by Jonathan Weaver
Armstrong County communities relying on county Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to pay for much-needed improvements should be alert.
Armstrong County as a whole will receive its lowest allocation of CDBG funds – administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development – in more than 25 years (since 1990).
For fiscal year 2016, Armstrong will receive more than $242,500 in federal funds, but that figure doesn’t include more than $43,000 that will be utilized by County planners for administration cost. That deduction leaves about $199,000 available to municipalities not already entitled to block grant funds.
County Planning and Development Assistant Director Carmen Johnson noted the gradual decline during the past few years all projects are geared to benefit low-to-moderate income residents – which leads community leaders to distribute income surveys in possible improved neighborhoods.
“Within the last 32 years, the County has received an excess of $9.5 million to do different projects countywide. We have done various projects – Most of the priorities have been water and sewage projects,” Johnson said.
Armstrong County received its most CDBG funds during the 1995 fiscal year – more than $375,000. That funding allowed the County to fund eight projects.
After being declared “economically distressed” more than 30 years ago, and with a population of more than 4,000 people calculated during the 2010 census, East Franklin Township, Manor Township, Kiskiminetas Township and Kittanning Borough leaders received allotments averaging more than $85,000.
The City of Parker also receives an allocation each year regardless of population.
The county’s application due date is the week before Thanksgiving (November 18), but county commissioners are expected to make a decision about allocations in September.
In the past, commissioners have also reallocated funds if projects are completed under-budget.
Municipalities can also compete for up to $750,000 in statewide discretionary CDBG funds.
After receiving about $1,400 more in 2015 funds, commissioners allocated dollars toward the second phase of an ADA ramp improvements project in South Bethlehem and water line replacement along Arthur Street and North Crescent Avenue in West Kittanning Borough.
County planners are currently accepting engineering quotes for the South Bethlehem Borough project – with includes the installation of nearly two-dozen concrete ramps – until August 19.