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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — After loaning out $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant housing funds, Colfax is being asked to decide whether to keep the program or turn the remaining $5,000 over to the state.
The state is asking municipalities with less than $50,000 in remaining CDBG funds if they want to turn those funds over to the state, and then in the future, if homeowners with low to moderate income want a CDBG loan, they would go to the regional office at the Chippewa County Housing Authority, said Lynn McIntyre of Cedar Corporation out of Menomonie during the public comments portion of the Colfax Village Board’s June 24 meeting.
Cedar Corporation administers the CDBG funds for the Village of Colfax.
Under the CDBG program, homeowners borrow the money to repair or remodel a house at zero percent interest, and then payment on the loan is deferred until the homeowner sells the house, at which time, the money must be repaid to the CDBG fund.
The advantage to the village would be that Colfax no longer would have any reporting requirements and would no longer need someone to administer the loan program, McIntyre said.
Several village board members wondered if the money from Colfax’s CDBG fund would go to the regional office in Chippewa Falls.
The money would go to the state and could be used anywhere in the state for CDBG loans, McIntyre said.
The Chippewa County Housing Authority receives $1.5 million to $2 million every two years to loan out for the CDBG regional program, McIntyre said.
If the village terminates the CDBG program, when loans are paid back that were loaned out through Colfax, would that money also be turned over to the state? asked Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
Yes, loan repayments also would go to the state, McIntyre said.
The Village of Colfax has done a good job of using the money since there is only $5,000 left, and about $300,000 has been loaned out, she noted.
McIntyre said she had asked state officials if they were going to make it mandatory that municipalities with less than $50,000 remaining in CDBG funds must turn the money over to the state, but the officials could not say, only that at this point, turning the money over to the state is optional.
If village residents go through the Chippewa County Housing Authority for CDBG loans, there would be more competition for the money, and if Colfax retains the CDBG program, “we can help our village residents,” Niggemann said.
Keith Burcham, village trustee, asked how much work is involved for Niggemann with the CDBG program.
Niggemann said she attends meetings at Cedar Corporation from time to time, but Cedar Corporation handles all of the paperwork.
Copies of the paperwork are kept in the Colfax village clerk’s office, she noted.
Anne Jenson, village trustee, said she had received some CDBG money for her own home.
“I think it’s a good program,” Jenson said, adding that she would not like to see Colfax give up the option of having a CDBG program.
Although Colfax’s CDBG fund only has $5,000 right now, when people pay back their no-interest loans, “we will have money to help other Colfax residents,” Jenson said.
Burcham asked if the program would be difficult to get back if the village board decided to turn the remaining CDBG funds over to the state.
“You probably would not get it back,” McIntyre said.
Niggemann said she would put the issue of the CDBG program on the village board’s agenda for the next meeting on July 8.
In the meantime, village board members should be thinking about what they want to do with the program, she said.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved bartender operator’s licenses for a list of eight people. Renee Tuschl was the only one on the list who has not previously held an operator’s license.
• Approved alcohol licenses for A Little Slice of Italy and Mom’s on Main.
• Authorized spending $3,972.96 on equipment for the police department that will be reimbursed by Wisconsin Safety and Enforcement grant funding. The equipment includes a printer, radar, interior light bar, control baton and traffic cones.
• Authorized Niggemann to submit project ideas for the United Way of Dunn County Day of Caring on August 14. Teams of volunteers will work two shifts, morning and afternoon, that day to complete community projects.
• Approved purchasing a plaque for the fairgrounds recognizing Village Trustee Carey Davis’s work of painting at the fairgrounds. Davis spent “tons of time” washing buildings, calculating the amount of paint that would be needed and then doing the painting, Niggemann said. Davis said he was not expecting anything in the way of payment and wanted to volunteer his time to make the fairgrounds look better for the 100th anniversary of the Colfax Free Fair.
• Learned that the Roosevelt Street project is going to be delayed because the new curb that was installed must be torn out and put in again. The curb head has cuts, gouges and cracks, and while the problem areas could be caulked with a rubberized silicon caulk, “that’s not acceptable,” said Rand Bates, director of public works. The caulk would have to be replaced every five to 10 years, and “now we’re already talking about a repair on a brand new project,” he said. Haas Sons is the general contractor, but the concrete work was done by a subcontractor who did not have enough workers, and the concrete hardened too quickly, Bates said.