With Fulton County deciding to relinquish its title as a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) entitlement community, the effect will be felt much more in the southern part of the county compared to the north, local officials said.
At its Dec. 18 recess meeting, the Fulton Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a resolution to have the county relinquish the entitlement title. This action would then prevent the county from receiving such federal grants from HUD, with county officials dispensing those funds to municipalities throughout the county.
However, according to Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, the smaller municipalities, primarily in south Fulton, which depend on Fulton for HUD grants, would no longer have the county dispersing those funds and could only then receive HUD funding by themselves applying for entitlement community status.
But Paul, who previously worked for HUD, said such action would present a big challenge for the smaller cities that are not registered as entitlement communities.
“The cities would have to verify that the organizations receiving the grants adhere to the federal guidelines for CDBG (Community Development Block Grants), and these cities may not want that exposure or liability,” he said.
Roswell Mayor Lori Henry said that city, like Sandy Springs, has been an entitlement community for several years. It processes the administrative paperwork internally to receive federal grants such as CDBG, so Henry said approval of the resolution will not affect her city at all.
“The cities that rely on the county to take care of those HUD requirements will now have to, themselves, become entitlement communities and apply for such status,” she said. “It is my understanding these non-entitlement municipalities that had relied on the county to process this funding would be given time to learn the process themselves.”
James Drinkard, assistant city administrator for Alpharetta, said the county’s decision will also not impact that city.
“The city of Alpharetta has not been able to utilize the grant programs from HUD because those programs are intended for projects that would benefit low- to moderate-income communities,” he said. MERGED GRAPHS “Here in Alpharetta, we have not really identified such programs that would serve those markets.”
Union City Mayor Vince Williams said the smaller municipalities on Fulton’s southern end will definitely be impacted negatively by the commission’s decision.
“I am very uncomfortable with the decision of the county commission, as this resolution was something that should have been discussed beforehand with all the cities affected by it,” he said.
“However, that has been the posture of the county commission, and what this will do is push the smaller cities into competition with other cities around the state, which would be an unfair advantage to us because the (Georgia) Department of Community Affairs would look at what city would need the funding the most.”
Williams said his needs in Union City may not be as great as the needs in some of the more rural areas of the state.
“But there would still be a need here in Union City for such funding as the necessary funds would not be in our city budget, so we could not, financially, take care of that need ourselves,” he said.
Palmetto Mayor Clark Boddie said the commission’s decision means “it is a question of north verses south” in a matter of fairness to both parts of the county.
“What I want to see is disparity between all the cities,” he said. “If you look at what has happened north verses south, there is disparity between the two regarding projects that need to be completed. Do I agree that there is different issues north verses south? Absolutely. But we got to see more people looking south. We are the fourth largest hospitality region in the state, and we are not receiving the funding we need and, I feel, deserve.”