County panel recommends CIP spending

July 21, 2012
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The Kent County Finance Committee recommended last week that the commission spend $4.7 million on 24 capital improvement projects during the next fiscal year.

The single biggest expense on the CIP list is a $1.15 million payment on the debt service for the 2008 20-year bond package that financed the improvements made to the county’s Fuller Avenue Complex. Four projects for the county’s Information Technology Department are on the list and total $1.08 million.

Commissioner Roger Morgan noted that nearly two-thirds of the entire CIP budget — $2.23 million — was going to the debt service and IT projects. He asked if that would be the spending trend for the foreseeable future. County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio said he thought it would be. “I’d like to see more money go to IT,” he said.

“As we move forward next year, we can look at that and possibly take it out,” said Morgan of removing the debt payment in order to fund more projects. “But it all comes from the same pot.”

The county will use $3.85 million from its general operating fund and $853,568 from other revenue sources to finance the 24 projects. Kent set aside 0.2 mills from its operating milllage for the CIP budget. Delabbio said if 0.25 mills had been targeted for improvements the county would have had about another $1 million to spend on more projects. The full commission will get the CIP budget in November.

The Finance Committee also recommended the commission raise the monthly parking charge at the 82 Ionia Ave. NW ramp by $3 to $126 per month. The county leases 52 of the spaces in its ramp to businesses and individuals and receives roughly $76,000 in revenue annually from those leases. County commissioners will vote on the measure Thursday.

Committee members also suggested the commission enter into three agreements with nonprofit housing developers and accept a $1.48 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to create more affordable housing in three cities.

The Genesis Housing Corp. would receive $370,000 of that total for a minimum of four rental units in Grandville. LINC would receive $717,000 for at least six single-family homes in Wyoming, and ICCF would receive $400,000 to create four single-family homes in Lowell. The money can be used to acquire houses, rehabilitate properties, or demolish a home and build new. The housing is targeted for low and very-low income households — those at or below 50 percent to 80 percent of the area’s median income.

Accepting the grant means the homes have to remain affordable under HUD guidelines for at least 15 years and possibly up to 20 years. Sangeeta Ghosh, an assistant corporate counsel at the county, said all the proceeds from rent or a sale that the developers receive go back into the program. “We do monitor them on an annual basis and they have to keep strict records,” said Ghosh.

The affordable-housing program is part of the action plan the county’s Community Development office engages in each year. Commissioners will vote on the issue Thursday.

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