The past five years since the devastating Joplin tornado have included several redevelopment projects, like the JHAP program, which gives money for home buying assistance. Those projects have been funded by federal grant money, or CDBG-DR (community development block grant disaster recovery) funds. Money has been set aside for future projects. City officials say a multi million dollar contract is well worth the price to make sure those federal dollars will be used correctly.
Carl Junction resident Mike Southern knows Joplin has come a long way since the 2011 tornado.
"It's remarkable how they've come back within the five years," says Southern.
Almost every time Southern drives through the tornado-affected areas, he's reminded of something else.
"I think a lot of work needs to be done on streets," says Southern.
City officials say next year, Joplin will be an "orange cone community" because of so many construction projects.
"It's kind of a herculean effort," says Patty Heagel, CDBG project coordinator with the City of Joplin.
City workers want to pay up to $2.1 million to an outside company that will help manage these upcoming projects. There will be road and sidewalk improvements to parts of South Main and 20th streets, a new senior center, and a new senior housing complex, among other projects.
Then, there's about $10 million worth of sewer repair.
"Underneath, they've been crushed, they've been blocked, those types of things," says Heagel.
The key to using disaster relief funds for these projects is in an eight-inch-thick federal rule book.
"Assuring that we are going out to bid appropriately. That the engineers have executed plans that can be instructed upon, making sure those contractors are employing people at a certain wage," says Heagel.
An outside company called Deloitte & Touche has helped the City follow federal guidelines. The City has used $58 million so far, and of that grant money, Deloitte & Touche has received about $12.2 million for management services.
"We don't expect to spend too much more than eight or nine percent in planning and admin, and that includes Deloitte and city staff. We believe we're being very prudent in executing the grant," says Heagel.
City workers want a $2.1 million contract extension with Deloitte & Touche good until the end of May. City workers say the outside help, though it comes with a big price, comfortably lowers the risk of not following federal guidelines.
"It's hard to explain to the citizens because they don't see all of the regulations that are tied to it," says Heagel.
But visible progress has been made while using Deloitte & Touche, and people like Mike Southern are looking forward to more change.
This contract extension will be discussed during tonight's city council meeting. City officials expect more contracts with Deloitte & Touche until 2019, but the cost of each contract will vary.
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