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Project FAITH’s HELP Center update: More contract amendment requests likely

As predicted, the King Board of George Supervisors approved a grant application to the Department of Housing & Community Development last month to allow Project FAITH to ask for $700,000 in funding through the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG).
Applications for CDBG federal grant funding must be sought through the locality in which the proposed project is planned to be sited. The amount being requested in the grant application is up to $700,000 for construction of a 1,500 square-foot free clinic that would be a portion of the 32,000 square-foot building.

It was again a split vote, 3-2, as with all votes on the proposed HELP Center project by the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors who are committed to the project are Ruby Brabo, John LoBuglio and Cedell Brooks. Supervisors Dale Sisson, chairman, and Joe Grzeika have voted against it, saying they are against providing county resources to a private development and are not convinced of the viability of the project.

The first vote on the proposal was nearly a year ago, on May 1, 2012, when Supervisors voted 3-2 to give 5.53 acres in the county’s government center fronting on Route 3 (Kings Hwy) to Project FAITH upon a request by its executive director, Froncé Wardlaw.

Then the most recent vote on March 19 came a month after a similar vote, on Feb. 19. In February, the same majority had granted a five-month extension for Project FAITH because it could not meet contractual requirements with the county to have footings poured for the proposed construction project by Feb. 28.

The extension for commencement of construction, defined as footings pour, was amended to move it to Aug. 1, 2013, with the actual completion date for construction of the facility still set at Aug. 1, 2014.

But the dates both for starting and for finishing construction of the facility may be requested to be pushed again. That conclusion can be drawn by a review of the CDBG grant application package obtained from the county.

CDBG GRANT PROJECT TIMELINE
A timeline is included in the CDBG grant application for the funding toward the free clinic portion of the building. The key dates listed for pouring footings and for final completion don’t match up with the performance contract requirements.

Unless the process takes much less time than projected in the preliminary schedule, Project FAITH will be back requesting another amendment to the performance contract with the county, possibly for both the pouring of footings and for completion of construction.

The timeline indicates the following key dates:
Site Plan Submission – April 1, 2013 [A call to the Community Development Office as of this week, indicates a site plan has not yet been received, but that one is planned to be mailed perhaps later this week.]
Building Plan Submission – May 1, 2013
Permits Issued – May 30, 2013
Close on Financing – 45 days – May 31, 2013 – August 1, 2013
Notice to Proceed – Aug. 1, 2013
Footings – Sept. 27 – Oct. 17, 2013
~ Substantial Completion – July 31, 2014
Final Completion – Aug. 1, 2014 – Jan. 29, 2015

CDBG GRANT REQUEST RE FREE CLINIC
The application notes that the ‘hard-construction’ costs for the free clinic section would total $1,224,200.
The cost breakdown for construction of a 1,500 square-foot free clinic requested in the grant application is listed as follows:

$700,000 is listed as ‘pending’ from the CDBG requested grant funding.  
$261,200 is listed as the ‘in-kind’ contribution by the county. That amount is broken out to represent $221,200 as the value of the land given by the county last year. The remaining $40,000 is listed as in-kind staff time by the county Inspector, Engineer, Director of Finance, Purchasing Office and Economic Development Director.
$263,000 is listed as ‘Equity,’ to be paid by Project FAITH.

The entire HELP Center building is planned as a 32,000 square-foot building, including the free clinic portion. The rest of the planned facility is not eligible for CDGB funding because such funds cannot be used for construction help with any local- or state-operated facilities.

In a report she provided to the Board of Supervisors in February, Wardlaw noted that the estimated cost of the HELP Center was $8,401,000, with the bulk of it to come from a $4 million bank and tax credit sales estimated at $1,720,000.

The February report states, “All funding will be in place by June 2013 with the exception of the CDBG funding.” According to Nicole Thompson, Director or Economic Development, that funding is expected to be in place by September 2013, if the grant is approved.

PROPOSED SERVICE PROVIDERS
There are nine service providers proposed and listed in the CDBG application, with letters of intent to lease received from five, including Project FAITH.

The proposed providers are King George Free Clinic, King George Social Services,  Rappahannock Community College, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, New Horizons Café, State Probation and Parole, Empower House (formerly Rappahannock Domestic Violence Council), Fredericksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

But President Elizabeth Hinton Crowther of Rappahannock Community College has indicated to Supervisors that RCC is happy at its current county residence site at King George High School.

The five letters indicating intent to lease come from King George Free Clinic (Dave Coman, Executive Director), King George Social Services (Dave Coman, Director), Project FAITH (Froncé Wardlaw, Executive Director), Department of Corrections (Marcus Hodges, Regional Administrator, & Ronald Cavanaugh, Chief Probation and Parole Officer), Virginia Cooperative Extension (La Wanda Wright, Extension Agent-Unit Coordinator).

Project FAITH has received $1,424,340 in federal CDBG grants since 2003. A fact-sheet compiled by the county as part of the information available to the public lists the grants.
2003 - CDBG Planning Grant - $25,000 - Kings Highway.
2005 - CDBG Community Improvement Grant - $694,340 - Kings Highway Housing Production.
2008 - CDBG Planning Grant - $25,000 - HELP Center.
2010 - CDBG Community Improvement Grant - $680,000 - Angel Court Housing Production.

FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS
The Journal requested various documents from the county, including a list of Project FAITH’s board members, eligibility requirements for residents of its housing development(s), documents indicating income, liabilities, assets, real estate, bank accounts, employees, employee salaries, tax statements and board member disclosure forms.

The county’s response from Thompson provided a listing of board members and its tenant selection process for its housing, with an Angel Court operation plan.

Regarding the other documents, Thompson stated, “The county has never been required to collect the financial information you have requested. Therefore, we do not have any financial information on Project Faith.”

The only financial information available is that contained in Project FAITH’s 990EZ Internal Revenue Service filing for tax-exempt organizations. Such filings state on them that they are, “Open To Public Inspection.” Several of those can be accessed online by a browser search.

Phyllis Cook

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