Grants are usually seen as free money, but the village of Lombard will be returning a $22,000 federal grant to DuPage County after deciding it actually wouldn't be cost-efficient to use it.
The Community Development Block Grant was awarded to Lombard through the county for accessibility improvements to four public restrooms and two staff restrooms at village hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave. The money was intended as a matching grant, so the village budgeted $44,000 for the project, which includes bringing the restrooms up to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Three bids the village received for the work all exceeded budget, with the lowest proposal -- $78,801 -- topping budget by $29,801.
"It would cost us more than the village's budget to use the grant money," Public Works Director Carl Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith said contractors told him extra paperwork required because of the Community Development Block Grant money was driving up the price of what otherwise would be a small-scale project.
"These are very small projects, and you're going to be spending as much time administering the project as you will be doing the work," Goldsmith said.
Even without grant funding, the restroom accessibility project will move forward. Goldsmith said public works staff plans to install the improvements gradually as time and budgets allow.