Mercer County hopes block grant funds survive federal budget cuts

The county gets nearly $400,000 per year from the block grants.
MERCER, Pa. -- Mercer County commissioners are watching preparation of the federal budget to see whether Community Development Block Grants will survive threatened budget cuts.
The county benefits greatly from the funds, which come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Between $340,000 to $380,000 comes to commissioners each year for distribution to projects submitted by townships and boroughs. In addition, larger communities receive their own annual CDBG funding including Greenville, Farrell, Sharon, Hermitage and Grove City.
Commissioner Michele Brooks said she was informed Wednesday by the office of Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., that the senator continues to support an effort to keep the CDBG program in the Fiscal Year 2006 budget.
Shoring up support
In March, Santorum joined other senators to pass a budget amendment to support a $4.73 billion budget allocation for the CDBG program, economic development loan guarantees and the Brownfields Economic Development initiative for 2006.
However, nothing has been finalized. A staff member at Santorum's office said Thursday that the senator will continue to lead the effort to continue funding for the CDBG program, but it is still early in the process and the Senate has yet to consider the funding appropriations bill.
Brooks said Wednesday that if CDBG funding is continued, "It would be great news for this county."
Other affairs
In other business Thursday, commissioners:
UFormally approved the hiring of Mary Ann Daniels of Meadville as the new director of Mercer County Children and Youth Services at $51,465 per year.
UMade several purchases for the soon-to-open new county jail. They accepted a bid from Pennsylvania Police Supply, Inc., of Chalk Hill, Pa., for $15,294 for security equipment including handcuffs, leg irons, revolvers, shotguns, body scanners and Taser accessories; one for $8,114 from ATD America Co., of Wyncote, Pa. for security equipment including helmets, protective body gear, security lockers and other items; one for $3,140 from Castle Maintenance products of New Castle, for janitorial equipment; and one for $15,135 from Cook's Correctional Kitchen Equipment of Lisle, Ill., for kitchen equipment.
UApproved a request from Bill Boyle, director of administrative services, to re-advertise for maintenance tools for the new jail. No bids were received, and the need must be advertised a second time before the county can buy the items without bids.
UApproved a contract with Maximus, Inc., Harrisburg, to develop Mercer County's indirect cost allocation plan for 2004-06 at $7,200 annually.
UAgreed to continue a program at Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau in which mature workers are trained for future employment by working at the bureau. Salaries are paid by Mature Services Inc., and the county has no financial obligation.
UApproved Mental Health/Retardation provider contracts for 2005-06.

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