The need for clarification seemed to be the key theme at Tuesday's meeting of the Community Development Block Grant committee.
The question of whether millions in aid from the state will pass through Ward County to county cities or go directly to those cities came up and no one at the meeting had an answer for it.
Greg Hagen, executive director of the Souris Basin Planning Council, believed the cities would apply right along with Ward County for the money, rather than the county getting the funds and doling them out to the cities. If the money goes directly to cities that apply, it would effectively mean Ward County would be fighting its own cities for those funds.
"I think some of that needs to be clarified because I had always been interpreting it as the county is going to be the pass-through. It's given to the county to be used, and that's always the way it's been stated," said county engineer Dana Larsen. "It's not until you (Hagen) just said this right now that it's ever come that basically Ward County's an applicant and every small city would be a separate applicant. So we technically would be fighting for the exact same funds."
It was decided the SBPC will clarify that point with the state, because as Larsen said, it would change the whole complexion of the process if true.
Another issue that remained unresolved is the CDBG environmental solicitation of views. After an environmental investigation is done a finding of no significant environmental impact from the property acquisitions must be published and the public must be given a 15-day comment period prior to those acquisitions taking place. A question arose of whether the impact finding must then go to the federal level and go through another 15-day comment period.
Larsen said if the comment periods don't run concurrently, that adds another two weeks onto the project. It was suggested the pre-agreement might allow that to be circumvented, but nobody knew for sure. It was another question the SBPC would have to clarify before the next meeting.
"The federal has their rules and of course the state has their rules, so let's make sure we get them as synced as possible," Larsen said.
In other business, the CDBG pre-agreement for property acquisition and demolition will be presented to the Ward County Commission by Jason Zimmerman of the Souris Basin Planning Council. It is a thick document and contains standard legal verbiage, but it was decided to have lawyers go over it nonetheless to ensure nothing is missing or omitted.