A close to $1 million Roseboro community revitalization project, yet another step in the town’s reemergence, could hit a snag if a request by the town for county funding assistance is not championed.
On Monday, Roseboro mayor Roland Hall, on behalf of the town, requested the county help contribute matching funds for a project he said would “greatly enhance the quality of life for our citizens, Sampson County and the town of Roseboro.”
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project would fund comprehensive sewer, street, drainage and housing improvements in the Douglas Avenue area.
There are a dozen homes that would be repaired or rebuilt as part of the project, to go along with the street improvements and the addition of gravity sewer and a pump station, to be located near Douglas Avenue and West Railroad Street.
The town was awarded $850,000 in 2008 CDBG funding and the local match is $85,000 for the $935,000 project. That $85,000 pro-rata share would consist of $55,000 in the first year — $26,400 from the county, $28,600 from Roseboro — and $30,000 in the second — $14,400 for the county, $15,600 for Roseboro.
Because a portion of the area to be served falls within the county, the town requested the county contribute a portion of the project match. The project is essentially split in the middle by the town line, with 52 percent in Roseboro, 48 percent in the county. Consultant Floyd Adams, with The Adams Company, computed the pro-rata shares and the breakdown of expenses to the county.
The requested amounts of $26,400 and $14,400 from the county would be funded in 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively.
Roseboro was notified that the project had been approved in April 2010. Last month, Hall sent a letter requesting commissioners consider assisting with the local match. The issue was previously discussed — and tabled — at the Board of Commissioners’ planning session in February. On Monday, the board voted to discuss the matter further during budget deliberations.
“We’ve been partners for a long time,” said Hall. “The town of Roseboro is engaged in downtown revitalization. By the end of the year, that will bring 25 full-time and 40 part-time jobs to the town. This is helping the tax base and helping Roseboro to grow.”
The CDBG project is another step in a positive direction, Hall said. The grant was applied for twice before, with the town being turned down each time. The third time was a success, and the grant could serve to benefit a “blighted area” in the western portion of the town, the mayor noted.
Commissioner Albert Kirby asked what was in it for the county.
“If the county spends a pro-rata share, it comes out of the county’s coffers,” Kirby said. “The town will be getting a specific return.”
“There are houses that are severely in need of repair,” Hall answered. “Some will be renovated, some will be torn down. The valuation on the property being renovated is where the county will see its return.”
Commissioner Jarvis McLamb said the timing of the request, during a tight budget, was poor.
McLamb expressed similar dissatisfaction during the board planning session in February, citing the town’s action to cease paying their $26,500 contribution for parks and recreation programming. At that time, McLamb said he could not support the grant match request until the town does better.
“This is the wrong time to be doing revitalization,” McLamb said Monday. “I think this is the wrong time to be doing something like that, not if we have to lay off one person to do it.”
“I agree,” Hall said. “What Roseboro is doing to revitalize downtown and the community is coming at the worst time. But at the time when the town could have done other things, we found matching money for Western District Park. We found the need. We’re hoping you will find the need for this.”
Hall said the project, if the needed match can be provided, will help a community that desperately needs it, while boosting property values, adding paying sewer customers and helping the tax base for both the town and county.
“We’re not asking you to make a decision tonight,” the mayor continued. “There are a lot of houses along Douglas Avenue that need help. They are not served with sewer. This will help the town and this will help the county.”
Commissioner Billy Lockamy made a motion to consider the request during budget deliberations later this month. Several moments passed before McLamb seconded the motion to consider.
“I second it. We can consider it ... ,” said McLamb, before trailing off.
Kirby followed suit. Commissioner John Blanton was not in attendance.
The board must adopt its 2011-12 budget by the end of the month.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 121, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.