MERCER COUNTY Housing officials to apply for $1.3M

Some authority residents are jumping the gun on a pending pet policy that will allow them to have animals.
SHARON, Pa. -- Mercer County Housing Authority got a $9 million federal grant to help replace the Steel City Terrace apartment complex in Farrell and will seek $1.3 million more to cover the demolition cost.
The replacement of the 100-unit complex is a federal Hope IV project that will result in making public housing more attractive, more livable and able to get special federal grant consideration.
This project will replace the old barracks-style apartments with 65 housing units in numerous buildings on the old site and 70 more units in the surrounding neighborhood.
The project is expected to exceed $20 million.
The authority already secured the $9 million grant and part of that was to go for demolition of the old buildings, said L. DeWitt Boosel, authority executive director.
Applying for funds: The authority later learned that grant is available specifically for demolition costs. The agency's board of directors voted Wednesday to apply for $1.3 million to cover that cost.
Boosel said that will free up more money for construction.
In a related matter, Boosel said the authority also has secured a $1.57 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing & amp; Urban Development.
The authority already has pledged $1.44 million of that grant, normally used to modernize authority properties, as a loan to the Hope VI effort.
News about deficit: In other matters, Boosel advised the board that the anticipated $66,000 deficit in the agency's $3 million annual operating budget is much worse than original estimates.
The deficit has grown to $151,138 because of such unanticipated expenses as an additional $30,000 for employee health insurance, $10,700 for additional maintenance supplies, $8,000 for graffiti removal and $9,100 for emergency roof and maintenance repairs.
The authority will tap its $1.7 million budgetary reserve to cover the deficit, he said.
Pet policy: Boosel said some authority tenants are jumping the gun regarding the agency's first pet policy, which doesn't go into effect until July 1.
All animals are banned from authority properties, but the policy will allow residents to keep various types of pets.
Some people, however, are getting pets without knowing the policy rules.
Dogs, for example, can't weigh more than 25 pounds, and vicious dogs are banned.
Animals must be registered with the authority with proof they have the proper inoculations and licenses. Dogs and cats must be spayed or neutered, Boosel said.
The owner also must provide the authority with a photo of his or her pet, he said.

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