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Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very happy holiday season, and a peaceful and prosperous new year!

From Everyone at Southern Iowa Council of Governments

Pictured from Left to Right: Kendra Comstock, Beth Waddle, Judy Brimm, Terry Niestadt, and Jeremy Rounds. Not Pictured: Jessica Hagen
Merry Christmas from our Executive Board
Pictured from Left to Right: Wayne Pantini, Doug Davidson, Doug Birt, Bill Trickey, Diane Fitch, Tom Lesan, Jerry Walker, Karen Zabel, Dan Christensen, Tom Leners, and Ron Riley. Not Pictured: Colby Holmes and Austin Taylor
Congratulations and thank you for all your years of service! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors!
 
Pictured Left to Right: Tom Lesan 2012 - 2022 Doug Birt 2019 - 2022 Ron Riley 2013 - 2022

Iowa Finance Authority Awards more than $11 million to Local Housing Trust Funds to Advance Housing Priorities

State Housing Trust Fund Grants to Assist 2,390 Families Maintain or Access Housing
 

    The Iowa Finance Authority Board of Directors today announced the award of a total of more than $11 million in grants to 26 Local Housing Trust Funds to support local housing initiatives. The grant awards are made available through the Local Housing Trust Fund program and are expected to assist 2,390 families.
 
    “The 2023 Local Housing Trust Fund awards represent the largest amount allocated through the program for local housing initiatives since the program’s inception,” said Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Debi Durham.
 
    The grant funds will be used for initiatives such as preserving aging housing stock, subsidizing local rental and down payment assistance programs, providing low-interest loans or grants to assist Iowans with home rehabilitation, financing construction of new single-family housing for low-income Iowans and supporting housing for persons with disabilities and homeless assistance programs.  
 
    The State Housing Trust Fund helps ensure decent, safe, and affordable housing for Iowans through two programs. The Local Housing Trust Fund Program receives at least 60 percent of the SHTF allocation to provide grants for organizations certified by the Iowa Finance Authority as a Local Housing Trust Fund.
 
    The remaining funding goes to the Project-Based Housing Program, which aids in the development of affordable single-family and multifamily housing. The Iowa Finance Authority administers both programs and provides technical assistance to housing-related organizations.

