Commissioners may shift Block Grant funding to Hill Road reconstruction

The Lycoming County commissioners will consider rebudgeting leftover Community Development Block Grant funding from 2014 to Washington Township’s Hill Road reconstruction project Thursday.

Kristin McLaughlin, of SEDA-Council of Governments, who handles block grant administration for the county, recommended Tuesday that the commissioners approve increasing Washington Township’s block grant funding to $46,654 from its current $2,700, a jump of just over $43,000.

“This will significantly close the gap for them on that project,” she said, adding that block grant funding can expire.

Jersey Shore also is seeking additional funding through rebudgeting for its Meadow Alley project, which addresses stormwater issues. McLaughlin is recommending $69,716 left over from 2017 and $63,787 from 2016’s award.

The borough is one of three municipalities which receives its own award from the state, outside of what is awarded to Lycoming County, McLaughlin said, so these funds aren’t coming from other municipalities.

“You’re essentially just giving them the money the state says is theirs,” she said.

Additionally, the commissioners will take action on a $1 million Community Development Block Grant competitive funding award to Franklin Township for the Lairdsville sanitary sewer construction project.

“They’ve been working on this for probably more than a decade,” she said. “Nothing moves quickly.”

In another matter, Jersey Shore resident John Shireman used the public comment period to ask the commissioners about potential recourse for the scenario which led one name to replace another on a mid-December agenda calling to fill an opening on the Planning Commission.

Last month, the planning department recommended Linda Sosniak, a Picture Rocks borough councilmember, to fill the opening as of a Tuesday commissioners meeting. However, at the subsequent Thursday meeting, her name was replaced by Joe Reighard, a Gamble Township supervisor, who was appointed to the seat 2-1.

Commissioner Tony Mussare addressed the issue at the time by apologizing to Sosniak and declaring, “…we as commissioners miserably failed to follow procedure on how we choose volunteers to our boards.”

In response to Shireman Tuesday, Mussare said:

“We (the commissioners) never communicated, and it’s the three commissioners who decide who goes on that board,” he said. “That was the issue, not who was appointed.”

In other business, the commissioners announced the Early Intervention Program report is near completion. They hope to present it to the public in partnership with program leaders during at least one evening before the end of the month.

Early Intervention is a strategic planning program through the state Department of Community and Economic Development that compares the county to other fifth-class counties, counties with similar revenue and counties with similar populations, then makes financial recommendations.

The commissioners hope to have a date set by their next meeting.

Commissioners Jack McKernan and Rick Mirabito also were present. Their next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in Executive Plaza.