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City applies for free money on behalf of SWCAP

DARLINGTON – The City of Darlington held their bi-monthly meeting Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Joe Weier of Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP) was back again asking if the council would apply for another grant, this one from the Neighborhood Investment Fund Grant (NIFG) program, on their behalf.

SWCAP and Cinnaire are constructing a 32-unit low income housing project (officially known as Farm Worker Housing, a $8.2 million project) located near the Sewer Pant in Darlington. The grant monies they are asking for would be put towards the proposed public facility portion of the project, which is adjacent to the apartments and will be owned by non-profit SWCAP.

The proposed public facility is planned as a 5,100 sq. ft. building that will house a Head Start and Free Clinic/(WIC) a special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children. An additional 1,500 sq. ft. community building is also being planned.

Earlier this year SWCAP applied for a CDBG grant for the public facility but was denied.

The NIFG program is being administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). The $200 million program that aims to help Wisconsin communities recover from the pandemic, was announced by Governor Tony Evers in late September.

The NIFG program will provide funding for significant projects that provide long-term benefits to communities while also addressing negative impacts from COVID-19.  The program places special emphasis on projects benefitting communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The program is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Weier said, “DOA approached us, with the Head Start and the clinic, thinking it maybe a good project. The funding will go directly to the city of Darlington. The awards will be between $1 million and $15 million, with no match necessary. The project would need to be completed by 2024. It would help with the infrastructure of water and sewer for the buildings and the smaller community building.”

Alder Steve Pickett asked, “In the funding part of it – is it one of those where we advance the funds for the project and then get reimbursed or is it one where we get the funds and pay them out? Sometimes these reimbursements come pretty slow and we would need money to advance.”

Weier answered, “I think you would have the money in your hand before the checks would be dispersed. They (DOA) would send a check to the city, then it would get dispersed to company A, B & C.”

Pickett said, “Do we disperse it to you or to company A, B & C?”

Weier: “I think you would disperse it to A, B & C, but it would be in your checking account first.”

Mayor Mike McDermott asked, “How much are you applying for?”

Weier: “It was $1.4 million, but with prices going up, I’m guessing it would be more. I don’t anticipate it would be over $2 million, but until we get all those numbers. They say $1 million is the minimum and $15 million is the max.”

Pickett made a motion to apply for the NIFG program on behalf of the SWCAP. Second by Alder Erin Gallagher.

Alder Dave Roelli asked a question before the vote, “The project that you are intending to use these funds for, according to the paperwork you sent out the funds are to be used for ‘local units of governments with funding for transformative community projects designed to offset impacts of Covid19 for individuals in communities disproportionately impacted by covid19 pandemic’ are you convinced that this project fits those requirements?”

Weier answered, “The DOA approached my executive director and he said that this project would fit. In the Head Start and clinic we would have social distancing and a high end venting system, could help the impact. Whether or not they agree with that…”

It seems that a building that has yet to be built, has not been impacted by covid19.

Alder Josh Goebel asked, “What other projects are eligible for the NIFG?”

Weier: “It’s very vague, it just says impacted by covid. It says you could apply for several of them, there’s $200,000,000, in the webinar I was in they said we could apply for five different ones.”

Roll call vote – all aye. Approved unanimously.

The awards will be known in December of 2021.

Weight Room Equipment

The Park & Rec Committee approved the purchase of new weight room equipment. The committee received three bids Fitness Equipment Services - $7,195; Summit Commercial Fitness - $5,675; Matrix Fitness - $8,509 according to Park & Rec minutes.

Alder and Park & Rec Chair Ray Spellman said, “I went up and looked at them and I think this is a legitimate expense.”

Director Amy Prine said, “There are six pieces of equipment, three are refurbished and three are new. I do feel this equipment is necessary, safety wise and upgrading some of the equipment we have.”

Roelli asked, “What will you be doing with the old equipment?”

Prine: “They’ll take it.”

Roelli: “So there’s no value to it?” Answer no.

Pickett asked “So you have money in the 2021 budget, according to what this (handout) looks like.”

Prine answered correct.

Spellman made a motion to purchase the equipment from Summit Commercial Fitness of Madison for $5,675. Second by Gallagher. Approved.

In other business:

•Approved the proposed 2022 City of Darlington budget advertisement.

•Approved a certified survey map request from Tin Shed, LLC that was approved at a previous Plan Commission meeting.

•Approved ordinance 07-2021, an ordinance amending chapter 2 of the municipal code regarding wards and aldermanic districts, within the City of Darlington.

•Approved vouchers in the amount of $245,716.

Reviewed a report on the final 2021 assessed value. Comparing 2021 to 2020 residential was up $213,500, commercial up - $145,000, manufacturing down $1,081,000, agriculture up $1,600. Personal property down $37,300, manufacturing personal property down $1,582,300. Total assessment was down $2,340,200 at $133,258,600 in 2021. The 2021 equalized value is at $144,514,500.

•The Chamber is planning a ribbon cutting on Sat., Nov. 27 at 10:30 a.m. (as of right now), celebrating road construction in the downtown being completed.