Potter County is seeking to re-budget Community Development Block Grant funding after some local applications didn’t meet requirements for assistance.
“We had a couple of coronavirus-related projects that were not able to meet the obligations or they did not get us the information required,” explained Ellen Russel, director of community development, at the county commissioners’ meeting Thursday, Sept. 23. “We basically had to remove the funding and re-budget it, so we are going to move that money to meet some shortfalls in some other projects.”
The county received the CDBG funding from the Pa. Department of Community and Economic Development to assist businesses and organizations with COVID-related projects and expenses.
Russel said in addition, no applications were received for the Small Business Support Grant Program, also tied to CDBG.
“That’s half the [total CDBG] funds right there,” said Russel.
At the meeting, commissioners approved the budget modifications, which will be sent to DCED for final approval before being re-doled out to previously approved projects.
“The big winner here is Genesee Township Water Authority,” said Commissioner Paul Heimel. “They’ll get $66,000 for their massive water project.”
Related to community assistance, Commissioner Nancy Grupp said the county still has a significant amount of money to dole out through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The county received $1,860,000 and has only spent a little more than $160,000.
ERAP is available to both renters and landlords to help with utility payments and rent. Inability to pay must be directly related to COVID-19 and the program ends Sept. 30, 2022. Full eligibility guidelines for EARP can be found at https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/coronavirus/assistance-for-state-local-and-tribal-governments/emergency-rental-assistance-program.
“I know a few businesses have shut down recently due to COVID,” said Grupp. “So those employees if they rent could apply for funding.”
For questions or to apply for ERAP, contact Jim Kockler, director of Potter County Human Services, at email@example.com or 814-544-7315.
Grupp also said funding may be available soon for necessary home modifications, such as mobility ramps. She encouraged interested residents to contact her to be put on a wait list as grants become available.
Also at the meeting, commissioners:
- Approved an agreement with Databranch for DataGuard Business Continuity and Data Protection, effective Oct. 1, 2020-Sept. 30, 2023 for a total amount of $31,656.
- Approved an application for 2021 Liquid Fuels Tax funds from Pleasant Valley Township for $647.97.
- Acknowledged the resignations of Jeff Russell, part-time security guard at the courthouse, and Kord Kinney, assistant district attorney. Commissioners said Kinney is taking a job as chief public defender in another county and that the position has been posted. In response to a question from a meeting visitor about the cost of the position, Grupp said it’s already built in to the county’s budget.
- Recognized Sandy Lewis, director of elections, for going above and beyond in her position. “In a time where elections directors are resigning due to badgering and abuse they’ve faced and frivolous lawsuits, Lewis has remained strong,” said Heimel. “The latest example is she issued an advisory of deadlines and procedures in advance of the election which will surely be helpful to voters.”
- Authorized an application to the PA Municipal Assistance Program.
- Accepted the highest bid of $250 for an Alaska Stoker II Coal Stove.
- Heard from Gupp that Potter County Senior Day is Oct. 13 with activities and information on area senior centers from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Tri-Town Fire Hall in Ulysses. For questions about the event, contact the Ulysses Senior Center at 814-848-9880.
- Also heard from Gupp that Cherry Springs State Park is planning to make changes to “better accommodate dark skies,” including improvements to the night sky public program area, rustic camping, overnight astronomy site and to help parking and traffic issues. Grupp said construction is expected to start next year.