Van Buren County will apply for a $420,000 Community Development Block Grant for fire departments after County Commissioners approved the move Tuesday night.
The grant will provide equipment to the county’s five volunteer fire departments. County Mayor Greg Wilson said the county caught a break by only having to provide $50,000 on this grant.
“One good thing about this one, is it’s only a 12 percent match,” Wilson said. “The others were a little bit higher, but due to COVID, we got some COVID relief on the percentages.”
Wilson said the other grant the county looked into was asking for a 17 percent match. Commissioner William Maxwell said the county has the $50,000 in this year’s budget and will be in the coming years budget, now that applying has been approved.
“As far as I know, we’ve had that money in the budget ever since I’ve been a part of the commission,” Maxwell said.
This grant application faced some community opposition during and leading up to the county’s public hearing on the grant in December. This opposition was based on questions about whether the county had the money to match on the grant and what equipment fire departments needed.
Maxwell said previously that Van Buren County did not qualify for other CDBG grant uses. Van Buren County currently averages an eight to 10 on the Insurance Services Office rating.
This rating calculates how well-equipped fire departments are to put out fires in the community. An ISO rating is on a one to 10 scale, with 10 being the worst and one being the best.