MAPA Board Letter Voices Budget Concerns

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During the March 30, 2017 MAPA Board of Directors meeting, board members voted to send letters to the Iowa and Nebraska Congressmen and Senators who are part of the congressional delegation which represents the communities MAPA serves, expressing their concerns regarding President Trump’s proposed budget for FY2018.   A key issue – several of the cuts target agencies and programs which fund community and economic development programs that are the backbone of MAPA’s work in this area.

Below is the text from the letter signed by MAPA Board Chair and Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders and MAPA Vice Chair and Pottawattamie County Supervisor Tom Hanafan.

“On behalf of the local governments in the five-county MAPA region, we write to share several concerns regarding President Trump’s FY2018 proposed budget released on March 16.  Many of the cuts proposed would reduce or eliminate programs that provide necessary tools for economic development in the Iowa and Nebraska cities and counties that MAPA serves.

Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs, which are included in those being targeted for cuts, are among the most effective federal programs for growing local economies. The Economic Development Administration (EDA), targeted for elimination, works directly with stakeholders to address the needs of depressed rural and urban communities. Together with local funds and private investments, EDA has helped communities and built partnerships to improve infrastructure, develop loan and financing programs, and train the workforce for high quality jobs.

These programs are the bread-and-butter sources for many of the great Community Development projects in our communities.  Some projects in the MAPA region that have been funded through CDBG and EDA include:

  • Infrastructure for economic development such as Novozymes in Blair and Grapel in La Vista
  • Water and sewer systems for cities like Walnut, Henderson and Macedonia
  • New Housing Rehab project in communities like Valley and Waterloo
  • Downtown Revitalization for historic main streets in Gretna and Walnut
  • Home repairs for elderly and disabled residents in Bellevue
  • New housing construction in Omaha by partnerships with groups like the Omaha Economic Development Corporation (OEDC), Habitat, Holy Name Housing and others.
  • MAPA staff who act as an extension of local staff in communities with limited personnel and resources

Also, the President’s budget would eliminate the TIGER competitive grant program and cut the New Starts funding that helps cities build new transit lines. Metro Transit received a $15 million TIGER grant for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line to connect employees and residents along Omaha’s densest corridor.  Regional transit planning is underway in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area and is supported by MAPA, the Greater Omaha Chamber and the Heartland 2050 Close the Gap Plan, and we hope to take advantage of these programs to extend transportation in the future.

We urge you respectfully to prioritize funding commitments for these programs so the economic development opportunities they provide are able to continue.”