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City Council, September 9

City to seek $146.3 Federal Grant for Spring/Fishburne drainage project
Receives State grant for abandoned boat removal, and more Federal grants
Marc Knapp

The recession may be taking its toll on revenues, but indirectly. the CIty may gain more from the recession than it loses. The City already has received a number of grants from the Federal Government under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and has many applications for further grants which are waiting for consideration. But the application that the City plans to make to finance the Spring /Fishburne Drainage Improvements will top them all.

Council last night approved a resolution to apply for a grant of $146.3 million from the US Department of Transportation under its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program. According to the resolution the project was for the “advancement of mobility, efficiency, emergency preparedness and community livability for the benefit of the residents of the City of Charleston, the State of South Carolina and the United States of America.

We don’t know why the project was dressed up in such verbiage. Maybe it was to enhance the prospects of the application. The funds applied for will cover the drainage project but the wording of the Resolution suggests that funds will be applied largely to ensuring Highway 17, as it passes through the district, will not be subject to flooding.

The Mayor noted that the economic impact of the project was estimated at $2.5 billion – in our view a very elastic figure. It takes into account, amongst other things, job creation, a benefit from the elimination of traffic delays, benefits for the hospitals, and the elimination of time lost by children traveling to and attending schools. He also said that the project eminently qualifies for the funding.

According to Council member White, $1.5 billion is available under the fund and a decision will be made late this year or early next.

To put the application into perspective, the City’s General Fund budget is roughly $120 million. Of course, the General Fund would not be used to finance the development. This would normally be done through a bond issue. But the interest and amortization of borrowings of $146 million, the grant amount sought, would amount to an annual $10 million or more.


Council also last night approved an amendment to the contract with the Consulting Engineers Davis & Floyd amounting to $1.562 million. It related to the Scope of Work on the final Design Phase of the Spring /Fishburne project.

Grant for abandoned boat removal
The City has also received a grant from the SC Department of Health and Environment Control amounting to $44,103. It is for the removal of abandoned vessels in the City’s waterways. The City is required to provide a matching grant of $14,701. Council member Mallard has been the principle driver to seek State funds. Some other Council members were concerned that the City may be taking on something that was the responsibility of the State.

The City’s funds will come for the Police Department budget where some savings have been accumulated. But there was no certainty as to the source of funds after the present tranche was exhausted.

And more Federal Grants
Council also voted to accept two other Federal Grants last night. The first was for the Police Department, for $434,200 and required no City match (One Stop Project) It was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The other was from HUD, for Housing and Community Development and amounted to $285,000, again with no City match required. The funds will be used to assist the rehabiliation of 72 rental homes of the St Andrews Garden Apartmernts in West Ashley.
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