City officials are hoping to tap into more grants that, if awarded, will help the city perform millions of dollars in infrastructure repairs and upgrades at relatively little local cost.
The city has already been successful with recent grant awards requiring small percentages of local matching funds. Several grants currently in process are ones to perform street and utility infrastructure repairs on two streets in southwest Mineral Wells and sidewalk repairs along N.E. 1st Avenue, as well as the downtown streetscape and pedestrian crossings work.
City Finance Director John Moran on Tuesday informed council of a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant resulting from Hurricane Harvey in 2016. Palo Pinto and Parker counties both declared federal disaster declarations at the time, making both counties eligible for federal assistance.
Council gave Moran and the city approval to apply for up to $3 million requiring just a 1% local match – $30,000 – that would provide flood drainage and mitigation improvements. The city's share would come the storm water utility fund, which currently has about $190,000.
"We have a really great opportunity we can take advantage of that I think is one of the best grants I have seen in a long time," said Moran, who has been instrumental in finding and securing grants in recent years.
The grant would have to benefit an area of predominately low- to moderate-income families. The grant would fund a project to move stormwater runoff in the southern portions of the city that during times of heavy rains and flooding can back up, flooding homes and businesses.
"With all the drainage problems we have in this town and we can get $3 million for 1%, put the application in the mail as soon as we get off this meeting," quipped Councilman Brian Shoemaker.
"Absolutely this is an amazing opportunity," said City Manager Randy Criswell. "A 1% grant, I have never heard of it under any circumstances."
Criswell tempered expectations, explaining it could be difficult for the city to obtain any of the grant's available $130 million as areas more impacted by the hurricane could receive funding higher priorities if they apply for funding.
"We are going to go after this as hard as we can," Criswell said. "We may be facing competition."
"You don't see 1% match grants out there hardly ever," said Councilman Doyle Light. "We are very fortunate to have a chance at this. Stay up late tonight. Let's get that done."
Moran reminded council of a Corps of Engineers flood control project that remains in play. That project would perform up to $12 million in improvements to the drainage canal through downtown, with the city providing matching funds or services totaling $600,000.
"That Corps of Engineers project is still out there," Moran said. "It has been delayed but they are still interested in doing a project for us. There are places in the canal that are starting to collapse and are in bad shape."
Council also approved moving forward with a Texas Department of Transportation agreement for $1.3 million in runway improvements at Mineral Wells Regional Airport. The city's match is 10%, or $130,000.
Criswell said the city has already provided $90,000 toward the grant match, and said he was told the remaining $40,000 could come from the $69,000 in eligible airport CARES Act funding.