I am disappointed to read of the York County Council’s vote not to join the regional consortium that would lead to receiving federal grant money intended to help housing communities in western York County. The council’s decision is obviously politically driven by an ideology that accepting federal grant money somehow taints the county.
This is a misplaced and false ideology, as the county has participated in these consortiums and grant opportunities for years with no repercussion to the county. The council routinely votes to accept requests for federal and state grants made by law enforcement, criminal justice and other departments for county needs.
What I find curious is the council representatives of the western part of the county are always complaining that they never get a fair share of the county’s revenue stream to help with their constituents’ needs, but when federal revenues become available, they turn them down. So, in their way of thinking, it is OK to tax citizens locally but not OK to accept federal revenues, part of which local taxpayers have paid? Strange!
The end result of the council’s misguided decision does have financial repercussions to others. The outcome is the cities of York and Clover will not be able to apply for the grants. In turn, the homeowners living in York and Clover who have needs to repair and up-fit their residences will have to continue living in substandard housing without this financial assistance.
Applying for non-matching federal grants is an acceptable and smart way to assist local county residents without going into the local general fund. As York County Council chairman and a member of the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Britt Blackwell’s vote not to participate in the consortium is unacceptable.
He needs to show better leadership by educating the council on the benefits of COG and promoting how it has been the conduit for millions of federal dollars to York County for decades. It has provided money that has been used to clean up brown fields, for infrastructure projects, and yes, for housing projects, none of which had any “strings” attached.
Blackwell sits on COG as a member because of his position as chairman of the council. If he no longer supports COG, whose mission is a “central staffing resource for grantsmanship,” then he should resign and let someone else who will support that mission serve as a member.
Instead of that, however, I would rather see him do some soul searching. It is never too late to put the issue back on the agenda for council to reconsider its vote.
Buddy Motz, a resident of Rock Hill, is former York County Council chairman.