PENDLETON — The city of Pendleton will have to borrow money to gain access to a $3 million federal grant, but city staff are maintaining that they will immediately pay it back.
At a meeting Tuesday, the council will consider approving an up to $2.25 million interfund loan as a part of a match for a long-awaited grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help build an industrial park at the Pendleton Unmanned Aerial Systems Range.
In a staff report to the city council, the city manager, finance director, and public works director explained how the match and reimbursement process works.
The trio wrote that the city must pay the contractor before the city is eligible to have half of the expenses reimbursed.
“Under this reimbursement scheme, EDA needs verification City of Pendleton has cash available to make such payments prior to grant reimbursement,” the report states. “This is the primary purpose for creating a UAS Airport Improvements Project Fund and providing an interfund loan.”
City staff wrote that creating a new fund in the budget specifically for the EDA grant will lead to more transparency as the public will be able to track every expense the project requests reimbursement on.
As soon as the city receives the reimbursement check from the federal government, the report states the loan will be repaid.
The federal grant is a part of a multimillion-dollar effort to build a UAS industrial park that will provide infrastructure and facilities to the drone industry.
Besides the federal grant, the city is covering the rest of the expenses with money from state sewer and water loans that are in turn being paid for by a series of utility rate hikes.
During the council meeting, members are also set to vote on a bid from Axon Enterprise of Scottsdale, Arizona, to supply body cameras to the Pendleton Police Department.
To provide body cameras, related hardware, software, and data storage, Axon would charge the city $27,580 for the first year of service, according to a report from Police Chief Stuart Roberts.
The body cameras will be covered by a $31,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which requires Pendleton to match it with another $31,000.
Roberts wrote that Axon’s bid was low enough that the city will be able to cover a second year of body camera services.
Before the council meeting, members will meet as the Pendleton Development Commission.
The commission will discuss providing a $32,591 match for a $111,593 project to repair walkways, stairways, and entrances to the Vert Auditorium.
Charles Denight, associate director of the commission, wrote in a report that the Pendleton Downtown Association has already received a $70,362 Main Street Revitalization grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission, but the project needs matching funds.
“Entry areas to the Vert are in sad shape. It’s not just cosmetic,” Denight wrote. ”The crumbling concrete steps, sidewalks and ADA ramp are hazardous and may cause an injury to a patron that could result in serious expense to the City.”
Owned and operated by the city, the Vert Auditorium was opened in 1926 and serves as the home of the Oregon East Symphony.