CHIPLEY — The Vernon City Council held a public hearing and fair housing workshop Monday prior to their regular council meeting to start the grant ball rolling.
Fred Fox, president of Fred Fox Enterprises of St. Augustine, was at the meeting to conduct the fair housing workshop and the public meeting required before the city can begin the process of seeking a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant for the city.
Fox explained the process of applying for a 2013 CDBG grant, and said the deadline for applying is March 2014. “There will probably be a second round of 2014 grants in the fall,” Fox said. He noted that the 2013 application process had been postponed until 2014 by the Legislature.
Fox also ran through a fair housing workshop for the audience, which discussed the history of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The fair housing workshop was also one of the requirements en route to applying for a CDBG grant.
“The first step is for the council to form a citizens’ advisory task force, and have them meet and come up with some possible projects,” Fox said.
The CDBG grants can be used for infrastructure, housing renovations or even economic development, Fox said, but the projects must be of benefit to low income residents.
“In the case of economic development, the city has to have a business pretty much in its pocket, ready to make jobs,” Fox said. The grants for economic development can go up to $3 million based on the number of jobs the new business would bring.
“Most of the time, these grants are used for housing or infrastructure,” Fox said. “One of the projects we are looking at with the engineers involves sewer and water line improvements.”
Following the public meeting, the regular meeting began and the council discussed approving the interlocal agreement with the Washington County Library.
“One thing in here that concerns me is the agreement says we’ll clean the library,” Council President Tina Sloan said.
At the time the interlocal agreement was being struck, the city had an extra employee, but that position is no longer filled, Mayor Michelle Cook said.
The council agreed to table the agreement until the county could be contacted and the cleaning situation discussed.
The council also approved $500 Christmas bonuses for the city’s three employees for a total expense of $1,500.
“Thank you for all the work you do for the city,” Hawkins told Deputy Clerk Karen Dodd and Public Works Director Gerald Ward, both of whom were at the meeting. The city’s third employee, Ronald Wood, was not in attendance. “Tell Ronald thank you for us as well,” Hawkins said.