EAST BRADY – For the first time in several years, East Brady Borough is considering not applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in 2019.
After attending a recent county-wide CDBG meeting, East Brady Borough Council president Barb Mortimer said last week that she and borough secretary Susan Buechele wondered whether it would be feasible for the borough to apply for the grant this year.
The CDBG is a federal grant that is governed by local counties to provide “communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.” Distribution of funds is based on the project itself and the financial eligibility of the community.
“Our project, of course, is First Avenue, which we know is a large project and we were not funded for before,” Mortimer told borough council members at their July 2 meeting. As part of the project, the borough was seeking grant funding to replace sewer lines along First Avenue, while the borough simultaneously replaces the water lines. “...We actually had to turn down money one time because we didn’t get enough money [for the project]. It’s just an expensive project.”
Mortimer said that previous CDBG projects completed along Purdum and Grant streets and Second Avenue had depleted the borough’s water and sewer reserves.
“We were wondering if it would maybe be better to not apply for anything this year...and go a couple of cycles without applying to build up our water and sewer reserves again,” she said. “With the money we have and what it would cost us, we really can’t afford to apply.”
Another glitch for East Brady in the CDBG application process, Mortimer explained, is the fact that the borough recently lost its low-to-moderate income (LMI) level status. Because of this, East Brady is not eligible to apply for CDBG funding as a whole for at least four years when another income survey is conducted.
“You have to be 51 percent to be LMI, and we’re at about 47 percent,” she said, noting that the only shot the borough would have at CDBG funding for this year would be to determine if the area for the proposed project itself is classified as LMI. “We’d have to do an income survey, and there’s no guarantee.”
Borough secretary Susan Buechele, added that the borough would have to further prove that any work completed along First Avenue would only affect residents on that street.
According to borough officials, East Brady has received a total of $1.6 million in CDBG funding.
“That’s the most in the county,” Buechele said.
Even if East Brady didn’t apply for grant money in 2019, Mortimer said that the borough still has two CDBG-funded projects — including work to a storm sewer along Lehner Drive and at the playground — to be completed next year that were approved from previous grant cycles.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Mortimer added. “Maybe by the time the LMI survey is conducted again we’ll have enough money to do First Avenue. Let’s hope.”
Also during last Tuesday’s meeting, borough officials unanimously agreed to proclaim September as “Foodstock Month” in East Brady. The action was taken in response to a letter from the Clarion Area Chamber of Business & Industry requesting the declaration.
According to the Clarion Chamber website, Foodstock is a county-wide program running in conjunction with the Allegheny Toyota Autumn Leaf Festival. The purpose of the program is to collect non-perishable, non-expired food items that will be collected throughout the month of September. It will then be taken to a distribution center in Clarion, where all the food collected will be re-distributed to all Clarion County food banks.
“The food is put together and then distributed equally between all the municipalities,” Mortimer explained. “We always come back with more food than we went with.”