Funding tight for renewal projects

By Kelly Ducote / The Observer June 12, 2013 10:28 am
The Urban Renewal Advisory Commission recommended Monday that the Urban Renewal Agency move $200,000 out of contingency in its 2013-14 budget to allow for more funding for discretionary projects.

Under the 2013-14 budget approved by the budget committee last month, only $75,000 is available for discretionary projects. The URAC was presented Monday with 15 project requests totaling more than $450,000. The group was charged with coming up with two recommendations for the Urban Renewal Agency: one plan for the limited $75,000 funding and another plan for $275,000, in case the agency decides to allocate more funds for discretionary projects prior to adopting the budget.

At the end of the three-hour meeting, the URAC voted to recommend a prorated funding strategy for the $75,000 scenario that would grant funding to five of the projects. The five projects were selected based on criteria set up by the URAC previously. 

Those projects include upgrades to the Maridell Center, the Blue Mountain Barbers building and the Stratton building, formerly occupied by Lackey Insurance. Money would also be provided for renovations nearly completed at the newly opened Tropical Swirlz and for a new office for dentist Steve McLean.

If the Urban Renewal Agency decides tonight to allocate more funding for discretionary projects, the URAC will meet again before July 4.

The La Grande City Council and Urban Renewal Agency will meet at 6 p.m. tonight to adopt budgets for 2013-14. The city council is also scheduled to hold a second reading of the ordinance to establish an Economic Improvement District. The district is intended to support La Grande Main Street and help pay the salary of a full-time Main Street director. The ordinance will fail by remonstrance if property owners representing 33 percent of the total assessment amount submit letters of objection by July 17.

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