Farmington is not eligible for federal Community Development Block Grants after the federal government switched to new standards for determining whether a town’s population has a low enough income to qualify.

Selectmen were planning to vote Tuesday night on applying to the state grant program, which administers funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but learned at its meeting that HUD switched the qualifiying criteria for the program from 2010 census data to using American Community Survey data, according to Town Manager Richard Davis.

“It was a shock to us,” said Davis.

The American Community Survey is a U.S. Census Bureau administered program that surveys some 3.5 million households across the country with questions about demographics, finances, housing and social circumstances. It replaced the old “long form” census, in which certain households were singled out for an extensive series of questions intended to develop statistics on a wide range of demographic and financial issues.

The matching grant program provides money to low- to moderate-income areas for infrastructure and economic development projects. Farmington’s downtown TIF advisory committee had recommended applying for the money in hopes of using it to match $100,000 in TIF funds and build out sidewalks, curbing and lighting along Front Street.

According to 2010 census data, 51.9 percent of Farmington’s residents were considered having low to moderate incomes, surpassing the grant program’s requirement that at least 51 percent have low to moderate incomes.

However, according to the American Community Survey data, only 41.77 percent of Farmington residents have low to moderate income, disqualifying the town from the program.

The grant program has alternative ways to apply for the money. The town could conduct its own survey to see if it finds different results, but Davis said the selectmen did not show interest in resorting to that alternative on Tuesday.

The survey would be challenging, said Davis, because it asks for personal information such as household income, and because surveys in general have traditionally experienced low response rates.

He said other town projects funded by the grant program, including upgrades to the 82 High Street apartments, will continue because those projects were already approved before the switch in qualifying criteria.

Davis said selectmen approved TIF committee recommendations to seek proposals for engineering Front Street improvements and to get updated cost estimates on the Sandy River recreational bridge.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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