Falling population threatens funding
The city will receive $1.8 million in federal funding for 2003.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The city's plummeting population is jeopardizing the amount of federal funding it receives.
The 2000 census placed the city's population at 46,832, down from 1990 figures of more than 50,000.
"We'll know when the official census comes out," said David J. Robison, director of the city's community development department.
He said census figures are expected to be finalized in mid-to-late 2003. If a population figure below 50,000 is finalized, the city could lose its status as an entitlement community.
"We could get grandfathered," Robison said, which would make the city immune from the population requirement and lengthen the time it keeps entitlement status.
Steubenville maintained its status through grandfathering, but such action requires U.S. Congressional approval.
Recipients of Community Development Block Grant entitlement funds include local governments with 50,000 or more residents, other local governments designated as central cities of metropolitan areas, and urban counties with populations of at least 200,000, says the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Web site.
If Warren loses entitlement status, it would change the way CDBG money is allocated.
Alan Knapp, assistant director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission, said that if that happens, the county may try to join with the city and seek urban county status through HUD.
The county now gets its CDBG money through the Ohio Department of Development, making it one of the largest in the state to do so.
Counties with populations of 200,000 or more, excluding the population of entitlement cities, get the money through HUD. Excluding Warren's population, the county's number is about 179,000. If the city were included, it would bump the population up to the required mark.
But Knapp said there haven't been discussions with the city about doing that.
The county distributes money to all of the townships, villages and the cities of Hubbard and Cortland. Niles and Girard, the county's second and third largest cities, also get their block grant money through the Ohio Department of Development.
The city's 2003 CDBG allocation totals more than $1.78 million. City council this week approved distribution of the money to 33 projects including street resurfacing and reconstruction and social service organizations.
Projects using CDBG money are to primarily benefit low- to moderate-income people and the program has been used as a "catalyst for economic development activities that expand job and business opportunities for lower income persons and neighborhoods," the HUD Web site says.
Councilman Daniel E. Polivka, D-at large, chairman of council's community development committee, said he's been hearing for years of the possibility of losing entitlement status.
"I'm hoping and praying that it doesn't happen because it certainly would hurt our city," he said.
If it does, Polivka said he'd lobby U.S. Congressman-elect Timothy J. Ryan to get Congress to lower the requirement to 45,000.
"There are some cities, like us, that really need the money," he said.