Over the past few years, responsibility for the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program has shifted. The latest shift requires the promulgation of administrative rules to govern the program.
Each year the federal government makes approximately $6 million available to the state of Wisconsin for economic and housing development through a program known as the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). The CDBG is governed under federal law, 42 USC 5301 to 5319 and 24 CFR Part 570, and is administered at the federal level by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
At the state level, administration of the CDBG funds has changed over the past few years. CDBG was originally administered by the Wisconsin Dept. of Commerce under Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter Commerce 108. When the Dept. of Commerce was dissolved, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was put in charge of administering the funds, which were received on behalf of the state by the Wisconsin Dept. of Administration (DOA). Since WEDC is a pseudo-agency, it did not need an administrative code chapter to administer the program, instead relying on internal policies that were modeled on the old code chapter Commerce 108.
DOA and WEDC recently determined that the expertise of DOA is better suited to administration of CDBG funds, while the expertise of WEDC is best suited to consultation with localities and businesses seeking to access CDBG funds. DOA and WEDC are in the process of formally transferring the administrative responsibility of CDBG funds to DOA. In order to legally administer the program, DOA must promulgate an administrative code chapter governing the program since DOA is a full agency, not a pseudo-agency like WEDC.
To this end, DOA has released an emergency (meaning temporary) rule, Admin. Code Ch. Adm 93, relating to the community development block grant program.
DOA’s plain language analysis of the rule says that the rule will:
- Reconstitute many portions of the former ch. Comm 108.
- Decline to reconstitute portions of ch. Comm 108 which added unnecessary confusion by duplicating federal regulations where reference to such regulations will suffice, such as the former ss. Comm 108.04, 108.07 and 108.14(1).
- Decline to reconstitute portions of ch. Comm 108 which could vary from year to year, such as the table found in the former s. Comm 108.06.
- Decline to reconstitute portions of ch. Comm 108 that add complexity to the code without adding meaning, such as point ranges found in the former s. Comm 108.10.
- Such other changes as are necessary to comply with current HUD requirements, or which will otherwise increase the efficiency or effectiveness of the program and are allowed by HUD requirements.
DOA is also working on adopting a non-emergency (not temporary) rule to govern administration of the program for the foreseeable future. The current draft is identical to the emergency rule. DOA is currently accepting comments on the economic impact the proposed rule will have on businesses, local government units, public utility rate payers and the state’s economy as a whole.
DOA CDBG Website
WEDC CDBG Website
U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development CDBG Website