Is It A Grant? Or Is It A Loan?

To The Editor:

It’s a Grant!

College students apply, cities apply, towns and villages, and counties also apply for grants.

Private organizations apply and non-profit organizations also apply for them.

Why? Because they are a way to receive money that doesn’t have to be paid back.

Grants may be from any number of places.

They could be private or state or federal.

The key words are “They don’t have to be paid back.”

If it is money that has to be paid back it is a loan not a grant.

Well you all may remember a news story about the county accepting $400,000 in grant money to help homeowners with well and septic system problems, stating that they would be able to help some 20 Homeowners.

Well here is the kicker my friends.

The applicants must fall within a specified income range.

“Why Frank; it’s a grant?”

 There are other factors also but I’m not sure what they are and they aren’t the subject of this story.

Any applicant must fall between 30% and 80% of the federal guide lines for HUD housing income for poverty.

Which I agree with to a point.

If a homeowner falls below 30% they don’t qualify for the county grant.

Why? Because they wouldn’t be able to pay the money back.

“Frank I thought it was a grant.”

 My point.

There are families that are up in the North Country that work off the land and only make enough to pay taxes, put food on the table and clothes on their backs.

They fall well below the guidelines.

The key there is they pay taxes. Not enough money to pay back a loan.

In the last legislative session I voted in favor of accepting the $400,000 grant money but I asked that an amendment be made to add that of the 20 homeowners helped that four of those homeowners receive a full grant to either repair a well or septic system.

“Why would you have to do that Frank isn’t it a grant?”

My point exactly.

The amendment was voted down (on a roll call vote).

During the discussion on the floor I explained that I wasn’t asking for the people in my district.

I said, “I believe the last well or septic system in the city of Fulton was more than 100 years ago. I’m asking for the people in rural area of the county”

One of the comments made when I was asking about the grant money was, “If we don’t know their income we might get into an actual grant situation.”

When I said some of the homes with the land only have an assessed value of about $28,000 and those people aren’t going to put a new well or septic system in, the comment was, “Do we want to invest in it either.”

I have three points here.

The first one is the fact that the county received grant money to help up to 20 homeowners. The county doesn’t have to pay this money back but the homeowners do.

Another hocus pocus: changing a grant into a loan.

The second point is that I asked to have only four of the 20 homeowners receive a true grant and it was turned down.

The third is that these four homeowners pay taxes so the grant money is partly theirs.

Now the county may well wind up giving up to four homeowners a true grant and if they do I will be very happy, but it is highly unlikely.

Frank Castiglia Jr.

Oswego County Legislator 25th District

1 Comment

  1. The well & septic grant that you’re speaking of is actually titled a well & septic revolving loan program, where homeowners pay back based on income and pay little to no interest. This allows the payments to be used by another constituent in need, hence the revolving loan program.
    The “grants” are applied for using certain data and other information, provided in the application process. The legislature gives its permission to apply for these grants. I do believe the revolving loan part is explained in the grant application.

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