published Monday, December 10th, 2012

Bradley County's Healthy Community Initiative grants deadline near

Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins, chairman of the redistricting committee
Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins, chairman of the redistricting committee

TO LEARN MORE

Visit www.bradleyco.net/hci.aspx for letters of intent forms and for more information regarding the HCI program. Letters of intent must be received by 3 p.m. Friday.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Friday is the deadline to apply for a 2012 grant from Bradley County's Healthy Community Initiative, a program supporting efforts to improve residents' health care and quality of life.

The Bradley County Commission is expected to determine the program's general fund balance in its Dec. 17 voting session.

Commissioners and HCI committee members have grappled with whether to boost the $70,000 balance with $35,000 previously allocated to the Public Water Fund, which helps residents pay for water access if their wells or other water sources fail.

The $35,000 transfer would leave about $20,000 in the Public Water Fund for clean water grants.

"I think we should not allocate the full $35,000 to the general fund," Commissioner Ed Elkins, chairman the Finance Committee, said last week. "Whatever we leave for clean water grants has to last us until next year."

Elkins and Commissioner Mel Griffith were on the losing side of the 3-2 Finance Committee recommendation. Elkins said he would like to limit the transfer to $15,000.

The Public Water fund is a powerful tool that leverages its funding power, Elkins said. Approved projects receive 50 percent funding from Cleveland Utilities, so homeowners only have to pay 25 percent of the total cost.

Other commissioners have worried that money sitting unused in the Public Water Fund better could be spent providing other services.

"It's not the intent that these funds should go unused," said Commissioner Adam Lowe in a recent meeting. Lowe, also on the Finance Committee, voted for the $35,000 increase.

Lowe also has worried that the application process may have been "stifled" because the amount of grant funding won't be known until after the application deadline.

HCI is funded by interest generated from the sale of Bradley Memorial Hospital in 2005 and has assisted a variety of projects since its creation in 2008. Grants have been used for improving parks and schools and for providing equipment for health care and emergency services.

In the future, Elkins said, he would like the program to have a comprehensive review, possibly as a way to ensure consistent allocations from year to year.

Officials expect to review grant applications in January.

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