A presentation to Pflugerville City Council on Dec. 12 indicated the city has not used a majority of the federal funding received for community development.

The current situation

Approximately only 1% of federal funding was utilized from the city’s community development program. An update to city council revealed that of the $243,926 made available for fiscal year 2022-23, only $2,632 was doled out.

Annually, the city of Pflugerville receives grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money is intended to support affordable housing, suitable living environments and expand economic opportunities, according to city documents.

Planning & Development Services Director Jeremy Frazzell noted the city had a relatively small population of low- to moderate-income residents compared to the majority of other communities receiving the same funding.

There are 3,532 households that are considered within the low- to moderate-income ranges, according to the Community Development Block Grant 2023 annual action plan. This constitutes 20% of the overall community.

“It was challenging to meet all of the requirements. ... It's tough to meet the low- [to moderate-] income requirements,” Frazzell said. “We actually had a meeting today with our head rep [at the Department of Housing and Urban Development], and we have been asking some questions of where are we at on timing of funds and can we still expend funds?’”

The Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation report presented to council outlined how the department had planned to used the allotted federal funds throughout the past year:
  • Streetlight improvements
  • Youth recreation scholarship program
  • Workforce development
  • Utility payments (water, wastewater and trash)
To date, no money has been spent on streetlight improvements. However, the department is currently in negotiations with Oncor to begin improvements for Windermere and Skyview Manor neighborhoods.

Of the 16 applicants who qualified for the youth recreation scholarship program, only seven individuals took advantage, totaling $715 for activities such as the Pflugerville Summer Pfun Camp and swim lessons.

No dollars were expended on workforce development.

The community development department was not able to use funds planned for workforce training as Workforce Solutions, the city's partner, already had other funding available and there were additional limitations for how the CDBG funding could be spent, according to the report.

Frazzell told Community Impact that CDBG funds could be spent on workforce training, as well as related child care or transportation needs, but the money could not be used to purchase tools or items necessary for certain industry work.

The city also provided financial assistance for three Pflugerville residents’ utility bills, amounting to $1,223. The city's utility assistance funding comes from the federal CARES Act in addition to the CDBG.

What they’re saying

Council members raised questions regarding the implementation and advertising of available funds for community members.

Place 1 council member Doug Weiss inferred that if the program only targeted people already interested in workforce development opportunities or youth scholarships, then the city was providing a “limited scope.”

“Is there something we can do to reach out to people who may have already written off the opportunity because they didn't think they could afford it?” Weiss said. “If they're not even looking into it, they're not going to know [about financial assistance opportunities].”

Place 5 council member Jim McDonald discussed concerns for the application process.

“Is the application process itself a barrier? In other words, do [applicants] have to prove income deficiency with three years of tax returns and an audit?” McDonald said. “What are the requirements for the application? And do you feel like that in and of itself is a barrier? Is there a way to streamline that?”

What to expect

Frazzell noted that the city is currently in talks with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to see if the funding can be rolled into FY 2023-24 for new projects not previously approved. He noted the city may have to submit an amendment in order to use the funding in this way going forward. However, the remaining funding from FY 2022-23 currently will be reallocated to the streetlight improvement program.

In collaboration with the parks department, the recreation scholarship program has been expanded from not only youth programs but also to seniors age 62 and older. Eligible programs include the recreation center's chair yoga exclusively for seniors.

Additionally, the city is working to start construction on infrastructure needed to support the streetlights program, with a goal to spend the funds by June. City staff is currently partnering with Oncor on design plans.

The city will be responsible for constructing the base and conduit for light structures, while Oncor will handle the wiring and construct the actual light structures, Frazzell said.

Plans for expending the remaining funds include a targeted marketing campaign and social media push by the city's communication department.

The city of Pflugerville will receive another $291,642 Community Development Block Grant for FY 2023-24.

Visit the community development website for more information on available opportunities.

"If it was a simple answer, then we'd have too many people signed up," McDonald told Community Impact. "I know that the staff and the city are doing everything they can in terms of outreach."