Joplin is set to spend another $23 million of federal grant money for tornado zone repairs.
The city on Monday received authorization from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to proceed with two lists of projects that are to be funded from a $113 million Community Development Block Grant for disaster recovery.
Patty Heagal, the city's CDBG project manager, told the Joplin City Council at its meeting on Monday night that HUD had conveyed to the city its approval to proceed with two rounds of spending for projects.
One of those rounds totals more than $13.7 million and includes:
• $3.2 million for the construction of Mercy Park on land donated to the city by Mercy of Joplin at 26th Street and McClelland Boulevard, across from Cunningham Park.
• $6.5 million for some of the street repairs needed in the tornado zone.
• $2 million worth of the sanitary sewer repairs that will be needed.
• $2.04 million in planning and administration costs.
Another round also approved amounts to more than $9 million in the following allocations:
• $555,000 for a Crosslines Community warehouse to distribute food and clothing to those in need.
• $5 million for an Early Childhood Center at Joplin schools, a project that is in discussion between the city and school district but not yet approved by the council.
• $2.5 million for further design and construction of sanitary sewer repairs.
• $1 million for more street repairs.
The money must be spent within two years of Monday's HUD approval. The city has already spent $8 million from the $113 million grant.
Heagal on Monday asked the council to authorize a contract for more than $2.97 million for consultant Deloitte and Touche to oversee the expenditures to see that all HUD regulations are are followed. If the city or its contractors make an error, HUD could require the city to repay the cost of a project.
Heagal, asked by the Globe how much money is allowed by federal regulations to be spent on auditing and administration oversight, said that up to 5 percent of a grant can be spent for administration, whether that is on city staff or on outside consultants like Deloitte and Touche. Up to another 15 percent can be spent for administration and oversight of project planning, "and we are below both of those right now," Heagal said.
Nick Heatherly, the city's public works director, asked by the Globe the significance of Monday's HUD approval, said the first $8 million of the CDBG money went mainly for engineer work to scope out what needs to be done toward some of the sewer and street repairs. "The money that is in this round, the money for sewer and what we call surface elements (such as) sidewalks, curb and gutter and sidewalks, now we've actually got money to do that work as well."
The council also approved three contracts related to tornado zone repairs.
One is $1.296 million with Sprouls Construction for sewer, street and sidewalk repairs at 15th Street and Highview Avenue.
Another is $434,099 with Emery Sapp & Sons to build sidewalk on one side of 26th Street east from Connecticut Avenue to Arizona Avenue and south to 32nd Street. The contract also calls for street overlay paving.
A third contract is for $356,607 with Hunter Chase & Associates is for the repair of sidewalks, disability ramps and curb and gutter in various locations within the tornado zone.
A contract to rebuild two stormwater drainage systems also was approved. The projects at 28th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and Even Avenue at Country Club Road will cost more than $1.105 million and will be paid for out of a special $14 million allocation granted by the state to cover repairs that could not be covered by the city's CDBG grant, said city engineer Dan Johnson. CDBG money can be used only in low- to moderate-income neigborhoods.
The council also approved the sale of $8.2 million in industrial revenue bonds for the construction of a warehouse to be leased by Cott Beverage Corp. The bonds went up for auction on Monday and were purchased by Cott at 6 percent interest to fund the project, according to Leslie Haase, the city's finance director.
Councilman Bill Scearce questioned why the bond agreement allows the purchase of the construction materials without paying city sales tax.
Troy Bolander, the city's community development director, said that state and federal laws exempt the projects from sales taxes.
The vote to approve the bond issue was eight in favor, with Councilman Morris Glaze abstaining, citing a financial interest he has in Cott.
A contract with Allgeier Martin & Associates to design repair work to sewage lines in the area of Joe Becker Stadium was approved by the council. The cost is $70,000. Troy Bolander, community development director, said it is the first of $356,000 in work the city intends to do in the area of the stadium, which is being rebuilt as the home starting next year of the Joplin Blasters professional baseball team.