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Block grant funds come in lower in 2006

February 06, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Cuts at the federal level again have reduced the amount of community development block grant money available to counties and municipalities.

The grant money may be used for housing rehabilitation, street improvements, community facilities and public services.

Organizations and municipalities apply for funds through a process that typically includes a public hearing. Seventy percent of each grant must be used to benefit low- or moderate-income persons, according to the Department of Community and Economic Development's Web site.

Although official numbers have not yet been presented to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, the county is anticipating around $410,000 in CDBG funds this year, according to Dan Wolfe, a community planner for the county.

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That figure is $75,000 less than what the county received in 2005, Wolfe said.

He noted that the county's funding decreased by about $11,000 from 2004 to 2005.

"Everybody across the nation is going to (get) cut in CDGB funding. There is no indication, as things have been presented, that things are going to go up," Wolfe said.

Two municipalities in the county, Chambersburg and Waynesboro, automatically receive funding each year from the CDBG program. The two are designated "entitlement communities" based on factors like average income.

"It's one of the few programs that exists that allows local government to put money back into community organizations," said Bill McLaughlin, president of the Chambersburg Borough Council.

Chambersburg has been awarded about $275,000, down from $305,376 last year.

Some $166,806 has been allocated to Waynesboro, which received $184,783 in 2005.

Erik Genga, who is Waynesboro's CDBG consultant through Mullin & Lonergan Associates, said he is "baffled each year" to see how the money is distributed among municipalities with similar populations.

Franklin County often distributes its CDBG money to its smaller municipalities. Money in the past has gone to Dry Run, for a water project, and Mercersburg, for sidewalk repair.

Cumberland County, Pa., has been awarded $1,552,938 for 2006. The county did not see significant cuts because it is an "urban county" based on population, said Tom Fields, community development director with the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development distributes CDBG funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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