Funding questions and concerns lingered with county supervisors following Mondayâ€™s public hearing on a potential Community Development Block Grant application which would help fund a new health department facility.
If approved by the state, the grant would only fund $600,000 for a $1.66 million, 8,500-square-foot building. The final cost is still unknown at this time because plans do not factor in parking construction or a potential land purchase. Supervisors say these expenditures could push the project to the $2 million mark.
Even if the grant is approved, matching county funding would need to be in place by July. District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said the search to obtain additional funding is the $1 million question â€” literally.
Board President Marvell Howard said supervisors are likely to take no action on the grant application at their next meeting due to the lack of a final cost estimate, the constrained county budget and the rapidly approaching May CDBG deadline.
â€śI think the county has decided to table it until next yearâ€™s (CDBG application deadline). We will continue to work on it until then, but we feel just donâ€™t feel like proper justice can be given to the project right now,â€ť Howard said. â€śWith any county, its citizensâ€™ health and welfare is the No. 1 issue with the board. The board of supervisors doesnâ€™t take the issue lightly, either. Given our budget constraints and given there is still information that has to be gathered, I donâ€™t feel this project is feasible at this time.â€ť
During Mondayâ€™s public hearing, supervisors discussed circumventing the cost of construction by renovating the current facility. Patsy Patterson, a grant writer with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, said such renovations could be covered by a CDBG. Trainer said a 4,500-square-foot addition to the facility could come to fruition in the future, but Howard, who was not present at the meeting, said he didnâ€™t think the extra space is spatially feasible at the site. Additionally, Howard said the county could move overflow offices to the existing site in the future if a new facility is constructed.
Both supervisors said any new facility should be constructed in Starkville because the location provides a central point for health care in the county.
â€śYouâ€™re looking at pretty tough times economically right now. Not to say thereâ€™s not a need for a new facility, but I think thatâ€™s why we need to entertain doing work on the existing structure. Having said that, Iâ€™d still like to look at a cost analysis as far as renovations are concerned before we do anything,â€ť District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said. â€śThis project started off with a $1.2 million price tag; now itâ€™s almost $1.7 million plus the cost of land and parking, and looking like it will easily come in over $2 million with a $600,000 maximum grant. Whereâ€™s that money going to come from? Before I commit to anything, I want to see harder numbers. I want more answers to the questions weâ€™ve been given.â€ť
The county last applied for a $450,000 CDBG in November 2002 to pave 3.15 miles of New Light Road, GTPDD grant writer Phylis Benson said. The most recent CDBG-funded projects include Blackjack water improvements and the county education building.