Paso Robles officials consider how to divvy up federal grant money

It’s the time of year again when Paso Robles city leaders must sift through applications from local organizations to decide how to dole out much-needed federal dollars into the community.

Groups that applied for the funding — estimated at nearly $168,000 — range from services aimed to help seniors, youth and the hungry. The city’s own infrastructure projects to help low-income areas are also in the mix.

There are rules attached to the money, requiring city leaders to divvy up the funds in specific ways between such expenditures as well as costs to administer the grant program.

Earlier this month, the City Council opted to give the maximum amount it can — $25,000 — to local service groups.

The council also wants to direct money to building sidewalks where none exist and constructing ramps and lighted crosswalks.

Ultimately, the council’s final decision on what groups and projects to fund will be made after a public discussion in February. Anyone in the application pool can still be considered at that point.

The 16 applications received add up to a collective need of $525,427 while funds available stand at almost a third of that sum.

The program saw similar difficulties last year when the city’s share was shaved after federal budget cutbacks, which officials say could also happen with the new batch of funding.

The grant money comes from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s administered by San Luis Obispo County before it trickles into local cities including Paso Robles.