The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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June 18, 2014

McClure only Snyder municipality to seek block grant money

MIDDLEBURG — Only one Snyder County municipality is requesting Community Development Block Grant funds, and it may be due to more stringent application rules.

Glenda Ruch, project coordinator at SEDA-Council of Governments, said the county receives $225,000 annually from the federal grant program, which provides funding to support housing rehabilitation, public services, community facilities and infrastructure improvements in income-eligible neighborhoods.

In the past several years, she said, the program has received requests for funding from five to 10 projects costing more than $600,000 in Snyder County each year.

That’s why when only one municipality, McClure, applied for $94,500 to complete the second phase of a sewer upgrade, Ruch was taken aback.

She said part of the reason may be due to the new requirements imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which administers the CDBG program, that applicants must provide a professionally obtained cost estimate of the project for which they are seeking funds to ensure eligibility.

The new requirement means the applicant process is costlier and more time consuming.

Though a budget has always been required, Ruch said, SEDA-COG would work with municipalities on developing a cost estimate to include in the application.

“We have an issue (with the new requirement), but DCED calls the shots,” she said.

Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz said the good news is that the board has focused on improving infrastructure and several projects have been completed in the past seven years.

He expects more communities will request funds again next year after they have more time to prepare.

“I’ll be brainstorming with the commissioners to provide guidance to municipalities” on the process, Ruch said.

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