RULE 213.00.10-001 - Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP)

RULE 213.00.10-001. Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP)

Who are the Department of Rural Services and the Arkansas Rural Development Commission?

The Department of Rural Services (DRS, formerly the Office of Rural Advocacy) is a state agency charged with assisting rural communities with a population of 20,000 and under. Established under Act 302 of 1991, the Department of Rural Services assists local agencies in rural areas with grant funds and technical assistance.

The Arkansas Rural Development Commission (ARDC) is a group of citizens from around rural Arkansas charged with overseeing the programs of the Department of Rural Services. The Governor appoints seven of the members, two are appointed by the Senate President Pro-Tem, and two are appointed by the Speaker of the House. Commissioners serve five-year terms and meet throughout the year to discuss rural issues that affect Arkansans.

The other focus of the agency is to provide funding for worthwhile projects in rural communities. The agency has administered the Rural Community Grant Program for several years, unfortunately many worthy projects remain unfunded due to budget constraints. Recognizing the need for additional resources the Department of Rural Services has begun working to build new partnerships with our sister state agencies and private sector companies. The Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP) is the result of one such partnership with the Arkansas Department of Economic Development.

Who is Eligible to Apply for Funds from the RSBGP?

In accordance with the State of Arkansas Five Year Plan for Arkansas Housing, Community and Economic Development Programs the following entities are eligible for funding under the Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP):

* Incorporated and unincorporated cities and towns in RURAL Arkansas with less than 3,000 people (verifiable by current US census information)

* Population must be at least 51% low to moderate income (LMI). A complete list of Arkansas community LMI percentages is available on the DRS website at www.arkansas.gov/drs.

* In keeping with our enabling legislation, a rural area is defined for the purpose of this program as "all the territory of the State of Arkansas that is not within the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the latest federal census or within such a city or town's neighboring urbanized areas.

For forms and instructions about determining LMI Eligibility for your area See Attachment 1-Determining and Documenting Benefit to Low and Moderate Income Families which has been extracted from the Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program (ACEDP) Guidelines administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Are There Other Eligibility Restrictions?

The Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP) is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program and administered for the State and our agency by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Cities not currently a party to one categorical grant and counties that are not currently a party to two categorical grants are eligible to apply under the program. Categorical grants include the Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program (ACEDP) and the Rural Services

Block Grant Program (RSBGP) administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Active grants in other Department of Rural Services and Arkansas Economic Development Commission programs are not considered in determining eligibility.

What Types of Projects Are Eligible?

In keeping with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission's 5-Year Consolidated Plan, applications for Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP) grant funds will be accepted for the following type projects (please contact the RSBGP Grants Coordinator to ensure that your project is eligible):

* New construction or renovation of community centers or multi-purpose use buildings for the betterment of the community

* New construction or renovation of fire stations

* Purchase of fire trucks, specialized life-saving equipment such as "jaws of life" and protective clothing worn by fire fighters

If you have a question about project eligibility please contact the RSBGP Coordinator at 1-888-7872527.

* Have an accredited asbestos inspector/management planner conduct a thorough inspection of the building according to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) guidelines, including sampling and laboratory analysis. Testing costs will depend on the size and design of the building and are the applicant's responsibility. For inspection information please contact:

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Air Division

Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint Branch

Phone: (501) 682-0718

E-mail: info@adeq.state.ar.us

Web: www.adeq.state.ar.us

* Sign a waiver releasing and holding harmless the Department of Rural Services, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and all employees of the two agencies of any liability, claims, judgments or action whatsoever as a result of allowing grant funds to be used in the renovation of a building containing asbestos.

* Establish adequate justification that the cost and time associated with renovating a building containing asbestos is more cost effective than renovating a building that does not contain asbestos or new construction. This justification must be provided as part of the application.

Each of the above items must be submitted with the application whenever building renovation or rehabilitation is proposed.

Will We Be Required To Have An Architect or Engineer?

Maybe!!! All projects exceeding $100,000 are required to have an architect. All projects exceeding $25,000 are required to have an engineer. Projects must comply with state plumbing and building code requirements.

How much funding is available?

Seven hundred thousand dollars ($700,000) is available for distribution under the Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP).

What is the Maximum Award?

Eligible projects may submit an application for up to $75,000.

Is There a Matching Requirement?

The RSBGP is a nine to one matching program. This requires that the applicant must be able to match its grant award with cash, in-kind labor, in-kind materials, or land at a rate of one dollar to every nine grant dollars (10%). Land used for matching purposes must be owned by the city or county applying. The value of all matching (including in-kind) must be documented by bank statements for cash, official cost estimates for in-kind materials and labor, or official appraisals for land. Official cost estimates for in-kind materials and professional labor should document what the material or professional labor would cost if it were not being donated. Community labor being donated is equal to $18.04 per hour. Official appraisals for land may be in the form of an appraisal from a certified appraiser or a copy of the property assessment from the county clerk.

