The Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) Board of Directors met Thursday in the Trinity Community Center in Trinity.
Although the board received reports on the recent series of transportation planning hearings and the scoring of 2007 Solid Waste Grants, the effort to secure funding for the first round of Hurricane Rita relief for non-housing infrastructure took center stage.
Of the initial 74.5 million dollars in federal Hurricane Rita relief funds received by Texas, 19 million dollars in community development block grants were designated for housing and infrastructure needs in the DETCOG counties.
At its July board meeting the Texas Department of Housings and Community Affairs (TDHCA) approved DETCOG's application for 6.7 million dollars in housing funds, but delayed approval on the funds for repair or replacement of community infrastructure until their upcoming August meeting.
DETCOG Executive Director, Walter Diggles, told the board he was notified Wednesday of changes in the guidelines for what type of infrastructure items would, and would not be, funded. That notification sent DETCOG staff scrambling to review and refine its recommendations for funding for its counties and cities.
In preparing for the TDHCA Board Meeting, the DETCOG Board adopted a resolution urging TDHCA and the Office of Rural Community Affairs to approve the method of allocating DETCOG infrastructure funds in the amounts and purposes allocated in the DETCOG action plan. Despite the delays and rigorous nature of the process, Diggles told the board it was important that it be defined in this round of funding because of the recently announced $428.6 million in additional federal funds becoming available. He said that relaxed rules could allow cities and counties outside the declared disaster area to more easily qualify for the next round of funding.