Toledo's community development corporations were lauded last year, winning three of six awards given this year by a statewide association.
But that work may be harder to duplicate as the organizations are bracing for major budget cuts.
Mayor Jack Ford has said such corporations will get less money next year because the city will get less federal money as a result of declining population. The projected half-million dollars in cuts worry local officials.
“The CDCs are all very concerned. We've been trying to figure out how to work with the administration. We haven't heard from them,” said Kathleen Kovacs, president of the Toledo CDC Alliance and executive director of Neighborhoods In Partnership.
News of the budget cuts occurs as the same organizations were honored for their work.
Neighborhoods In Partnership won the “Best Project” award from the Ohio CDC Association for its Adams Street Main Street program.
Aggie Dahar, president of the Lagrange Development Corp. board, was picked as Board Member of the Year, and Toledo Local Initiatives Support Corp. won as Partner of the Year.
The federal government has notified Toledo that its $10.03 million annual grant is likely to be reduced by 5 percent, or roughly $500,000, because of the city's loss of population in the 2000 census.
The mayor has said he wants to make performance a factor in awarding CDC money in the future, but Ms. Kovacs said the CDCs have little idea of what to expect.
About $1.6 million of this year's block grant went to 14 CDCs for their operating budgets in the fiscal year that began July 1.
Ford Weber, acting director of neighborhoods, said it is still too early to know how the cuts will be administered.
“Mayor Ford and the city are committed to a partnership with the CDCs to help make Toledo an elegant city,” Mr. Weber said. “We are working very closely with the CDCs.”
Ms. Kovacs suggested the mayor look to the pending merger of the two departments of Neighborhoods and Development for savings. The administration is seeking council approval to merge the departments in order to combine similar functions, but has told city council not to expect any savings.
“Maybe they ought to be looking at how that can be done more efficiently. Everybody has to look at tightening their belt,” Ms. Kovacs said. “It can't all be passed along.”
Ms. Kovacs said Adams Street, in the Uptown area, has blossomed in the past year. Eight businesses and a charter school have opened or are in the process of opening. Nine businesses have renovated their facades. People are moving into the district.
LISC, headed by Hugh Grefe, was honored as Partner of the Year for its creation of the Central City Main Street program. The program chose three local business districts last November for special attention. They were Adams Street, Galena Street, and Monroe Street between Albion Street and Rosedale Avenue.
Ms. Dahar was honored for eight years of service to Lagrange, “her work with the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Development Center, and her commitment to Toledo's CDCs,” the group said. She recently returned from a trip to Ukraine to help set up a Sister Cities partnership with Nikolpol.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who presented the awards yesterday, said she was frustrated that for years, Toledo had to return federal money available for affordable housing because it lacked the local staff to administer the funds. “When we started, the city was actually the enemy, believing that neighborhoods can't do it, that city hall can do it all,” Ms. Kaptur said.
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