April’s Local Government Week Gives Townships the Opportunity to Shine
Mark your calendars to celebrate Local Government Week, April 14-18. The observance is a perfect opportunity for townships to promote strong, independent, and active local governments and recognize the valuable contributions made by those who serve their communities in public office.
For ideas on how to celebrate Local Government Week, see Page 50 of the February 2014 issue of the Pennsylvania Township News.
Townships: Claim Fuels Tax Refunds by March 31
Townships need to claim their 2013 liquid fuels tax refunds by March 31. The refund, issued by the Pennsylvania State Treasury, covers the tax paid on liquid fuels as follows:
- 31.2 cents per gallon on gasoline and
- 38.1 cents per gallon on diesel fuel.
To receive the refund, townships must submit statements or receipts showing the number of gallons purchased, type of fuel, price, purchase dates, and amount of tax paid. Submissions must be postmarked by March 31.
For more information or to request a refund claim form, call the state Board of Finance and Revenue at (717) 787-2974.
Change to Special Hauling Permit Allows Travel Seven Days a Week
The transportation funding bill enacted in Pennsylvania this past November included a change in language for the Special Hauling Permit for oversized vehicles.Now, a properly permitted oversized vehicle, combination, or load may travel seven days per week. Before the change, such vehicles could operate only five days per week.
The PennDOT Bureau of Municipal Services notes this change could have several impacts at the local level:
- Residents may notice larger escorted vehicles traveling on the weekends;
- Municipalities may receive permit requests for weekend moves; and
- Application for special event permits (for craft fairs, parades, and similar events) will have to be made through PennDOT to avoid hauling conflicts.
Townships should direct any questions to Tom Welker, Bureau of Municipal Services, at email@example.com or (717) 783-3721.
Local Govs Invited to Participate in Weather Exercise to Test Emergency Readiness
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is encouraging all municipalities to take part in the 2014 Spring Hazardous Weather Emergency Preparedness Exercise May 12 and 13.
This exercise is designed to test the readiness of all participating counties, municipalities, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers, and other community organizations.
This year’s event will coincide with the National Guard’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise, which will test the Guard’s ability to support a civilian response to major emergencies.
The focus will be on emergency operations center management, communications, emergency public information and warning, military support to civilian authorities, and critical resource logistics and distribution.
Townships should also contact their county emergency management coordinator to coordinate their participation in the exercise.
Local emergency management agencies can be found here or in the telephone book under the “Local Government” section.
For more information, contact your county emergency management agency or Aaron Rhone, PEMA, at (717) 651-2714, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PennDOT Funding Available for 'Transportation Alternative' Projects
PennDOT is now accepting applications for funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program. The application deadline is April 4, 2014.
This federal program offers local governments and others funding opportunities to expand transportation choices. Funding is provided for programs and projects defined as “transportation alternatives” in federal legislation, including on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, community improvement activities, environmental mitigation, recreational trail projects, and safe routes to school projects.
Eligible projects could include sidewalks, bike lanes, wide paved shoulders, off-road trails, rail trails, pedestrian signals, traffic calming, lighting, bicycle and pedestrian education for grades K-8, scenic overlooks, and historic preservation of historic transportation facilities.
The TAP Application form, TAP Program Guidance, and additional information is available here.
If you are interested in applying, please carefully read through the TAP Program Guidance document on PennDOT’s website, as it covers project eligibility, sponsor eligibility, funding, project selection criteria, regulatory requirements, funding round schedule, and other important subjects.
Projects will be selected based on the degree to which the application addresses all selection criteria outlined in the TAP Program Guidance. To speed project implementation, PennDOT will place emphasis on projects that will be ready for construction by September 30, 2016. Projects with complex right-of-way, utility, environmental, public support, or other issues that would add cost or delay delivery will score lower and are less likely to be selected. Another key criterion will be reasonableness of cost.
Townships May Comment on Chesapeake Bay Draft Agreement until March 17
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program is seeking public comment by March 17 on the next draft of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.
This agreement sets the stage for how the states and the EPA will work toward restoring the Bay.
PSATS, as a member of the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Local Government Advisory Committee, has been a leading proponent of increased flexibility for local governments to meet the many Chesapeake Bay restoration mandates.
We were able to include language in this new draft agreement that requires any strategies mandating local government action to identify the actions, tools, or technical support local governments will need to meet those mandates. However, we were NOT able to have "financial support" included.
This is the perfect opportunity for townships and other local governments to comment that additional state and/or federal funding is necessary to help local governments meet these mandates.
Click here to view the draft agreement. (See page 11 for the local government text noted above.)
This new draft agreement also recognizes for the first time that local efforts must be prioritized. (See page 5 of the draft.) This is another item for local governments to comment on. It's a common-sense initiative, as local governments have limited funds and cannot be expected to do all things at once.
You can provide comments on this draft agreement in three ways:
- Submit an in-person comment at the March 13 meeting of the Management Board, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in EPA's Annapolis office.
- Submit an online comment (up to 750 words).
- Email your comments to email@example.com.
Please note: All comments, emails, and letters submitted to the Bay Program about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement will be posted for public review.
If you have questions on this matter, please contact James Wheeler, PSATS, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-763-0930. If your township submits comments, please provide Mr. Wheeler with a copy.
Sign Up for COSTARS Salt Contract by March 15
Townships should start thinking now about next year's winter weather and road safety. Get started by signing up for the COSTARS road salt contract, which has helped more than a thousand municipalities cut their costs and guarantee adequate supplies.
Townships have until March 15 to complete the program’s 2014-2015 Salt Participation Agreement, which is posted on the COSTARS members page. Under the contract, the state Department of General Services will secure more than 1 million tons of salt this year for the state Department of Transportation and local governments.
[Note: While only registered members may participate in the commonwealth’s salt contract, it takes just minutes for townships to sign up for COSTARS, the state’s cooperative purchasing program. To learn more, go to the COSTARS website or call toll-free (866) 768-7827.]
To participate in next season’s salt contract, townships must fill out a simple one-page document that can be completed and submitted electronically.
Although legally binding, the contract has built-in flexibility. For example, participants are obligated to purchase only 60 percent of their stated needs but may buy up to 140 percent at the contracted price. Townships may use liquid fuels funds to purchase the materials.
DGS goes to bid in the spring and awards the salt contracts, by county, in July. The contract is posted on the COSTARS website in early August.
For more information, call toll-free (866) 768-7827.