Pa. grant money still in the bank

October 11, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - More than $630,000 of grant money remains in the Borough of Waynesboro's coffers from as far back as 2003.

Chambersburg borough has an additional $230,000 in its community development block grant (CDBG) account, although that municipality's original allocations are typically 1 1/2 times more than Waynesboro's. Also, until 2005, Chambersburg was doling out large percentages of its CDBG money to local organizations.

The boroughs have not violated the terms of spending CDBG funds, although state guidelines tell recipients of the grants to spend them within three years.

In the same guidelines, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development says it does consider the timeliness of spending when allocating future grants.


"They should be trying to complete the project in three years," said Janel Miller, a DCED spokeswoman.

CDBG grants must primarily be used to benefit low- and moderate-income residents.

They may be used for housing rehabilitation, public services, community facilities and infrastructure improvement. Elected officials can reserve the money for municipal spending or distribute it to outside organizations.

Chambersburg signs five-year contracts with the state and ensures the block grants are "substantially spent" in three years, said Phil Wolgemuth, the director of borough planning.

"There are projects from time to time that extend that," Wolgemuth said.

However, there is no opportunity to go beyond the five years in the contract, he said.

The $9,000 left in Waynesboro's 2003 account must be spent by June 15, 2008, under that contract, Miller said.

Waynesboro officials said the CDBG money has been earmarked for projects put on hold for various reasons and will be spent.

"We spend the money. That's not a problem," said Lloyd Hamberger, manager of the borough that averages $3.9 million in annual expenditures.


Both Waynesboro and Chambersburg are repairing and resurfacing streets as well as creating handicapped-accessible curbs at intersections.

"We're going to spend $100,000 this year on handicapped curbs alone," Hamberger said.

Money is on hold for the Center Square redesign and improvements to CV Avenue connected to Turkey Hill Minit Market's development, Waynesboro Councilman Craig Newcomer said.

"Some of the money that isn't spent is large projects that we're awaiting approval from the state on," Newcomer said.

"It's all accounted for," he said. "It's all designated for certain projects."

The borough council denied outside funding requests in 2004 and 2005, turning down Helping Hands with Heart, Communities That Care and New Hope Shelter.

"We're working on some money for the homeless shelter," Hamberger said.

A major CDBG project in Chambersburg is phase one of Mike Waters Memorial Park on Second Street, Wolgemuth said.

Chambersburg also has $100,000 invested in its curb and sidewalk replacement program to provide loans and grants to low- to moderate-income residents, he said.

It has given money to Capitol Theatre, ESCAPE parent enrichment program and legal services in the past.

"Recently, the council has changed its plan and, in the past two or three years, focused on public works," Wolgemuth said.

Waynesboro and Chambersburg boroughs receive CDBG funding annually as so-called "entitlement communities."

Franklin County administrators also responded to The Herald-Mail's request for CDBG accounting.

The county has $4,000 remaining in its 2005 account to replace sidewalks in Mercersburg, Pa., and that funding should be spent in spring or summer of 2008, according to a letter from Daniel Wolfe with the Franklin County Planning Department.

The 2006 account has about $243,000 of $413,664 remaining in it, Wolfe said.

He listed specific projects and their status.

Hamberger, Waynesboro's manager, said he is proud of the borough's participation in the CDBG program.

"We're good stewards of the money," Hamberger said.

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