Miscalculation Costs City $150,000 HOME Grant
BY JEFF CLARK
For the third time since November, Columbus Director of Federal Programs Travis Jones found himself in hot water and behind closed doors in executive session with Mayor Robert Smith and the Columbus City Council Tuesday night. According to sources close to the subject, Jones was behind closed doors to appeal a disciplinary action after his department lost a federal HOME grant, which was reported to have totaled approximately $150,000.
“The deadline for the grant application was met, but there was supposed to have been a public hearing and the date for the public hearing was miscalculated by six days,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. “Since there was no public hearing, the city can’t get the grant money.”
The HOME rehabilitation grant is administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Projects included under its guidelines include weatherization, emergency repairs and handicapped accessibility repairs.
“This is a serious error,” he said. “This cost us $150,000 and it hurts the community by not being able to use the grant. It’s a big deal.”
The grant gaffe is the second time since November Jones or someone from his department has cost the city grant monies. Jones was suspended in November for miscalculating the city’s matching funds on a $500,000 grant to renovate City Hall.
“The fact that he cost us $500,000 recently complicates this matter,” he said.
Also receiving write-ups for the HOME grant were George Irby and Loria Porter, who is allegedly the person who was working on the HOME grant and may have been the one who actually miscalculated the public hearing date.
“It says in the handbook that an employee has three days to appeal disciplinary action,” said the source. “Technically, last night was Travis’ appeal, but we decided to table the matter until the next council meeting.”