Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-Denver, met with Englewood city officials on May 9 and some of the issues discussed included possible removal of tax exempt status from municipal bonds, tax reform and health care.
DeGette represents Colorado's First Congressional District, which includes Englewood and she traditionally meets with city officials once a year.
Mayor Joe Jefferson asked DeGette about the federal funding level for community block development grants. He said the grants are important to Englewood and past grants have helped fund projects such as the program to provide assistance for home improvements.
“Congress has passed the budget for fiscal year 2017 and the block grant funding is set at about the same level it was for 2106,” the congresswoman said. “We in Congress know the value of the grants to local governments. In discussions I often use Englewood as an example of a community that has used block grant funds with great success.”
The congresswoman was also asked about possible federal funds to assist with Englewood’s need to replace the police management system.
“The system is out of date and it will cost about $750,000 for a new system,” City Manager Eric Keck said. “We would apply for financial help if it is available.”
DeGette said she will ask her staff to check to see if financial assistance is possible through the Department of Justice or the Office of Homeland Security.
Another area discussed was possible transportation funds to assist with existing and planned bridges.
“Several city-owned bridges are in need of expensive repairs and we also would like to build pedestrian bridges so people can safely cross busy streets,” Keck said. “Bridge repairs are expensive and estimates are it will cost $750,000 to $1.5 million to build pedestrian bridges. We talked to the Colorado Department of Transportation and they said the issues are our problems. We would like to know if it is possible to apply for federal transportation funds to help pay for these projects.”
DeGette said the transportation funding bill received congressional approval and she will check to see if the city can apply for U.S. Department of Transportation grants to help pay for the projects.
DeGette also took time to talk about the healthcare bill that was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We know the ability to have adequate healthcare insurance is a very personal issue and important to everyone,” she said. “There are problems with the House-passed bill. Generally it appears a lot of people will no longer have coverage under the new bill. There is also concern about the provision allowing states to exempt insurance providers from covering pre-existing conditions. I expect the bill will be in the Senate for a long time and I expect there will be a lot of changes before the bill is finalized.”