One of the biggest challenges for local government is to develop a
budget that will sufficiently cover anticipated project costs in a
fiscal year. While most costs can be covered by various department
budgets, additional sources of money are often needed to cover new
projects or programs that come up. Federal or state grants can typically
serve as a medium for this additional funding and, as result, grant
applications have become a fundamental part of most local government
departments. For the City of Des Plaines IL, applying for a grant from
the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)
provided a potential source of money for making necessary improvements
across the city.
The primary focus of DCEO grants is to provide communities with the
financial means to implement infrastructure improvements or
rehabilitation projects, primarily in low to moderate income areas,
where the project will help to improve the quality of the resident’s
living environment. For the City of Des Plaines, the grant being applied
for would provide money for funding utility infrastructure improvements
in low to moderate income neighborhoods.
To assist with this project, the city’s Geographic Information System
(GIS) department worked with the Public Works and Engineering
department to provide maps of the existing utilities, along with census
income statistics, in the proposed project areas to help highlight
economic conditions and how funds from the grant would help to improve
the utility services being provided to the residents. Floodplain
boundary maps were also provided to show how most of the proposed
projects fell within areas designated by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) as being at a higher risk of flooding.
By providing spatial statistics and map products with the grant
application, the city helped to visualize the impact any grant funding
would have on improving the utility infrastructure in the project
neighborhoods. Clarifying the impact the grant would have helps to
strengthen the city’s case for receiving the funds that could help
provide higher quality services to its residents.