Modesto Has to Pay Back Money for Colossal Screw Up
Why does this matter to you?
Follow me here, the City of Modesto took the money from Community Development Block Grant funds. These are funds “given” (after having been taken from the tax payer – Ed) annually to communities based on government assessed “need” for social services. Naturally since Stanislaus County has a lot of need, it gets lots of funds, right? Well, not really. Because it’s not the percentage of a given population that needs help, its the ToTaL number of people. So most of the allocated funding goes to larger cities and metropolitan areas. There is a lot, and I mean a lot of money from the Feds for “serving the homeless.” So it’s a big deal to Cities and Communities.
Listen here to Plausibly Live – The Official Podcast of The Dave Bowman show, as Dave explains just why this was such a bad idea to begin with…
For as long as I have been here, they take the funds and divide them up between Agencies that provide services by an RFP Process (“Request for Proposal”-Ed) in which the Agencies look at the amounts available, then pad their RFP’s in an attempt to get the amount of money that they actually think that they need because they know that the requests will be cut by Staff because there isn’t enough money to go around. So instead of funding one or two really good projects the politically correct move is to partially fund as many projects as possible. Worthwhile projects get the short-shrift, while projects that either aren’t needed or or just duplication of services get partially funded to keep everybody happy and from going to the papers to complain. How do I know this? From 1991 to 2007 I did it annually, the last ten of those years here in Modesto.
At any rate, the City hit on this idea a few years ago of turning the old Social Security Building into a “One-Stop Shop” for Homeless Services, wrote their own version of an RFP for the money they thought it would cost to renovate the building, which, of course, was badly under estimated. Problem? Usually they would just funnel more money into the project but in this case, there wasn’t anymore.
And since the project wasn’t completed, mostly because it was a bad idea and actually undoable in the first place, the project was abandoned.
But now, the Feds want an accounting of the money and the City couldn’t show the project had been completed, was operating or – and this is the big one in CDBG money – that they were constantly increasing services year over year, because the project failed and never got off the ground. Why? I could spend hours on this, but at the end of the day, it was a bad idea at the time of which there were plenty of reasonable objections that were ignored or steamrolled into silence as the City reached into the pie and took what was a HUGE slice of the CDBG grant for the project. How bad of an idea was it? Not even the Federal Government will forgive the funds because they saw how bad of an idea it was. So now… it has to be repaid. (I’ll go a little deeper into the ideas flaws in the next podcast)
Problem? The City cannot use CDBG funds to repay it. So, the money has to come from the General Fund.
“Oh Dave,” they will say. It’s just a large drop in the bucket. which is the same argument they used for the Council raises under Measure M.
But think about this for a minute – the amount to be repaid because of this cock-up, would pay for the entire Councils salary for more than two years. Oh, and that’s YOUR taxes that are going to be used to repay this mistake. The vote will be 7-0 tonight simply because they really don’t have any other choice.
And exactly who is responsible for it? Who was held responsible and lost a promotion or a move up over this?