Administrative Costs

Each community that receives the RSBGP is responsible for the administration of the grant. The recipient may work with their local Planning and Development District or hire an outside consultant. The fee that the consultant charges can be included in the community's request (this may be done as long as the total request does not exceed the amount for which a community is allowed to apply). The community may use other available funds to pay the administrative fee charged by the consultant. The fee will be a minimum of $2,000 with a maximum of 10% of the grant. The administrative consultant must be trained and approved by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

How Do We Apply?

The RSBGP application process requires that communities hold a public hearing and submit an application to be considered for grant funds. The process is as follows:

Public Hearing Requirement

Prior to application submission, applicants will need to hold a public hearing to document the need for the project. All public hearings should be publicized in the appropriate local media at least 7 calendar days before they are to be held, and the hearing should be conducted no later than 2 weeks prior to the application deadline.

Application Submission

Applicants must submit an original application and 1 complete copy of the application to the Department of Rural Services by the application deadline. Applications will be reviewed by the Department of Rural Services for completeness and the RSBGP Grant Review Committee will review eligibility and all complete and eligible applications. The grant review committee will formulate funding recommendations, which will be reviewed and approved by the full ARDC and the Governor's Grant Review Committee.

Selected Applications

Applications recommended for funding by the Department of Rural Services will be notified in writing and will work with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission throughout the remainder of the project. It is imperative that selected communities wait for instructions from AEDC before beginning any part of their project.

Successful applicants must first sign a grant agreement before any work is started or any purchases are made.

Selected communities run the risk of forfeiting their grant award for work done or purchases made toward their project before a grant agreement is executed. Please call 1-888-787 -2527 if you have any questions.

Unsuccessful Applications

Applications not recommended for funding by the Department of Rural Services will be notified in writing and will be encouraged to schedule a conference with the RSBGP Coordinator to discuss deficiencies and areas requiring or needing improvement if it is the applicants desire to apply the following year.

Department of Rural Services

RSBGP APPLICATION PROPOSAL GUIDELINES

General

Formal proposals must be developed and organized in compliance with the outline and guidelines set fourth in this document to be considered complete and eligible for consideration. Proposals not following all guidelines and in the outline order requested will be considered non-compliant and therefore ineligible for funding consideration. All questions regarding the Proposal Application Outline content and process should be made in writing to the RSBGP Coordinator at the address below.

General Formatting Information

Proposals should be:

* Typed in 12 point in one the following fonts: Times New Roman, Arial, Courier or Helvetica

* Single spaced on one side of 8 ½ X 11 paper

* Sections limited to the recommended page length

* Organized in the order requested in the outline.

Submission Information

One original and one copy of the proposal must be submitted to the address below by the proposal deadline. Failure to submit the appropriate number of copies will result in the proposal being non-compliant and therefore ineligible for funding consideration.

Mail proposals to:

Department of Rural Services

ATTN: RSBGP Coordinator

101 East Capitol, Suite 202

Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Phone: 1-888-787 -2527 (RURAL-AR)

Fax: 501-682-6014

Department of Rural Services

RSBGP APPLICATION PROPOSAL OUTLINE

Application Proposal Outline

I. Application Coversheet

All applicants must fill out the top part of the form, completing all blanks to be considered eligible for funding. Fire departments applying for funding must also complete the lower portion of the form to be considered eligible for funding.

II. RSBGP Applicant Contact Information

III. Project Summary-Brief Description of Project-1 page max.

The Project Summary should briefly describe the project. (Detail information should be included in the Project Narrative Section)

IV. Documentation of Public Support-1-10 pages

Documentation of public support may be a combination of any of the following not to exceed ten (10) pages:

* Letter of support from the community's state senator or representative

* Letter of support from community's congressional representative

* Letters from members of the public to be served by the project

* Petitions of support from citizens to be served by the project.

V. Project Narrative-1-5 pages

The project narrative should cover in detail the following items:

* Describe the project in detail

* Describe in detail the demographics of the population to be served

* Provide detailed information regarding the organizations and individuals involved in the project, their qualifications and past experience.

* Specify the community's long and short term goals for the project

VI. Needs Assessment-1-5 pages

The needs assessment is the most important section of the proposal and should contain the following:

* Provide a detailed history and description of the steps the community has taken to document the need for the project.

* Identify and describe any problems related to community health and safety, which the project would address.

