By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority, a quasi-independent governing agency operating autonomously of the Common Council, could face changes in one of its two loan programs aimed at bolstering economic development.

Dave Carlson, executive director of the CDA, discussed possible changes to the federally funded community development block grant (CDBG) program with board members at an Aug. 23 meeting.

“Frankly, it will change the way we do business,” Carlson told board members.

While the CDBG dollars have roots in Washington, D.C., the state funnels the money to municipalities. Agencies such as the Whitewater CDA have used the program for a revolving loan program.

The CDBG revolving loans have benefited local businesses gaining their footing in Whitewater.

“It’s going to be experiencing some changes,” Carlson said of the protocol surrounding the revolving loan funding. “We’re kind of in a transition period right now.”

As with any government program, state and federal officials have stipulations around the CDBG, and Carlson said Wisconsin municipalities have not always adhered to the protocol. For this reason, he said state officials are planning to take on the administrative tasks.

“It’s kind of complex,” Carlson said of the stipulations. “But I think we’ve done a good job of administering it.”

To his knowledge, Carlson said he does not believe the Whitewater CDA has erroneously used the CDBG revolving loan program.

Assuming all of the proposed changes move forward at the state level, Carlson said the early stages of the process would remain the same.

Business owners still will approach the CDA as the first line of communication, but processes from there will change as the agency works with state officials to secure and funnel the necessary dollars to the applicant.

The CDBG revolving loan program is one of two primary sources the CDA has mined to spur economic growth in Whitewater. The other is the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s capital catalyst program.

CDA members also discussed the agency’s 2019 operating budget, which is in the early stages of formation. Carlson told the board he would present a draft version at the CDA’s next meeting, slated for Sept. 20.

Carlson said there might be changes to next year’s budget compared to prior years.

“We will look and see if there are some reductions that can be made,” he said. “But I don’t foresee any major changes to the expense side.”

Board member Al Stanek, who has been a proponent of a possible plan aimed at preserving and revitalizing the city’s existing neighborhoods, said he hoped funding would be allocated toward the effort in next year’s budget.

In addition to possible funding next year, Carlson said an effort to bring together other governing and appointed bodies to more deeply discuss the neighborhood plan is moving forward.

The goal is to hold a joint meeting with members of the Common Council, Plan and Architectural Review Commission and CDA to hash over possible components of the plan.

“I think the reaction to (the joint meeting) has been fairly favorable, so we’ll look at putting that together,” Carlson said.

 
 

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