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Connellsville: Authority takes limited action on city-owned house

| Thursday, Oct. 14, 2004

The Connellsville Redevelopment Authority Wednesday took limited action on the city-owned residential property at 203 W. Washington Ave.

The house has been appraised at $72,400 contingent upon a water leak from the lateral to the house being repaired.

Ralph Wombacker, executive director, said that the authority must sell the house, which the city received from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for $1, to a low-income to moderate-income individual or family and a first-time home buyer.

Wombacker noted that the income guidelines are $30,850 annually for an individual and $44,100 for a family of four. A first-time home buyer means that the buyer has not owned residential property in three years.

When the authority sold a home in the past, it offered the buyer 20 percent off the appraised price -- 10 percent for a down payment or repairs that would be forgiven at the rate of 1 percent a year for 10 years of continuous residence by the buyer and an additional 10 percent mortgage that would remain in the city's name, which would be returned upon the sale of the property or the owner's death.

Authority member Dexton Reed expressed concern about the authority "getting into the loan business."

Wombacker said that the deferred 10 percent mortgage has been collected in the past and "didn't bother anyone."

The proposed sale for $72,400 with a 20 percent total discount died for lack of a second.

Reed agreed that the 10 percent discount contingent upon 10-year occupancy was the only way to prevent the house from being subject to real estate speculation by the buyer; he suggested the house be sold for $62,400 with the 10 percent occupancy discount. Members took no action.

The board did vote to have the home inspected and to fix the water and turn on the utilities. If the cost of repairs exceeds $2,000, the board will have to authorize additional payment.

Once repairs are complete, an open house will be scheduled.

In other business:

= Ellen Kight, of the Department of Community and Economic Development, will meet with authority members, city council and the public to discuss the governor's economic stimulus package at 4 p.m. Oct. 22 in City Hall.

= John Varatti Cement received the $160,150.50 contract for sidewalk work on Ninth and Sixth streets. Wombacker reported that work should begin on or before Oct. 25.

= The Gibson House, owned by the Connellsville Area Historical Society, has received a Federal Enterprise Community Grant of $28,000 for a new roof, gutters, downspouts, installation of a handicap-accessible restroom and other restoration on the main floor.

= The authority will re-bid the 2002 Community Development Block Grant-funded demolition of four derelict properties. No contractor submitted a bid. The authority has a $19,400 budget for the total project.

= The Cameron Court project is nearly complete. At prior meetings, the authority authorized two payments, one for $11,785.50 and one for $10,084.50, both CDBG money, for the project. It is withholding $5,230 because the handrail at the steps has not arrived. When it has been installed, the authority will vote on final payment.

= The Church Place sewer project is nearly half complete. The authority initially authorized $13,723.82 and made a second payment of $30,592.18 of CDBG funds Wednesday.

= The authority authorized $3,912.96 in CDBG money for equipment needed by the Coke Center Radio Club to help with communication during disasters. The city authorized $4,000 for the equipment.

= Allegheny Power has completed the decorative streetlight installation on the West Side but has not yet sent a bill. The company is performing analysis on light levels before removing the streetlights currently located on power poles.

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