Portsmouth, Ohio City Manager Derek K. Allen says the city has never received a copy of the failed application for Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) funding, despite the fact that it was supposed to be a joint effort. Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree countered that point on Tuesday to the Daily Times.
“At no time did we get to see the application,” Allen told Portsmouth City Council. “Our consultants offered to assist the county. Our consultant had told us several times that they felt that the way the application was being done that we might not get funded, but we never got to see that application and grant writing-101 you have to turn everything in.”
Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis told the Daily Times – “We (Scioto County Commissioners office) got a call yesterday (Thursday) evening informing us that we had not been funded. One sheet of paper which was a copy of the license for the asbestos removal company was not in the application. That’s what kept the project from being funded.”
“To say that, oh, it was only one piece of paper is unacceptable,” Allen said. “Everybody who writes and applies for grants knows you have to submit everything or it gets rejected.”
Allen was referring to the loss of potentially $850,000 in funding for Scioto County and the city of Portsmouth because of the denial of the application, filed by the county on behalf of the two entities.
Tracy Shearer, Community Development Director for the city of Portsmouth said the application received a zero score.
“I think there has been some criticism of our community development director for saying we scored a zero, but that’s what the people in Columbus told us,” Allen said. “We scored a zero.”
Allen said, throughout the entire process, from the beginning of the joint venture to the rejection of the application, city officials have never seen a copy of the application.
Shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree said the city had, for the first time, just minutes before, requested a copy of the application from Jane Kitts in the commissioners’ office.
Crabtree went on to say, Scioto County Grants Administrator Michelle Throckmorton, had not received a request from the city at any time.
“I talked with Michelle Throckmorton (development) and asked her if the city had requested a copy of the CHIP grant either before or after it went to the state and said no,” Crabtree said. “She has not gotten a request from Derek Allen or anyone from the city to see that grant application. Even now, Michelle has not gotten a request.”
Crabtree said it was Allen who was absent throughout the process.
“We had to call numerous times because Derek Allen wasn’t interested in participating anyway,” Crabtree said. “So he wasn’t going to get any money anyway. We practically had to beg him to come up there and I don’t care what he said, he knows he’s wrong. You know as well as I do, if you ask for something, we have to give it to you. It’s public record. We have never withheld anything. Here’s what we don’t do in the county – We don’t jump the gun and we don’t go down and start throwing rocks at the city and make derogatory remarks about the way the city does business. We don’t do that to them.”
Why was the application not accepted in the first place?
‘We looked at the CHIP application. It was thorough. It had everything they had requested and we shared that with our (Scioto County ) Prosecutor (Mark Kuhn) to see what his opinion was and he agreed with us,” Crabtree said. “We have voiced our opinion with (U.S. Sen.) Rob Portman, (State Sen.) Joe Uecker and (State Rep.) Terry Johnson and others and there has been numerous phone calls made and we’re waiting to get a response back from the state as to why they didn’t even look at the CHIP application. They said there was something missing, but they never even looked at the CHIP application. They never gave us a score or anything. So we’re trying to get all the facts together.”
Monday night, Portsmouth Solicitor John Haas gave his overview of the issue.
“This has been something that has been an issue for a while,” Portsmouth Solicitor John Haas said. “I distinctly remember a letter that came from one of the commissioners, saying that we had to answer within 24 hours on who was going to do this application, making certain demands, knowing that he (Allen) was out of the country. I remember when that happened. The county insisted that they take the reins on this and they do it. They didn’t ask for any of the help offered by the city. The city’s consultant even offered to do the application for free for the county, just to make sure that we had the best chance to get some funding and all that help was rejected.”
Crabtree then countered what was said at Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Personally, I don’t appreciate the city making remarks about things they know nothing about,” Crabtree said. “And clearly, Derek Allen doesn’t know a thing about what’s on that CHIP application. I’m not going to tolerate that kind of crap from the city or anyone else. If they want to know something, it’s a public record, and for him (Allen) to make a bunch of lies and put them in the paper, I don’t appreciate it.”
Crabtree said a copy was going to be given to the city since it had now requested it.
Allen brought up the recent activities of the new Land Bank collaboration and again took shots at the county.
“If you’re following the issues on the Land Bank, that’s one of the reasons why I voted against having the county commissioners office do the application for the Land Bank, instead of my desire to have the (Scioto County) Port Authority do it. So I only hope that lessons are learned, we move forward, and that we’re successful in our Land Bank application.”
The land bank was formed to help address the blighted housing stock in Scioto County. Officials with the land bank have been assembling a list of properties throughout the county that would qualify for the program once the list is complete, funding can be applied for that would fund the destruction of structures on those properties.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.