It's the usual scenario in Orem.
As the city prepares to pass out the $1.3 million in community development block grant money, there's not enough to go around.More than $400,000 in requests had to be turned down, and nearly every request had to be pared.
That's pretty much par for the course. But this year, in addition, new ultraconservative councilmen Mike Thompson and Joseph Andersen are registering their philosophical dismay with the entire process.
Both councilmen have a problem with federal subsidies and programs that return tax dollars they believe ought not to be collected in the first place.
"I have no mixed feelings about this. I have very clear feelings," Andersen said. "I don't think it's the federal government's responsibility or even their right to fund these kinds of programs."
Andersen said if people did not assume the government would be picking up the tab, a lot more residents would help out in the spirit of true charity to support the worthy programs.
"These are good programs. I looked over the list, and there are some really good ones," Andersen said. "It would be ludicrous to say let's not take the funds any more until we found funds to replace them."
Andersen said keeping federal money on tap encourages and invites abuse. For instance, while funding for a hotel/convention center would provide jobs for low-income residents, he thinks it's unwise to do so in a community with virtually no unemployment.
Thompson intends to go ahead and support the funding options as outlined by the nine-member citizens advisory commission, but he'll miss the final public hearing and vote on March 10.
Andersen said he will vote against the recommendations as a matter of principle.
The rest of the council seems comfortable with the expenditures, which include $112,350 to public service activities such as funding for the Utah County Crisis Line, the Gathering Place, the Children's Justice Center and the Family Support and Treatment Center. Also, $1,195,268 will go toward items such as new playground equipment that meets the Americans With Disabilities Act standards.
Konrad Hildebrandt, director of federal programs for Orem, said this year a real effort was made to solicit grant requests from a wider variety of areas.
"We want to start weaning some of the ones we see year after year, encourage them to find funding from other avenues," Hildebrandt said. "We'd like these (funds) to serve as more of an initial kick-off than a regular source of income."
Some repeat customers of the community development block grant funds include the Parent Education Resource Center, the Recreation and Habilitation program and the Utah County Teens Against Graffiti program. All three were allocated an amount of money less than their request and less than last year's funded amount.
Some requests, like that from the Gathering Place, were much larger than the amount approved. The Gathering Place had asked for $60,000 and was recommended for only $10,000. The Children's Justice Center asked for $35,000 and is recommended to get just $9,000.
Mountainland Head Start asked for $58,321 and will get $5,000.
A few, like Kids on the Move early intervention program, got more than last year but less than requested.
Kids on the Move asked for $20,000 and will be allocated $14,000. Last year it received $10,000.
The Community Action Agency asked for $15,000 and is recommended to receive $14,000 - $4,000 more than it received last year.
Orem Junior High asked for $71,690 for a low income park to be shared with the school and the neighborhood. It is recommended to receive $40,000.
Mountainland Association of Governments asked for $200,000 to help build its new $1 million administration building but is recommended for only $50,000.
"This is a tri-county association," Hildebrandt explained. "They felt Orem's share should be the $200,000, but we didn't feel that way."
At the same time, the commission recommended that an amount of $210,000 be reallocated to remain in a fund to pay off a federal loan for building a conference and convention center in Orem. Hil-de-brandt said that isn't new money but money being held until the center is built and the loan used.
He said $219,650 allocated to putting in curb, gutter and sidewalks designed for handicapped access represents an emphasis this year of bringing the city into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. That money, along with $88,000 for special playground equipment, represents more than a $300,000 commitment.
Overall, Hildebrandt said the community development block grant funding is down about 6 percent in "new money" but up overall because some funds are carried over from year to year.
The City Council was generally pleased with the recommendations, and most of those bidding for the funds understand there's a limited amount to go around, he said.
"They didn't talk about changing amounts. They just basically accepted the recommendations," he said. "It was all pretty positive."