* Describe any unmet needs currently being experienced by the community that would be alleviated through the fruition of this project.

* Describe any emergency situation, which you believe is relevant.

* (Fire Departments only) Describe and document impact of project on ISO rating.

* Explain the community involvement in the Arkansas Community of Excellence (ACE) Program.

* Identify existing community centers, multi-purpose facilities or fire stations for this area.

VII. Floor Plan of Proposed Project

* Provide a preliminary floor plan and site map of the proposed project including Front and Side elevations.

* Provide an 8 ½" X11" map of the county indicating location and service area

VIII. Required Forms and Documentation

Public Hearing Documentation

* Public hearings must be publicized at least 7 calendar days before they are held and conducted no later than 2 weeks prior to the application deadline.

* County applicants must hold the public hearing at the county seat.

1. Form RSBGP-1 Notice of Public Hearing and Proof/Certification of Posting:

* There is an example posting in the application that you are welcome to fill out and use as your Notice of Public Hearing.

* The Notice of Public Hearing must indicate that the purpose of the hearing is to allow public participation to determine the needs of the community, to consider applying to the Arkansas Department of Rural Services for funds which are targeted to benefit LMI families or to aid in the prevention of slum and blight or to eliminate and imminent health threat.

* Examples of publicity include publishing notices in newspapers, posting flyers in at least five visible locations or airing announcements on local radio or television stations. Regardless of the method, hearings must be advertised throughout the jurisdiction and must indicate that technical assistance for developing proposals will be provided to groups representing LMI persons.

* Proof of Posting must include a copy of the notice with either a written confirmation by the mayor or judge about where and when the notices were posted or a signed receipt/proof of publication.

2. Form RSBGP-2 Public Hearing Attendance Roster

3. Minutes from Public Meeting:

* Discuss the community's needs

* Identify and prioritize needs which are most crucial to the community.

* Discuss goals and objectives for meeting the community's needs, including time frames and potential financing resources.

* Inform the attendees about the RSBGP including requirements and funding objections, types of projects eligible for funding, amount of funds available to the community, and realistic opportunities for the community's participation in the program.

* It must be noted that the purposes of the RSBGP are as follows:

1. To benefit low and moderate income families; or

2. To aid in the prevention or elimination of slums and blight; or

3. To meet other community development needs having a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious threat to the health or welfare of the community and where other financial resources are not available to meet such needs.

* Persons addressing the meeting should be identified and comments recorded in the minutes.

Documentation of Eligibility and Application Approval Documents

* Form RSBGP-3 RSBGP Certification of Requirements Form

* Form RSBGP-4 Resolution

Proposed Project Budget and Disclosure Report

* Form RSBGP-5 Proposed RSBGP Project Budget

* Form RSBGP-6 RSBGP Disclosure Report

Additional Miscellaneous Forms

* Form RSBGP-7 Project Milestone Schedule

* Standard SF-424 Form Application for Federal Assistance

* (Fire Departments Only) ISO rating documentation

* Deed or Proof of Public Ownership

* Asbestos Study Documentation and Hold Harmless Waiver (if renovation project)

* Form RSBGP-8 Excessive Force Resolution

* Form RSBGP-9 Anti-Displacement Plan Resolution

* Form RSBGP-10 Proposed Beneficiaries Form

IX. Required Appendices

Appendix A

Appendix A must contain in order all cost estimate documentation as it appears in the budget. Estimates must be confirmed by a professional. Page one of the documentation should contain the reference A-1 and so forth.

Appendix B

Appendix B must contain in order the official documentation of the cash match availability, other funding sources and/or appraisal of the match property. Page one of the documentation should contain the reference B-1 and so forth.

Appendix A and B funding documentation should prove exactly how much your project will cost and that your community has the required matching funds to complete the project with RSBGP funds.

RSBGP Required Forms

Rural Services Block Grant Program (RSBGP)

Application Coversheet

RSBGP CONTACT INFORMATION

Form RSBGP-1

Notice of Public Hearing

Form RSBGP-2

Public Hearing Attendance Roster

Form RSBGP-3

RSBGP Certification of Requirements Form

Form RSBGP-4

Resolution

Form RSBGP-5

Instructions for Completion of Proposed RSBGP Project Budget

Form RSBGP-5

Proposed RSBGP Project Budget

Form RSBGP-6

Instructions for Completion of the RSBGP/CDBG Disclosure Report

Form RSBGP-6

RSBGP Disclosure Report

Form RSBGP-7

Project Milestone Schedule

Form Standard SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance

Form RSBGP-8

Form RSBGP-9

RSBGP-10

(9/20/2010)

The following state regulations pages link to this page.