‘Budget neutral” isn’t a phrase often tossed around with a $4 million renovation project, but that is now a possibility in Northumberland County thanks to a state grant.

The Northumberland County Courthouse Reconstruction Project received a $1.5 million grant through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) last week. The funds will go toward Phase I of the project, including exterior restoration, ADA-compliant ramps, work on the bell tower and under-the-hood work like electrical and HVAC.

Because of the grant secured with the help of state Sen. John Gordner and state Reps. Lynda Schlegel Culver and Kurt Masser, and smaller matching grants, county leaders said the project may be able to pull off with matching numbers on the bottom line.

“When this first started, we were hoping for a million-dollar grant,” Commissioner Chairman Sam Schiccatano said.

“We’re just excited (Gordner, Culver and Masser) were able to come up with $1.5 million for the project. That will definitely help along with the money saved on the prison project and the land sale. There is a very good chance this will become budget neutral and will have no impact on our budget moving forward. That will be a great help for the people of the county.”

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. More important, RACP projects are state-funded projects that cannot obtain primary funding under other state programs.

According to a 101-page feasibility study, if county officials opt to tackle everything inside the report, the entire project will cost about $4 million. 

Being able to pull a project of that magnitude without raising taxes in the current climate is quite a feat. 

Using taxpayer dollars through competitive grant processes is a way to get the money where it is needed and to those in need who are organized and prepared. Grant applications of this magnitude need to be done with a certain amount of finesse critical to the process. The work county officials put in ahead of the submission paid off. 

“I want to recognize the Northumberland County Commissioners for their hard work on this application for critical grant funding,” said Gordner. “Gov. Tom Wolf saw the merit in their action and authorized the release of key RACP funds.”

In doing so, an important piece of Northumberland County history, a courthouse that has been operational for more than a century and a half, will have a new future.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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