By Stan Welch
Jill Francisco, a grant specialist with the Appalachian Council of Government, met with the various interested parties, to consider what she called a “little hiccup” in the process to get a $60,000 federal grant to finance Pelzer’s Master Plan.
The little hiccup was a decision by officials of the Appalachian Regional Council, source of the grant, to require Pelzer to make a fifty/fifty match for the funds, instead of a twenty/eighty match. The difference means that Pelzer needs to provide thirty thousand dollars to get thirty thousand dollars, instead of providing twelve thousand to get forty eight thousand.
On hand to see what could be done to cure the hiccups were Mayor Steve McGregor, Gail Jeter, a consultant who has worked with Pelzer for several years on pursuing various grants, Francisco, Larry Coker and Dianne Lollis of the Pelzer Heritage Commission, County Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and several members of the county staff, and state Representative Anne Thayer, along with several citizens.
Francisco did bring good news, informing the group that the ARC was cognizant of the fact that the change in the match requirement came after the new administration took office. “ Frankly, the ARC has been fighting for their own budget lives, and they have had to make some hard decisions. They aren’t happy about all of those decisions, including this one. They realize this was out of the blue, so they have made it plain that they will be very receptive of the proffer of in kind services to make up the shortfall. But it has to be a reasonable amount, so we need to find as much cash as we can.”
She also assured the group that the sixty thousand dollars had been allocated in the last funding cycle, and was not at risk. “The money is there. It won’t go away, so we have some time to figure this out. I suggest that you revise your application, asking for the thirty thousand dollars instead of the forty eight thousand, and then we can get to work finding the match,” she said.
Councilwoman Wilson suggested that ACOG itself might be able to provide a good bit of demographic information to include in the study. That led planning director Michael Forman to offer to provide a significant amount of technical information from the county, such as GIS mapping and other information. “We should be able to make up approximately eleven thousand in in kind services.”
The Friends of Pelzer have already pledged $2000 in cash; Palmetto Business Association, $2500; the Town of Pelzer, $12,000; and the Pelzer Heritage Trust, $2000. That amounted to $18,500 in cash. Gail Jeter pledged $6000 in in kind services, and West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders pointed out that previous work done on the Pelzer/West Pelzer Main Street Master Plan should account for an additional five thousand in in kind services.
Steve Newton, of Anderson County, suggested issuing a request for qualifications to find the best firm to do the study, and then negotiate with them, based on the in kind services available to see if, and how much, they might reduce their bid. Francisco assured the group that any savings resulting would be shared equally by ARC and the town.