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Grants, EDC forefront of council discussion

The Madera City Council on April 3 began the process of allocating $1.1 million of Community Development Block Grant money that comes annually from the federal government to help needy people.

The council discussed grant applications and heard testimony from those who sought renewal of present funding, or additional or new money.

Some requests were denied because money from past grants had not been spent according to HUD rules.

Some $500,000 remained unspent from previous grants, although it was not clear why that was the case.

The city’s grant administrator, Ivette Iraheta, stressed that HUD, which casts a suspicious eye on how past grant moneys have been used, puts great stock in the quality of reports submitted by past grantees on how the money they received actually did the work it was supposed to do.

She broadly hinted that some past grant recipients had not done a good job of record-keeping.

The City Council didn’t make a final decision on who would get how much money, but some past recipients came up short.

The final decisions will be made on Wednesday, April 17, the date of the next regular City Council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

In another matter, the council voted to renew the city’s agreement with the Madera County Economic Development Commission.

The commission allows Madera to work with Madera County and Chowchilla in tandem to foster economic development.

Last month, the City Council held up its vote on continuing its relationship with the EDC until it could be shown that the city’s $177,000+plus investment in the commission was paying off.

The deadline for ending the EDC agreement, however, turned out to be at the end of March, too late for the city to get out of the EDC coalition for another year.

City Councilman Santos Garcia suggested that the council make a decision on whether to continue its partnership with the EDC somewhere near the end of this year or the first of next year, to give the council plenty of time to analyze whether it wanted to continue its investment.

The council was given copies of several letters from county business people indicating their support for the EDC and praising the work of Bobby Kahn, the executive director of the EDC, and his staff.

Kahn indicated he would make quarterly reports to the council on the activities of the EDC.

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