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TITLE 4AGRICULTURE
PART 1TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
CHAPTER 30COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
SUBCHAPTER ATEXAS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT PROGRAM
DIVISION 3ADMINISTRATION OF PROGRAM FUNDS
RULE §30.50Community Development (CD) Fund

(a) Eligibility. In addition to meeting the application threshold requirements in §30.25 of this subchapter (relating to Application Threshold Requirements), in order to be eligible to apply for community development funds, a community must document that at least 51.00% of the persons who would directly benefit from the implementation of each activity and target area proposed in the application are of low to moderate income.

(b) Application cycle. Applications are accepted on a biennial basis and selected for award pursuant to regional competitions held during the first year of the biennial cycle. An eligible community may submit one application per cycle as prescribed in the most recent application guide for this fund.

(c) Regional allocations. Each state planning region is provided with a regional CD Fund allocation for each program year of the biennial cycle once HUD releases the state's annual CDBG allocation.

(d) Selection procedures.

  (1) Initial review. Upon receipt of an application, the department performs an initial review for application completeness and eligibility in accordance with §30.29 of this subchapter (relating to Application Review). Only the department may disqualify an application from consideration.

  (2) Scoring process. During the first program year of the application cycle, eligible applications are scored and ranked by the department using criteria determined by the state planning region, the Unified Scoring Committee, and the department as described in subsection (e) of this section.

  (3) Awards. After the department determines the final rankings of applications, awards are made based on each region's allocation and awarded until funds allocated to the region are depleted. If the program year allocation is insufficient to completely fund the next highest ranked application in the region, projects may be funded using TxCDBG deobligated funds or other funds, to the extent available. The department may also pool the remaining funds from each region to maximize the total number of applications to be fully funded.

(e) Scoring criteria.

  (1) Regional project priority category. Each state planning region, as defined by Chapter 391 of the Local Government Code, is responsible for establishing the project types that will be considered first, second, or third priority projects.

    (A) The governing body of the state planning region shall establish the priorities and communicate the decision to the department or may appoint a committee to carry out these tasks.

    (B) Public meeting. The public must be given an opportunity to comment on the project priorities to be considered. The designated committee must convene in an open meeting for discussion and action to adopt project priorities.

      (i) Notice of the public meeting must be advertised to the general public through a regional newspaper or other similar media. Each community eligible to participate in the application cycle must also be contacted directly with written notice of the public meeting.

      (ii) The public meeting is subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act.

    (C) The department will provide a format for establishing the criteria and a deadline for submitting the regional decision to the department to be incorporated into the application guide.

    (D) State planning regions that use internal staff to prepare applications and administer CDBG grants must address the potential conflicts of interest of regional participation in selecting project priorities. For these regions, staff responsible for any part of the grant application process:

      (i) may not participate in the planning or administration of the public meeting or committee duties, including distributing public meeting notices, explaining public meeting requirements to committee members, conducting the committee meeting, or submitting the results of the committee to the department; and

      (ii) may attend the public meeting but may not present recommendations to the committee except during the public comment portion of the meeting, subject to the same time limits applied to other commenters.

    (E) Twenty-five percent of the total available points will be determined by regional project priority categories.

  (2) Department scoring criteria. The following factors are considered by the department when scoring CD Fund applications (detailed application and scoring information are available in the application guidelines):

    (A) Past performance--the department will consider a community's performance on all previously awarded TxCDBG contracts within the past 4 years preceding the application deadline. Evaluation of a community's past performance will include the following:

      (i) completion of contract activities within the original contract period;

      (ii) submission of environmental review requirements within prescribed deadlines;

      (iii) submission of the required close-out documents within the period prescribed for such submission; and

      (iv) maximum utilization of grant funds awarded.

    (B) Other programmatic priorities--the department may establish other scoring criteria to meet programmatic goals, so long as the application cycle allows sufficient time after the publication of such scoring criteria for communities to take action to maximize their score.

    (C) Ten percent of the total available points will be determined by department scoring criteria.

  (3) Unified Scoring Committee (USC) criteria. The USC is responsible for determining objective scoring factors for all regions in accordance with the requirements of this section and the current TxCDBG Action Plan. The USC must establish the numerical value of the points assigned to each scoring factor as described in the Committee Guidelines provided by the department.

    (A) USC composition. The Agriculture Commissioner will appoint each member of the USC, to serve at the discretion of the Commissioner.

      (i) Twenty-four (24) members shall be appointed to the USC. The Commissioner shall ensure geographic representation for each state planning region when appointing members.

      (ii) Each member must be either an elected or appointed official of a non-entitlement community at the time of appointment.

      (iii) The governing body of each state planning region may nominate one individual to be considered for appointment. The department will establish a timeline for such nominations.

    (B) Public hearing. The public must be given an opportunity to comment on the scoring criteria considered. The department will convene a public hearing for the USC to discuss and select the objective scoring criteria that will be used to score and rank applications within each region.

      (i) Notice of public hearing. USC proceedings are subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act. The department will publish notice of the hearing in the Texas Register, post the notice on its website, and announce the hearing details through the CDBG email listserv that is available for all stakeholders.

      (ii) Attendance at meetings. A quorum is required for the USC public meeting. A USC member may designate a proxy to attend the meeting. Proxies are counted for purposes of determining the presence of a quorum and may participate in the discussion regarding potential scoring criteria but may not vote on matters before the USC.

    (C) Requirements for scoring criteria.

      (i) All scoring criteria selected by the USC must be in compliance with 24 CFR §91.320(k)(1)(i), which states in relevant part, "The statement of method of distribution must provide sufficient information so that units of general local government will be able to understand and comment on it, understand what criteria and information their application will be judged, and be able to prepare responsive applications."

      (ii) Prior to the scheduled USC public hearing, the department will publish a list of previously approved scoring criteria that comply with objective scoring requirements. The department will also provide an opportunity for USC members, communities, and other stakeholders to submit additional scoring criteria to the department to be reviewed for compliance prior to the public hearing.

      (iii) The USC may not adopt scoring factors that directly negate or offset the department's scoring factors.

    (D) Final selection of scoring criteria.

      (i) The final selection of the scoring criteria is the responsibility of the USC and must be consistent with the requirements of the current TxCDBG Action Plan.

      (ii) The department will review the scoring factors selected to ensure that all scoring factors are objective and publish the approved scoring methodology in the application guide. The department may provide further details or elaboration on the objective scoring methodology, data sources, and other clarifying details without the necessity of a subsequent USC meeting.

    (E) Sixty-five percent of the total available points will be determined by USC scoring criteria.

(f) Other department responsibilities. The department may:

  (1) establish the maximum number of USC scoring factors that may be used in order to improve review and verification efficiency, or exclude certain scoring factors if the data is not readily available or verifiable in a timely manner. To ensure consistency, the department may determine the acceptable data source for a particular scoring factor;

  (2) establish a deadline for each state planning region to select and submit to the department its project type priorities and nomination for the USC;

  (3) publish Committee Guidelines to assist the USC in selecting scoring criteria that meet federal, state and program requirements:

    (A) For any region for which no project priorities are submitted, applications will be scored according to the priorities published in the Committee Guidelines.

    (B) In the event the USC fails to approve an objective scoring methodology to the satisfaction of the department consistent with the requirements in the current TxCDBG Action Plan, the department will establish scoring factors using the scoring factors identified in the Committee Guidelines; and

  (4) make a site visit to recommended application localities.


Source Note: The provisions of this §30.50 adopted to be March 15, 2020, 45 TexReg 1671

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