As a blast from the past, the city of Roswell’s finance committee approved a resolution regarding the use of funds for development of the Roswell International Air Center (RIAC).
City Councilor Steve Henderson made the motion and Councilor Judy Stubbs seconded the motion. Henderson, Stubbs and Councilor Caleb Grant voted (3 to 0) to approve the measure. The resolution will allow the city to use funding for capital improvements at the RIAC and replead a former resolution in order for this to happen.
Juan Fuentes, the city auditor, shared a presentation explaining the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) funds are from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assist commercial, industrial and housing projects. Fuentes said UDAG had been a revolving loan for capital development in the city since 1971. Fuentes said the city has had a history with this fund for almost 30 years and now wants to use it for other projects, such as capital improvements. Fuentes thanked several members of the city staff for their assistance in researching the matter.
With the program ended and the grant closed, Fuentes said the city has no obligations, neither to HUD — or in regard to the use of the funds. Fuentes said the fund has a little over $1 million. Fuentes said the goal of the proposed resolution before the council was to preserve the history of the UDAG fund and adopt a new resolution to dedicate the UDAG funds for projects in the RIAC Capital Improvement Plan. Fuentes said the council’s action on Thursday does not “authorize the expenditure” of the funds, but rather allows usage of the funds to “expand.” He said it was posted on HUD’s website in August 2017 that the grant awards were closed.
“So even though it is broad enough from the old one, this one (the proposed resolution) kind of provides a little bit more clarity in understanding and recognizing the history — but now saying we really have other needs other than what it has been historically used for — and we’d like to use it for capital improvement projects, if that is what the council wishes to do so …” Fuentes said. “The airport advisory commission and staff, management, might come back and say this is what we’d like to use it for. And then, obviously, we’d be at the will of the council to approve those funds.”
Fuentes said the program started in 1977 and provided about $5 billion for many projects to provide assistance for a wide range of activities — including streets, construction, new and rehabilitative industrial buildings, water, sanitation and utilities, parking, equipment, office buildings and other usages.
In 1979, Fuentes said the city adopted resolution 17-45 and authorized the mayor at the time to submit an application to HUD for the grant for $3 million for economic growth for the northwest section of the city. He said the original grant was $1.5 million and was used for a variety of reasons, ranging from purchasing equipment to hangar renovation and improvements.
In February 1980, the city sought to retain UDAG money at the airport to assist in project expansion by Transportation Manufacturing Corporation (TMC) at the RIAC, Fuentes explained. As another facet to this project, Fuentes said the intent was for the remaining funds from the project to be retained in the airport fund for more industrial development. Fuentes said resolution 17-67 remains in effect because it has no end date and it was repealed by the council on Thursday.
“Another point to recognize is that even in our audit, these funds are not recognized as federal funds,” Fuentes said. “So if the question is — well are they federal funds? All the research that we have done, and talking — they are not, so it is really up to the council …”
RIAC Director Scott Stark said there is a “ton of stuff” on the RIAC list and the airport advisory commission will review it to recommend priorities for projects to the council. He said the commission will take a “careful and steady look” at what could be done with the funding.
Grant said he wanted to see the RIAC plan before approving it since he said the city doesn’t “have a great track record out there doing that stuff.” Neeb said the idea is to repurpose the funds to be available to allocate to another project. Stubbs said she has no reservations supporting it because the city will have to approve the plan using the funding — whether the RIAC plan is already approved or will be approved in the future. Grant asked if Neeb agreed with Stubb’s assessment and Neeb confirmed that he did.
Henderson stated that he was on the council in 1977 and remembered when the city was pursuing the funds at that time. On Thursday, Henderson showed support of a “worthwhile” infrastructure or economic development project.
An award for a bid for airfield marking at the RIAC was also approved by the committee on Thursday.
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at email@example.com.