State cuts may cancel neighborhood grants

Published May 26, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Expected legislative cuts are likely to eliminate some of the grants that for years have helped pay for quality-of-life neighborhood amenities, city officials say.

Known as Neighborhood Partnership Grants, they provide up to $25, 000 in matching funds, meaning applicants must demonstrate that they can match or exceed the funds requested for each project.

The projects can include such plans as adding play areas, lighting and park improvements.

"I don't think we're going to have neighborhood grants" for fiscal year 2007-08, City Council member John Bryan said. "I think council is pretty much in a position where grants would be the first things to go, rather than jobs."

The grants came out of the Neighborhood Partnership Program, which was created in 1993 in an effort to emphasize the city's commitment to neighborhood revitalization.

The city hands out about $1.8-million in grants annually for social programs, arts support, events and neighborhood projects. In December, the council approved $233, 679 in Neighborhood Partnership Grants.

City officials' concerns are based on expectations that next month's special legislative session will result in sharply reduced ad valorem tax revenues for cities.

"I would agree with the council member on that, " said Deputy Mayor David Metz, who also warned that social action funding is likely to be limited.

Fast Facts:

Recent improvements

Booker Creek Park: A $25, 000 partnership grant was awarded to the North Kenwood Neighborhood Association.

Thrill Hill: The Old Southeast Neighborhood Association used a $9, 460 grant to install casts of historical scenes on the railings of the bridge in the Old Southeast neighborhood.