternate public service groups were to be $5,000 for Stable spirit, $5,000 for the Greater Orange Area Literacy Services (GOALS) and $5,000 for the Gift of Life program.
District 1 Councilor Pat Pullen made the motion to put Samaritan Counseling on the alternate list and give $5,000 to Gift of Life. The council currently has five council seats filled because of the resignation of Dr. Wayne Guidry. Mayor Jimmy Sims was absent and Mayor Pro Tem Larry Spears presided. Spears was the only member to oppose taking the money from Samaritan Counseling. He said he helps at North Early Learning Center, which is a pre-school program for low-income families. He said the students there can use the help.