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Grants could double the Drakes Branch budget

The Town of Drakes Branch held a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 5, to amend its FY2020-2021 budget to include $1.2 million in grant funds that could go a long way in helping the town recover from Tropical Storm Michael two years ago if all the grants are approved.

According to town officials, the town has not received any of these funds to date but are in the process of budgeting them if approved.

Only two citizens spoke during the hearing seeking clarification on several of the grants.

The Town of Drakes Branch’s normal operating budget has been less than $900,000 for the past two years.

According to Drakes Branch Town Clerk Mary Sands, the original budget for 20-21 was $842,000, and the 2019-20 budget was $835,000.

If all grant funds are approved, the Town of Drakes Branch will have an operating budget of just over $2 million dollars.

“The grants we are receiving, if approved, will help out tremendously with the new municipal building and fire department,” Drakes Branch Mayor Denise Pridgen said. “The town has lost so much in recent years in revenue, taxes, and businesses closing, so we are thankful for all the grants coming our way.”

The town is set to receive the following grants: $20,800 in grant funds from the Department of

Housing and Community Development; $87,596 in grant funds from the CARES Act for COVID-19; $75,000 in grant funds from USDA with the town’s matching funds of $25,000 for the heating, cooling, two exhaust fans (for bathrooms) and supplies/ equipment for the new municipal building/fire house; $1,047,080 from the  Hazard Mitigation Grant Program; $785,310 in grant funds to be paid by FEMA, with the state possibly matching 20% and the town is matching 5%. This project is for the demolition of buildings and acquisition of properties in the floodplain, due to Tropical Storm Michael.