State rejects Baldwin County, cities' request for disaster funding planning assistance

Guy Busby
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 11/9/22

FOLEY — Local cities needing disaster grant funding following Hurricane Sally will have to go through Baldwin County, a move that will complicate relief efforts, local officials said.

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State rejects Baldwin County, cities' request for disaster funding planning assistance

Posted

FOLEY — Local cities needing disaster grant funding following Hurricane Sally will have to go through Baldwin County, a move that will complicate relief efforts, local officials said.

The Baldwin County Commission and municipalities agreed Oct. 6 to ask the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to oversee the program to provide relief for unmet needs following Hurricanes Sally and Zeta.

Officials said at the time that having ADECA oversee the funding, rather than the county, would be more efficient.

At a county work session Monday, Oct. 31, Cian Harrison, county treasurer, said ADECA had rejected the proposal.

"They are not changing anything at this point, so right now the way the action plan will read is that the county will administer all those funds for the municipalities," Harrison said.

Commissioner Charles "Skip" Gruber said the county does not have the staff or resources to process county and municipal relief needs.

"It's going to be more than we can handle," Gruber said. He said state officials suggested the county get outside help to process the funding.

Baldwin is eligible for about $43 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Funding, according to county reports.

At the Oct. 6 meeting Kathy McHugh, county grants administrator, said the best way to distribute the money would be for the municipalities to deal directly with the state rather than having the county act as an intermediary. At that meeting, local mayors agreed to ask to work directly with the state.

Harrison said Oct. 31 that some funding would be available to pay for consultants, but county staff members would still be needed to work on the project.

"There will be funding," Harrison said. "The thing is it's not just as simple as having a consultant come in and do that work. There's a lot more to it. We would still have to have staff available to help oversee that. It's a very large undertaking."

Harrison said she believed the county would have to hire more workers, but the process will still be complicated.

"The recommendation is that we will need to hire more staff. I think that's probably a given," she told commissioners. "The biggest piece is, though, is where do we go with the CDBGR. I don't know if there is somebody at the state that we can reach out to that can make a difference. I don't know the answer to that, but we're willing to do whatever the commission would like for us to do."

Gruber said the county will need help to handle the process.

"I think that we're going to have to find somebody to help us administer this," Gruber said. "We're going to be the administrator of at least part of this regardless of whether we want it or not. We just need to be looking at it."

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