By NATHAN GREGORY
A public meeting will be held 10 a.m. Saturday at J.L. King Park for residents of the Carver Drive area to inform them of a grant for which the city of Starkville is attempting to apply that would provide funding necessary to pay for flooding and drainage improvements.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said Carver Drive, which is located along Wards 6 and 7, has faced problems with drainage and flooding since before he took office as a member of the board nearly 20 years ago.
Perkins said through the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, the city is developing a grant application to submit to the Mississippi Development Authority for a Community Development Block Grant. If accepted, the grant could provide a maximum of $600,000 to go toward correcting deficiencies.
MDA’s $12,038,889 overall budget for public facility improvements is divided among small municipalities (towns with populations of 3,500 or less) and “regular competition.” $5 million of the budget is set aside for regular competition. The area in the city requesting funding must have a majority of citizens of low-to-moderate income to qualify. The city only has a four-day window (May 14-18) to send in its application.
In order to determine which areas will be accepted for grant funding and for how much, MDA has a ratings system which entails the accumulation of points. Areas of competition with the largest amount of points are more likely to receive any amount of financial assistance from $100,000 to the maximum allotted amount. While small municipalities which are awarded grants can simply use the amount of money they receive, regular competition areas must be able to match a portion of what they are awarded.
GTPDD grant administrator Phylis Benson said the ratings system exists to have a level playing field for each applicant.
“(Because) the maximum grant size is $600,000 (per application), MDA could only fund eight projects (if successful applicants are awarded the maximum),” Benson said.
An area’s ability to show it is able to match or overmatch a grant dollar for dollar would a factor that will increase the likelihood of being approved. Factors such as documented need for the project, financial participation and cost benefit are indicators of point accumulation.
“In order to distribute money equally they have to have a ratings system. They like to see you match it dollar for dollar. (The city) hasn’t sent me notification telling me how much they can match,” Benson said. “Right now we don’t know exactly what their match will be, but to maximize the number of points, they have to be able to match all of it.”
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the city is currently deciding an amount it can devote to matching a potential grant.
“We’re in the process of working with the city engineer (Edward Kemp) to determine a project budget. The board will have to make a determination of the project budget as part of the process of submitting the application,” Wiseman said.
Perkins said residents of the area should be in attendance and should be ready to ask Benson questions when she provides the information about the grant in Saturday’s meeting.
“The meeting will be to inform the members of the Carver Drive area exactly what the city is attempting to do ... and the process as to what is expected when the application is due. It is my opinion that this area is indeed worthy of these grant funds ... because having the ditch piped and covered will promote health, safety and welfare of the area citizens involved,” Perkins said. “(Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn and I) have encouraged everyone in the Carver Drive area to attend. This meeting is mandatory as I see it because it is for their benefit. They’ve been trying to get to this issue predating my time in office. It’s been numerous years to no avail. I’m glad we’re at the point now where we can get this project moving. We want the same level of commitment for Carver Drive ... like we have with any other matter the city wants to do.”