Digging trench Concho Mellon Community Center

Volunteer John Bell works on digging a trench around the modular buildings of the Mellon Community Center.

APACHE COUNTY — The Apache County Board of Supervisors will funnel some $225,000 in federal grant money into two key projects in the unincorporated community of Concho, including a new well and a community center.

Any leftover money will help the Springerville Fire Department buy air packs so firefighters can work in smoke-filled buildings, according to the priority listing approved by the board of supervisors earlier this month.

That apparently leaves the Round Valley Boys and Girls Clubs out in the cold, without enough leftover federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to cover the $153,000 request for an upgraded kitchen for use by the after-school organizations.

The county’s top priority for the federal grant is the new Concho Community Center, which needs $60,000 to finish work on a modular building, including handicapped accessible restrooms, workspace and walkways.

Community members have already raised the money to turn a modular building salvaged from a ski resort into a community center, relying heavily on donations and volunteer work. The center will serve the roughly 240 residents of Concho, where about 60 percent of residents qualify as low and moderate income under the federal guidelines.

Backers took advantage of a donation by the Mellon family to pay for the modular building.

The federal grant should also stretch to cover a $125,000 well at the Lion’s Club Park in Concho Valley, providing enough water to keep grass for a playing field growing as well as provide water for county road operations and fire department water-tender trucks.

The leftover money won’t be enough to provide the full $185,000 the Springerville Fire Department sought to buy equipment to help fight fires in the town of 2,000 more safely. About half of the people in Springerville qualify as low and moderate income, one of the key criteria in handing out the grant money. The federal Community Development Block Grant rotates from the county, St. Johns to Springerville-Eagar each year. But the supervisors rated the Springville request its third priority. Springerville will get to allocate money in a future grant cycle.

The money should arrive later this year.

Arizona sixth in federal funding nationally

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development doles out about $3.3 billion annually to counties and towns. The money’s intended to provide infrastructure and services for low and moderate income communities, but the federal government gives local agencies wide latitude in deciding what projects to fund. Arizona gets about $9 million annually from the federal program.

The grants contribute to the bounty Arizona receives from the federal government.

The state gets about $31 billion more funding from the federal government than its nearly 7 million residents pay in federal taxes of all descriptions. That represents a federal subsidy to Arizona of about $4,300 per person, according to the US Census Bureau and other sources.

One study posted on the Wallet Hub website (https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/) concluded Arizona’s the sixth most dependent state when it comes to the federal government. The top five states include New Mexico, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia and Alabama.

The states least dependent on the federal government include Illinois, Utah, New Jersey, Delaware and Kansas, according to the Wallet Hub compilation. Residents in those states paid more in taxes than they received in benefits, providing the money to subsidize residents of other states.

On average, Republican-controlled states like Arizona got substantially more money per-capita from the feds than the Democratic controlled states, the study concluded.

Arizona ranked 11th nationally when it came to federal payments to residents for things like medical care, food stamps and other programs generally related to family income. Arizona ranked 4th nationally when it came to the state’s reliance on federal funding for key programs, like schools, universities, highway projects and others.

Peter Aleshire covers county government and other topics for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at paleshire@payson.com

Peter Aleshire covers county government and other topics for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at paleshire@payson.com

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