Sidewalk improvements, youth services on budget for CDBG grants

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Community Development Program Manager Jaime Rebhan-Buckminster shared the progress of state grants helping Wareham fund several local organizations and services with Select Board members at its Tuesday evening meeting.

The state’s Community Development Block Grants provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to programs and services around Wareham, as they have for many years.

Of the activities and services funded for FY2020, approximately 30% of the activities budget is dedicated to the replacement of sidewalks at Bayview Park in Onset, according to plans submitted.

Other activity funds go to the housing rehabilitation program, public social services, program delivery and general administration costs, Rebhan-Buckminster said.

Among the funds for public services, organizations receiving funds include Christopher Donovan Day School, The Family Pantry at Damien’s Place, GATRA Transportation and Wareham Area Committee for the Homeless.

Some funds have been earmarked for the Boys and Girls Club, Rebhan-Buckminster said, but after it closes, she is looking for another service group for young people in need.

There were discussions among board members about the degree of control the board has over the reallocation of CDBG funds within budgeted programs. Member Jim Munise said he would appreciate the board being informed before any reallocations to planned budgets are made, such as in the case of the $40,000 that had been earmarked for the Boys and Girls Club.

City Administrator Derek Sullivan chimed in to say that if the city doesn’t use CDBG funds soon, it risks losing the grants in the future.

“It’s not an easy bureaucratic job,” Sullivan said.

Board member Peter Teitelbaum said that with budgeting in the time of Covid, members “just have to roll with the punches here”.

The city receives so much state funding, Rebhan-Buckminster said, because of the demand in the city.

“Wareham has a high, unfortunately, high need,” she said.

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