(1) In applying for a grant under a specific program category, an applicant shall propose eligible activities that directly address the objectives of that program category.
(2)(a) Except for applications for economic development grants as provided in subparagraph (b)1., an eligible local government may submit one application for a grant during each application cycle.
(b)1. An eligible local government may apply up to three times in any one annual funding cycle for an economic development grant but may not receive more than one such grant per annual funding cycle. A local government may have more than one open economic development grant.
2. The department shall establish minimum criteria pertaining to the number of jobs created for persons of low or moderate income, the degree of private sector financial commitment, and the economic feasibility of the proposed project and shall establish any other criteria the department deems appropriate. Assistance to a private, for-profit business may not be provided from a grant award unless sufficient evidence exists to demonstrate that without such public assistance the creation or retention of such jobs would not occur.
(c)1. A local government with an open housing rehabilitation, neighborhood revitalization, or commercial revitalization contract is not eligible to apply for another housing rehabilitation, neighborhood revitalization, or commercial revitalization grant until administrative closeout of its existing contract. The department shall notify a local government of administrative closeout or of any outstanding closeout issues within 45 days after receipt of a closeout package from the local government. A local government with an open housing rehabilitation, neighborhood revitalization, or commercial revitalization community development block grant contract whose activities are on schedule in accordance with the expenditure rates and accomplishments described in the contract may apply for an economic development grant.
2. A local government with an open economic development community development block grant contract whose activities are on schedule in accordance with the expenditure rates and accomplishments described in the contract may apply for a housing rehabilitation, neighborhood revitalization, or commercial revitalization community development block grant. A local government with an open economic development contract whose activities are on schedule in accordance with the expenditure rates and accomplishments described in the contract may receive no more than one additional economic development grant in each fiscal year.
(d) The department may not award a grant until it has conducted a site visit to verify the information contained in the local government’s application.
(3)(a) The department shall rank each application received during the application cycle according to criteria established by rule. The ranking system shall include a procedure to eliminate or reduce any population-related bias that places exceptionally small communities at a disadvantage in the competition for funds.
(b) Funds shall be distributed according to the rankings established in each application cycle. If economic development funds remain available after the application cycle closes, the remaining funds shall be awarded to eligible projects on a first-come, first-served basis until such funds are fully obligated.
(c) The application’s program impact score, equal employment opportunity and fair housing score, and communitywide needs score may take into consideration scoring factors, including, but not limited to, unemployment, poverty levels, low-income and moderate-income populations, benefits to low-income and moderate-income residents, use of minority-owned and woman-owned business enterprises in previous grants, health and safety issues, and the condition of physical structures.
(4) In order to provide citizens with information concerning an applicant’s proposed project, the applicant shall make available to the public information concerning the amounts of funds available for various activities and the range of activities that may be undertaken. In addition, the applicant shall hold a minimum of two public hearings in the local jurisdiction within which the project is to be implemented to obtain the views of citizens before submitting the final application to the department. The applicant shall conduct the initial hearing to solicit public input concerning community needs, inform the public about funding opportunities available to address community needs, and discuss activities that may be undertaken. Before a second public hearing is held, the applicant must publish a summary of the proposed application that provides citizens with an opportunity to examine the contents of the application and to submit comments. The applicant shall conduct a second hearing to obtain comments from citizens concerning the proposed application and to modify the proposed application if appropriate.
(5) The local government may establish a citizen advisory task force composed of citizens in the jurisdiction in which the proposed project is to be implemented to provide input relative to all phases of the project process.
(6) The department shall, before approving an application for a grant, determine that the applicant has the administrative capacity to carry out the proposed activities and has performed satisfactorily in carrying out past activities funded by community development block grants. The evaluation of past performance shall take into account procedural aspects of previous grants as well as substantive results. If the department determines that any applicant has failed to accomplish substantially the results it proposed in its last previously funded application, it may prohibit the applicant from receiving a grant or may penalize the applicant in the rating of the current application. An application for grant funds may not be denied solely upon the basis of the past performance of the eligible applicant.
1Note.—Section 56, ch. 2014-218, provides that:
“(1) The executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity is authorized, and all conditions are deemed to be met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, for the purpose of implementing this act.
“(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the emergency rules adopted pursuant to subsection (1) remain in effect for 6 months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.
“(3) This section shall expire October 1, 2015.”