Commissioners to decide on block grants on Feb. 22

A public hearing is planned for Feb. 8.
MERCER, Pa. -- The Mercer County Regional Planning Commission has recommended that sewer and water treatment projects in Pymatuning Township get the largest share of Community Development Block Grant Funds for less densely populated areas in the county this year.
But county commissioners have the final say, and they'll decide Feb. 22 which projects will get funded.
The county will receive 316,000 in its annual CDBG allotment this year, a 2 percent drop from 2006. Only about 259,000 will be available for projects after 18 percent of the total is set aside to pay the planning commission to administer the projects. But commissioners have received 387,101 in project requests.
Commissioners originally planned to make the decision at their Feb. 8 meeting. But Commissioners Olivia Lazor and Kenneth Seamans agreed Tuesday that they will wait until the Feb. 22 meeting to decide. This was at the request of Commissioner Brian Beader, who will be on vacation next week and wants to take part in the final decision because he expects the vote to be "sensitive."
A public hearing on the fund requests has been set for 10 a.m. Feb. 8 in the commissioners' assembly room in the basement of the county courthouse.
Amounts sought
The requests follow, with the planning commission's recommendation for funding in parentheses:
168,000 ( 168,000) from Pymatuning Township for replacement of a grinder and pump at the Reynolds Disposal Company treatment plant to serve 1,100 residents in Reynolds development area.
85,000 ( 44,120) from Pymatuning Township for a building to enclose a sedimentation basin at the Reynolds Water Company treatment plant to serve 1,100 residents.
63,014 (0) from Jamestown borough for construction of a new street to benefit residents of a 27-unit senior housing development.
27,600 ( 20,000) from The Literacy Council of Mercer County to revise and expand a program to rural areas.
* 20,000 ( 15,000) from Community Counseling Center for an increase in outpatient mental health and substance abuse services to rural residents.
9,262 ( 6,000) from AWARE to continue and expand rural legal advocacy program to serve victims of domestic and sexual violence in rural areas.
6,000 ( 6,000) from Community Food Warehouse to support operational costs.
5,000 (0) from Medical Equipment Recycling Program to support the program to lend free medical equipment to rural residents.
3,225 (0) from Keystone Blind Association to provide personal and home management services to rural residents.
All the programs are for the less densely populated areas of the county, which do not receive their own CDBG allotments. Cities receive their own allotments.
Federal guidelines require the county to award at least 85 percent of the CDBG money to construction projects and only 15 percent to social services requests.
The planning commission met recently with commissioners and representatives of local municipalities and rated the projects using criteria such as the percent of low and moderate income persons served, whether the municipality received any funding in the past five years, whether the project would help provide sewer, water or streets, and whether it is in the county's comprehensive plan.

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