Community Development ("Regular Round")
CDBG "regular round" projects have a quality-of-life objective. TNECD has six categories of funding: water line extensions, sewer line extensions, water system improvements, sewer system improvements, housing rehabilitation and community livability. Community livability projects include anything else that is eligible under the federal legislation. Popular community livability projects include rural fire protection, primary health care, drainage or street improvements, and other similar projects related to health and safety conditions in the community.
In addition to the federal regulations cited in the Overview, there are a number of state requirements that have been imposed on "regular round" projects, primarily in order to ensure that as many communities as possible are able to benefit from the CDBG program. These state regulations are as follows:
- Applications may be submitted only once a year. Normally, this is in February.
- Previous projects must be closed out before another application can be submitted.
- Eligible cities, with the exception of metro spolitan governments, or counties can submit only one application. Therefore, if there are competing needs in the community, the executive and legislative body must determine which need is most important and submit an application for only that project.
- Maximum grants are $500,000 for lines, systems and housing rehabilitation. Maximum grants for community livability projects are $400,000. The maximum grant in two consecutive fiscal years is $750,000. Communities that participate in the Three-Star program are eligible for up to $25,000 ($15,000 for community livability projects) in additional funding.
Community development grant rates are based on the ability-to-pay of the applicant as calculated by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.
Overview of Evaluation Criteria
The "regular round" program operates on a point system that measures four factors.
Community need measures unemployment and income levels in the applicant city or county and in the service area of the project. Each project is eligible for up to 100 points in community need.
Project need is a relative measure of the community need for the project being requested compared to similar projects that may be submitted. Project need is calculated differently for different kinds of projects (for example, a water project may measure bacteria content in the water, while a housing rehabilitation project uses the extent of deteriorated housing as a measure of need). Line and system projects can receive up to 100 points in project need, while livability and housing projects can receive only 50 points.
Project feasibility measures the adequacy of the design and engineering of the project. For line and system projects, feasibility is a threshold for approval as determined by the Department of Environment and Conservation; no points are assigned, but the project must be determined to be feasible. Livability and housing projects may receive up to 50 points for feasibility.
Project impact is a benefit/cost measure and compares the number of people being served and the amount of money being requested. Line and system projects can earn up to 100 points in project impact, while livability and housing projects can earn only 50. For the 2012 application round, 10 additional points in the project impact category are available if the application shows that the proposed project affects the community's economic development.
Project essentialness is used only in community livability projects in order to ensure that the those projects related to health and safety receive the greatest opportunity for funding. A maximum of 50 points is available in essentialness.
Projects are reviewed and scored based on the evaluation criteria and are arranged from highest to lowest based on the total number of points earned. Project approvals are based on these rankings.
It does not matter that some categories are eligible for more points than others, since the competition is within categories rather than among categories.
The governor's set-aside is reserved for projects for which there is an exceptionally high project need, but for other reasons (perhaps low unemployment and high income) did not rank high enough to be funded. If the governor's set-aside is not used, the $1 million is transferred to other project categories.