**Southern Iowa COG Housing Trust Fund- Adair, Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Madison, Ringgold, Taylor and Union Counties- was awarded $370,860.00. **
The following are deadlines for popular grants our members and associated organizations should consider. The SICOG due date is a date when the applicant should have all relevant information to SICOG to finish the application on time. SICOG has the staff and experience to assist our communities submitting the best possible applications for these funds. There are many other sources, so if you have project, please contact us.
Source/Program Funding Uses SICOG Due Date
FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Hazard mitigation plans and projects, including tornado safe rooms, building and utility retrofits, minor flood control projects, elevations and relocations of buildings in flood hazard areas and storm water management projects (Eligible: local governments and some nonprofits) Floating (NOIs as soon as possible)
Vacant State/Federal Building Fund (VSBF) Funds to demolish former State and federal buildings now held by local governments.  Funds will demolish vacant, under, and unused facilities.  Former schools are not eligible (Eligible: local governments) December 15
IDOT RISE Grant RISE funds roadway improvements to facilitate economic development projects, such as expanding businesses, industrial/commerce parks, etc. (Eligible: local governments) December 15
EPA Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grants Grant for solid waste projects that directly involve the increasing of use and success of recycling, landfill diversion, and related project.  Materials and waste streams within scope of this grant program include municipal solid waste, including plastics, organics, paper, metal, glass, and construction and demolition debris. This also includes the management pathways of source reduction, reuse, sending materials to material recovery facilities, composting, and industrial uses (e.g., rendering, anaerobic digestion), and feeding animals. (Eligible: local governments) December 15
Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program Grants to communities for the redevelopment, rehabilitation or deconstruction of buildings to stimulate economic growth or reinvestment in the community.  Strong applications will show the potential of catalytic economic growth in the community; improve appearances & safety; make use of underutilized property, exhibit appropriate design standards; and be well-funded (Eligible: local governments who apply on behalf of private property owners). December 30
CDBG Water and Sewer Program Water and wastewater capital improvements: plants, mains, lagoons, pumps, towers, etc. (Eligible: local governments) December 31 (next quarterly round)
IDNR Solid Waste Alternatives Program Program to encourage landfill alternatives – recycling, diversion, new technologies, new manufacturing processes, etc. (Eligible: local governments and certain nonprofits) December 31
IDNR Land and Water Conservation Fund Outdoor recreational facilities, campgrounds, playgrounds, open spaces, and wildlife areas (Eligible: local governments) January 15, 2023
Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership (RFHP) Large Grants will fund educational programming and outreach about challenges to public lakes, management activities, and fish habitat enhancement projects (Eligible: local governments) January 15, 2023
Paint Iowa Beautiful Award of donated paint for community projects, which can be about anything (Eligible: non-profits, local governments, community groups) January 15, 2023
IDNR Derelict Building Grant Grant to help fund the rehab or removal of derelict former commercial and industrial buildings; can include environmental studies, asbestos testing, environmental remediation, etc.  (Eligible: local governments with less than 5,000 population) January 15, 2023
FEMA Fire Grant – Assistance to Firefighters Grant Up to 95% grant funding for purchase of fire equipment, PPE, vehicles, training, and related activities (Eligible: fire departments and non-affiliated EMS agencies) January 15, 2023 (projected)
Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts (see article) A designation program designed to showcase and market creative spaces, cultural amenities, and entertainment options in a relatively compact area (Eligible: local governments) January 15, 2023
Iowa Great Places (see article) A designation program that also has a funding component for projects that occur in Iowa Great Places communities, which can be cities and counties.  The projects will be cultural and entertainment projects that attract tourists and create a greater sense of place (Eligible: local governments) January 15, 2023
IEDA Enhance Iowa Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) Grant Funds for capital projects, such as trails, libraries, community centers, pavilions, entertainment venues, museums, recreational facilities, and more (Eligible: local governments and certain nonprofits). March 1, 2023
CDBG Community Facilities and
Services
This annual competitive program offers grants to assist communities for a variety of projects including day care facilities, senior centers, vocational workshops and other community services such as storm water projects. (Eligible: local governments) Ongoing, until funds run out
Iowa Historic Preservation Tax Credits – small projects Up to 25% of project cost in the form of a State tax credit to offset the costs of the building rehabilitation or restoration. Project must affect a designated historic building on the National Register of Historic Places.  Projects can have eligible costs up to $750,000 (Eligible: property owners – governments can partner to mobilize the project). Ongoing
ITC/ IRDC "Power of Connection" Community Grant Program Grants up to $5,000 for capacity building, strategic planning, studies or assessments for a variety of community programs and issues (Eligibility: rural communities) Ongoing
Highway Safety Improvement Provides grants for low-cost, systematic safety improvements in the $10,000/mile range, focusing on lane departure crashes. (Eligible: local governments) Ongoing
Traffic Engineering Assistance
Program (TEAP)
Provides 100 hours of engineering assistance for operations and traffic safety issues. (Eligible: local governments) Ongoing
As always, SICOG provides this un-exhaustive list of grants to generate ideas about possible projects and provide funding guidance. Grant funding sources are increasingly interested in creative solutions to problems and many are willing to support not just construction but also operations.  If your community has a problem that outside funding might address, then please contact your SICOG office.  We would be glad to help and can attend a local meeting at no cost to discuss the project or idea.
Planner’s Desk – Incremental Development and Infill
 
     Strong Towns has an article called “4 Simple Things Your Town can do Right Now to Make Life Easier for Small Scale Developers” by Rachel Quednau (2018).  This article outlines some basic strategies any city or county can do to make it easier for small developers to incrementally develop a community.  The things are:
         1. Simplify the permitting process.  Concerns include the convoluted, expensive and lengthy permitting process that so many cities require for even something as simple as adding an extra bedroom to a home or building a patio in front of a restaurant. The process should include expediting and simplifying these processes so that they can be clearly followed — and don’t require a dictionary to understand. And if your city is still requiring paper copies of proposals, move it into the 21st century and put that process online.  Cities can also ensure that permitting occurs more smoothly by having all requests and questions go through one office.
         2. Reduce or waive fees for small projects with low impact.  For a small developer implementing a small project — say, converting a duplex into a triplex — the impact fees involved can be utterly cost-prohibitive.  Infill projects that do not require new streets, new sewers, and new streetlights, the process should be very simple and quick.
         3. Eliminate requirements like minimum lot sizes, parking, floor area ratios and open spaces.  These sorts of requirements drastically limit the ability of a developer to do simple things like add a small unit onto an existing home or build a second story onto a one-floor commercial space. Most of these requirements stem from imagined concerns about over-crowding. In reality, the majority of neighborhoods will not suffer or even look much different if every house is no longer required to have a large front lawn and a two-car garage.
         4. Allow duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and accessory dwelling units in single-family zones by right.  Permitting the next increment of development — like a single family home becoming a duplex — is the simplest, most low-lift and high-return step we can take in growing our cities. These kinds of units provide more stability to families that otherwise no long need or cannot afford larger single-family homes.  Duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) can blend seamlessly in any single-family zone so any concerns about “neighborhood character” changing if these developments are allowed by right can be put to rest immediately.
Iowa Finance Authority Creates Iowa Homeowner Assistance Fund
 
