At the Sebastian City Council meeting on March 23rd, 2022, Sebastian City Manager Paul Carlisle recently expressed difficulty with using Cares Act Money from the Federal Government Agency, Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The funds were provided as a block grant to the City. The City was going to use them to fund sidewalk repairs, at a cost of around $50,000.
When the City went to submit the information required for the grant, under the Federal Government’s criteria, they were told that using the funds for Sidewalk repair, was not a reason to use the funds, despite it being a criteria by the Federal Government to do so; the City also made sure to follow due diligence to follow all the criteria set out by the Federal Government. Despite the efforts by the City, they kept being told they were not following the rules.
There were multiple Zoom calls by City Manager Paul Carlisle and a City Employee to resolve the issue, so the funds could be used. Ultimately, there was no way to solve the issue due to the Federal Government being unable to follow their own rules and lack of clarity on how to use the funds.
We reached out to City of Sebastian Community Development Department employee Lisa Frazier for comment regarding the current funding of the Sidewalk project. She said “Administrative costs for the CDBG programs are covered by CDBG. However, we had already allocated funding for the project with Community Development Block Grant funds and Community Redevelopment Agency funds. Due to escalated cost of concrete and construction, we had to utilize the City’s Discretionary Sales Tax to cover the amount allocated to the CARES ACT funding. It was unfortunate since all the HUD documents allow for the CV funds to be utilized for infrastructure, however proving that the use of the funds ties back to COVID relief or prevention was the tough sell we could not risk.”