Oxford village awards CDBG funds to Oxford/Orion FISH

Extra funds to go to asbestos removal

By Megan Kelley
Staff Writer
OXFORD – Oxford’s village council held its annual public hearing to consider organizations for the 2024 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), awarding $3,500 to Oxford/Orion FISH with plans to use the leftover funds for asbestos removal at village offices.
“Our overall award is going to be $10,671, approximately. Of that $10,671, we are allowed to set 15% aside for a public service project, only one. That amount does not equal $3,500 but because we are a non-threshold community, CDBG will allow us to hit that $3,500 (mark) and just subtract that from the $10,671, which will leave us with about $7,171 for another project and those projects are different from public service,” said village Clerk and Treasurer Tere Onica.
Each year, municipalities receive funding from Oakland County from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“The program strengthens neighborhoods by supporting local revitalization, home improvement and public services for senior citizens, low-income persons and families, disadvantaged youth, and disabled residents throughout most of Oakland County,” states the Oakland County website.
Three organizations were interested in receiving the $3,500 portion of the grant, including the Oxford-based Love INC, food bank Oxford/Orion FISH, and Pontiac-based women’s shelter HAVEN.
According to Onica, the grant has been awarded to Love INC the past several years with Oxford/Orion FISH opting out of receiving funding, especially during the pandemic because they were receiving so much local support.
While the council recognized that all organizations were worthy of the grant, only one can receive it, and ultimately, the council decided to go with Oxford/Orion FISH.
“That’s where I struggle with this because all three are really good causes. I will say, I know FISH could really use the help. There are a lot of food needs, especially this time during the year,” said Councilmember Jacob Nicosia. “My vote would probably go to FISH at this point just because of what I know and the conversation’s I’ve had with folks in the village about it. But with that being said, every other organization on here is fantastic and I don’t think we can go wrong with this decision.”
Additionally, with the extra funding, the village identified several projects that the money could be used for including asbestos removal, removal of architectural barriers and clearance and demolition at Village Hall.
Earlier in the meeting, the council discussed a rather large upcoming project in resurfacing the parking lot at village offices. With that project in mind, Councilmember Maureen Helmuth questioned if the $7,171 could potentially go to that. However, because of the guidelines for the grant, the only thing that the money could be used for in the parking lot would be handicap striping and painting.
Council approved the grant award to FISH and the asbestos public service project by a vote of 4-0. Councilmember Lori Bourgeau was absent from the meeting.

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