     A new program has been created by the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) to assist homeowners in Iowa that have suffered in the COVID economy.  Income-eligible buyers (those up to 150% of the area median income) can apply for up to $25,000 in assistance with behind mortgage payments, taxes, lot rent, and other expanses. The application can be found at https://www.iowafinance.com/ihaf/.  SICOG has a package of documents that can be used to market the program to your community.  This is important because foreclosures force residents from your community and reduce taxable property values.  Stability is vital to a community, so it is important that local governments take action against foreclosures, and this is a low-cost way to do so.
Iowa Department of Management Training Videos
 
The Iowa Department of Management has issued training videos for county auditors at:     
for tax increment financing (TIF) and Finance and Valuation System Basics. 
The series of videos detail how to report financial data on these important topics.
Iowa Great Places Program
 
     The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs will open the program year 2023 Iowa Great Places application process.  This is a designation program with funds available for projects that increase tourism and a sense of place.  This program for neighborhoods, districts, communities and regions embraces "creative placemaking" to showcase local creative and cultural assets and build more livable communities and vibrant public places.
 

Benefits:
  • A 10-year designation for use in local and statewide promotional efforts.
  • Competitive funding opportunities for new and existing infrastructure projects that are included in a vision plan and supported by a mix of partners and strategies.
  • Access to ongoing professional development opportunities and technical assistance.
  • Statewide promotion from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the Iowa Arts Council.
 
Timeline:
Jan. 2: Application period opens
Jan. 11: Informational webinar at 10 a.m.
Register at: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_iN0NGP8iRr2ofnrheQBsQg
Feb. 17: Application deadline for re-designation
March 10: Application deadline for new designation
 

Contact Jeremy at SICOG for more assistance.
Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts
 
     Through this program, the State of Iowa designates well-identified, walkable, mixed-use, compact areas with a concentration of thriving cultural facilities and activities. Designation by the state is an achievement that honors a particular place as a cultural destination.  There is not direct funding with this program, but it opens greater opportunities to secure other competitive funding from the State.
 

Timeline:
Jan. 2: Application period opens
Jan. 18: Informational webinar at 10 a.m.
Register at:  https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2URLETLdTiG8mNndVwLqPg)
May 1: Deadline for applications
 

Contact Jeremy at SICOG for more assistance.
 
A general website to find out more about creative spaces funding is https://iowaculture.gov/creativeplaces

SICOG Executive Board Meeting of November 1, 2022 
 
Chairman Jerry Walker called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. at the SICOG office. The following members were present: Birt, Christensen, Davidson, Fitch, Holmes, Leners, Lesan, Riley, Walker and Zabel. 
 
Staff present: Waddle and Brimm.   
 
Guest present was Wayne Pantini, Southwestern Community College. 
 
Fitch made a motion to approve the agenda. Holmes seconded the motion, all ayes. Motion carried. 
 
Fitch made a motion to approve the minutes of the October 4, 2022 meeting.  Riley seconded the motion. Trickey abstained and all others voted aye.  Motion carried. 
 
Birt made a motion to approve the financial reports as presented for the month of October.  Lesan seconded the motion, all ayes.  Motion carried. 
 
Other items discussed included: grant report, contract income, legal, audit, IEDA, IFA, EDA, computer/software/IT upgrades, legislative update and miscellaneous.  
 
Leners made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 1:27 p.m.  Riley seconded the motion, all ayes.  Motion carried. 
  
Minutes Submitted by Brimm 

SICOG Closed Friday, December 23, 2022 in Observance of Christmas

SICOG Closed Monday, December 26, 2022 in Observance of Christmas

SICOG Closed at Noon Friday, December 30, 2022 in Observance of New Years

SICOG Closed Monday, January 2, 2023 in Observance of New Years

SICOG Executive Board Meetings- Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

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