Thefirst meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government was held on Wednesday, June 25, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Steve Riggs, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Steve Riggs, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Alice Forgy Kerr, Elizabeth Tori, and Johnny Ray Turnery; Representatives Ron Crimm, Robert R. Damron, Mike Denham, Ted Edmonds, David Floyd, Derrick Graham, Charlie Hoffman, Dennis Keene, Adam Koenig, Tom McKee, Reginald Meeks, David Osborne, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, and Jim Wayne.
Guests:† Commissioner Tony Wilder, Deputy Commissioner Stacia Peyton; Kellie Wilson, General Counsel, Myralee Smith-Cowley, Peggy Satterly, and Jeff Hanna, Department for Local Government; Shellie Hampton, Kentucky County Judge/Executives Association; Ron Wolf, Louisville Metro Government; J. D. Chaney and Bert May, Kentucky League of Cities; Sam Crawford, Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association; Rich Ornstein and Tom Troth, Kentucky Association of Counties; and Chief Jack Reckner, Jefferson County Fire Service.
LRC Staff:† Mark Mitchell, Donna Gaines, Joe Pinczewski-Lee, John Ryan, Jamie Franklin, Jay Hartz, and Cheryl Walters.
The first order of business was review of Executive Reorganization Order 2008-509, relating to the establishment of the Department for Local Government. Chairman Riggs introduced Commissioner Tony Wilder of the Department for Local Government. Commissioner Wilder told the committee that the executive order renames the Governorís Office for Local Development to the Department for Local Government (DLG). He stated that DLG better reflects their mission and is a comfort level with the local officials. Commissioner Wilder noted that the executive order is just a name change and they are not reorganizing the department. He added that expenses will be minimal.
Chairman Riggs asked if there would be any staff impacts. Commissioner Wilder replied no. Chairman Riggs then moved, seconded by Representative Damron, to accept the executive order. The motion carried by voice vote.
Chairman Riggs next announced that Ms. Donna Gaines, LRC Staff, would be retiring at the end of July.
The last order of business was review of the 2008 Kentucky Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program. Chairman Riggs introduced Ms. Myralee Smith-Cowley, Executive Director of the Office of Federal Grants with the Department for Local Government, to give an overview of the 2008 CDBG application. Ms. Smith-Cowley explained that the program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and that the primary mission of the CDBG Program is to assist persons of low and moderate income. She noted that Kentucky has $600,000 less than last year, and which she noted, meant that one less project will be funded. Ms. Smith-Cowley stated that $25,918,625 is available for distribution. She explained that the 2008 CDBG area allocations are as follows:† $7.5 million for Economic Development; $7 million for Public Facilities; $5.9 million for Housing; $4.5 million for Community Projects; and $1million for Community Emergency Relief Fund (CERF).
Ms. Smith-Cowley told the committee that there were only two major changes from last year which included the deletion of the Recovery Kentucky and the Lake Cumberland water supply projects program areas.
Representative Wayne commented that his concern was that the department continues to slice away at money for housing. However, upon having staff research funding for housing programs, he stated that the amount of money going into housing has been steady. Representative Wayne complimented the department for doing a good job. He said the statistics are backing it up.
Chairman Riggs asked if any particular region needed housing money more. Ms. Smith-Cowley replied that over time, housing funds have gone to western, central, and southern Kentucky. She added that eastern Kentucky has received the least amount of housing funding.
Chairman Riggs asked what happens to the money in the emergency disaster fund that is not used. Ms. Smith-Cowley stated that it will be reallocated where there are needs.
Representative Edmonds commented that his area is last in the state in being able to provide clean water to its residents. He stated that the department has been very cooperative in trying to help his county get clean water and that he wanted to publicly thank them.
Referring to the Use of Funds Report, Representative Meeks pointed out that in many cases, the historic data provided by DLG indicates that funds remained unspent for many years. He asked why this money had not been spent. Ms. Smith-Cowley stated that decisions in April of 2008, when this report was submitted, were not all completed. She said some contracts are designed to run for two years and that money is not given right upon approval. Ms. Smith-Cowley added that there is a two-year lag while projects are being planned. She noted that sometimes money is reallocated if projects fall through or are funded in later years while being developed, but money has all been allocated Representative Meeks asked that the department provide updated information on money that has been reallocated.
Representative Riggs suggested modifying the Use of Funds Report to include another column that indicates reallocated funds. He also suggested that DLG provide an example or two about projects funded with reallocated money.
Regarding the number of applicants, Representative Simpson asked if all communities apply. Ms. Smith-Cowley replied that some are more aggressive and more knowledgeable, depending on the leadership. Representative Simpson also asked how many applicants there were for 2006-2007. Ms. Smith-Cowley stated that there were approximately 60 applications totaling $39 million for 2007. She added that she did not know how many had been funded. Representative Simpson commented that it seemed like a small number of participants.
Senator Tori asked if all 2008 applications had been funded. Ms. Smith-Cowley stated that the department is just now accepting 2008 applications. Senator Tori asked long it took for an application to be approved or disapproved. Ms. Smith-Cowley said depending on the application, it would take at least three months.
Representative Riggs moved, seconded by Representative Damron, that the 2008 CDBG meets the required criteria. The motion carried by voice vote.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:10 p.m.