Fulton County will no longer be known as an entitlement community as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“HUD had sent us a notification that the county was not in compliance with its guidelines as an entitlement community, and they were going to be looking at reducing our entitlement community allotment as a result,” said District 2 Fulton Commissioner Bob Ellis.
Ellis introduced a resolution that would mean the county, by choice, would not be eligible to receive HUD grants such as Community Development Block Grants, Emergency Solutions Grants and HOME Investment Partnership Grants for its municipalities. It was approved by a 4-3 vote at the Fulton Board of Commissioners’ Dec. 18 recess meeting at Assembly Hall in downtown Atlanta.
Commissioners Ellis, Lee Morris, Robb Pitts and Liz Hausmann voted yes and Commissioners Joe Carn, Natalie Hall and Marvin Arrington Jr. dissented.
The resolution’s passage means municipalities within the county would be responsible for obtaining their own grants and would not be able to rely on the county for such grant funding as an entitlement community.
“We have been increasingly ineffective over the years in administrating these grants,” Ellis said. We have under-spent the federal funding allocation and were not able to get projects up and going for the last five to six years.
“Recently we had two projects which were being slated for federal CDBG funding for two of our municipalities, but there were some administrative problems with this fund allocation in the county that resulted in the federal funding not being received because of these administrative errors.”
As a result, Ellis said, these projects ended up being funded by the county and not the federal government, “and there were pretty big administrative errors as it cost the county something like a million dollars between the two projects.”
According to Morris, the county has had tremendous problems “as we did with the city of Atlanta when I was there years ago, with spending the federal grant funds properly without having to return those funds back to the federal government.”
“It is unfortunate that the rules and red tap are so complex that jurisdictions often have problems spending it properly, which was one of the issues that led me to support Commissioner Ellis’ resolution,” he said.
However, Morris said, Atlanta and the other municipalities within the county can get the grant money themselves, “so we were, as an entitlement community, really providing a service to a small portion of the county.”