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Westmoreland municipalities may see slight increase in CDBG funds

| Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, 9:15 a.m.

Community Development Block Grant program money that municipalities receive has gone down consistently during the past five years.

“We've seen a 30 percent reduction in funds received over the past five years,” said Bert Getto of the Westmoreland County Planning Commission. “That just reflects the changes in priorities at the federal level.”

Getto recently met with representatives from Mt. Pleasant Borough and Mt. Pleasant, East Huntingdon and Donegal townships to discuss CDBG allocations and uses.

The CDBG program is overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The new CDBG funding cycle runs from 2015 to 2017. Getto said there are not any noticeable changes to the program.

“There really aren't any significant changes in priorities, but the major change right now is that the 2010 census figures are out and available to the communities to use to identify low- and moderate-income areas,” he said.

The CDBG program requires that any funds received by a municipality be used on projects that benefit areas where low- to moderate-income residents make up the majority.

Projects that qualify include infrastructure projects, some road repairs, stream reconstructions, updating or enhancing of recreational areas and installation of culverts, among others.

Jeff Landy, Mt. Pleasant Borough manager, said the borough used the funds in the past for projects such as street paving, the installation of bathrooms at Willows Park and the installation of decorative street poles.

Getto said although overall CDBG funding has gone down, local municipalities' allocations for the next three years have increased.

Mt. Pleasant Borough will receive $149,157 to use over three years; Mt. Pleasant Township will receive $242,319; Donegal Borough will receive $19,458; Donegal Township will receive $52,316; and East Huntingdon Township will receive $167,056.

Getto emphasizes these are target allocations and not hard and fast.

“If the community comes up with a really good project, we'll work with them to make the project doable,” he said.

Landy said borough council hasn't discussed what projects it may want to finance with this round of funding.

Rachel Basinger is a contributing writer.

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