Help for Small Water, Sewer Systems Available
The Commonwealth Finance Authority will accept applications for the Pennsylvania Small Water and Sewer Program from August 1, 2016 through October 31, 2016. Eligible projects include those with a total cost between $30,000 and $500,000 that will construct, improve, expand, repair, or rehabilitate a water supply or sanitary sewer system owned and maintained by a municipality or municipal authority.
A 15 percent cash match of the total project cost is required. Click here for more information. Note: this website works best in Google Chrome.
26 Grants in 25 Days Up for Grabs from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB) is accepting applications for the 25 Grants in 25 Days Program that will award 25 grants of up to $1,000 for community improvement projects, including planting natives, restoring habitats and parks, cleaning up rivers and communities, providing recycling opportunities at special events, and much more.
The award program is open to tax-exempt groups across the state. Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. August 15, 2016.
Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful will announce a new award every day for 25 days via social media from September 1 through September 25. Accepted projects require a 50-percent match and must be completed by April 30, 2017.
“We started this program last year as a way to celebrate the volunteers, communities and organizations that have contributed so much over the past 25 years to our shared mission of building clean and beautiful communities,” KPB President Shannon Reiter says. “The program created so much positive change in so many communities that we are offering it again this year.”
This project is funded by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, with partial support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
For inspiration, additional requirements, and an application, visit www.keeppabeautiful.org and click on "Grants and Awards."
Does Your Township Have Hidden Treasure?
Several townships have discovered money that was due to them through the Pennsylvania Treasury’s unclaimed property website.
The Township News tried a search by simply typing “township” in the company name field, and a long list popped up. Many PSATS member townships have money just waiting to be claimed.
While exact amounts are not listed — unclaimed funds are simply categorized as under or over $100 — quite a few townships have more than a hundred bucks sitting in the state treasury with their name on them.
Townships should also try searching under "road," "treasurer," "police," or any other department they may have.
To check the website, go to www.patreasury.gov and click on “Unclaimed Property” at the top of the page. You just might find some township treasure!
Join in National Night Out on August 2
Townships are encouraged to plan community activities to observe the National Association of Town Watch’s 33rd Annual National Night Out on Tuesday, August 2.
In addition to the traditional vigil of turning on porch lights, many communities also sponsor block parties, parades, police visits and demonstrations, neighborhood flashlight walks, safety fairs, contests, and youth activities.
Townships that are interested in sponsoring National Night Out events should register with the National Association of Town Watch to receive a free planning kit, including sample news releases, artwork, and a promotional guide.
To register, call the association toll-free at (800) NITE-OUT (648-3688) or go to www.nationalnightout.org and click on the link for registration.
ICYMI: Top 5 Q's about Fireworks
Top 5 Questions about Fireworks
Q: One of our residents brought us a permit with the title “official state fireworks permit.” The resident says that a township official just needs to sign this permit for him to purchase fireworks from a Pennsylvania vendor. Is this true?
A: No. There is no such state permit. PSATS recommends that the township not sign such a permit because there are additional legal requirements that the resident must meet before the township may issue such a permit.
Q: May townships issue permits for fireworks displays?
A: Yes. The state Fireworks and Explosives Act of 1939 authorizes municipalities to issue permits to individuals or groups for displays of fireworks. This law also allows townships to adopt reasonable regulations for permitted displays.
Q: If our township issues a fireworks display permit, what requirements must the applicant meet before the permit may be issued?
A: Under the state Fireworks and Explosives Act of 1939, the township must, at a minimum, 1) verify that the person applying for the permit is a competent operator; 2) require the operator to provide a bond of at least $500 (a minimum bond of $1 million is suggested); and 3) direct the township’s designated official to inspect the display site before issuing a permit. In addition, the individual applying for the fireworks display permit must comply with the International Fire Code depending on the type of firework they wish to purchase. If so, they would need to apply for a display permit from the township’s building code official.
Q: If an operator has registered with the state Attorney General’s Office to present a fireworks display, does he also need a permit from the township?
A: Yes. A local display permit is needed even if the operator has registered with the state. As noted in the previous question, the operator may need to obtain a fireworks display permit from the building code official because provisions in the International Fire Code may apply to their professional display.
Q: Must applicants for fireworks display permits comply with both the State Fireworks Law and applicable provisions of the Uniform Construction Code?
A: Yes. Please keep in mind that the State Fireworks Law requirements are in addition to the requirements in the International Fire Code.
The Pennsylvania State Police are a great resource on fireworks: http://www.psp.pa.gov/public-safety/Pages/fireworks-safety.aspx
Set Up Winter Road Service Agreements with PennDOT By July 31
Townships that want to renew or establish winter road service agreements with the state Department of Transportation should notify their PennDOT district maintenance office now. For agreement renewals, the cutoff date for a municipality to legally withdraw in writing is July 31.
Under these agreements, which can have terms of up to five years, PennDOT pays municipalities an upfront annual lump sum to remove snow and ice from state roads from October 15 to April 30. PennDOT pays a winter severity adjustment at the end of the season, depending on how the winter compares to PennDOT’s five-year average historic cost.
PennDOT must approve all contracts before townships begin this winter maintenance.
To determine if PennDOT’s reimbursement rate will cover expenses, townships should look at the costs of purchasing salt, anti-skid materials, and other supplies and providing equipment maintenance, labor, and overhead.
Townships should also consider the legal ramifications of entering into such an agreement and review these contracts with their solicitor.
Twelve percent of state roads are maintained through service agreements with townships and other municipalities.
For more information, including other agreement mechanisms and options, call your PennDOT district maintenance office.
Funding for Alternative-Fuel Vehicles Available
Townships that want to purchase or convert vehicles to natural gas or other alternative fuels may apply for funding through DEP’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program. The deadline for applications is August 26.
Grants are available for the conversion or purchase of natural gas vehicles, as well as the conversion or purchase of electric, propane, or other alternative-fuel vehicles of any size.
This year, there is no gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) limit and no minimum number of vehicles required to apply for a vehicle purchase or retrofit reimbursement.
Grants are also available to fund the purchase and installation of refueling infrastructure for alternative-fuel fleet vehicles. This category includes two options:
• Fleet refueling projects must service an existing fleet of at least 10 alternative-fuel vehicles weighing up to 26,000 pounds GVWR, and
• Home-based refueling projects must be located at the base of operations for one or more alternative-fuel vehicles weighing up to 10,000 pounds GVWR.
For more information and application guidelines, go to http://bit.ly/1tymqMl.
Grants Help Townships Increase Tree Cover
Townships that want to increase the tree cover in their community can apply for grants from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) TreeVitalize Program.
TreeVitalize planting grants are available for projects with a strong volunteer base. Applicants must have the assistance of their local DCNR service forester and/or Penn State Extension forester in developing a planting plan. The forester’s signature is also required on the application.
Interested townships should begin by contacting their local DCNR or Extension forester, who can provide necessary guidance about grant opportunities, as well as native species and sustainable projects.
Applications must be submitted by email or postal mail by September 15.
For more information and a grant application, go to www.treevitalize.net and choose “TreeVitalize Applications” in the column on the left. The applications page also contains a link to DCNR and Penn State Extension forester contacts.
Townships may also contact Jessica Cavey, development and grants coordinator, at (717) 599-8650 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PennDOT Unveils New Transportation Funding Brochure
A new publication from PennDOT, in coordination with the Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP), provides information on available transportation funding for municipal and county-owned roads and bridges, as well as other community improvement initiatives. The brochure includes information on district Municipal Services units, liquid fuels and other state allocations, federal funding, grant and reimbursement programs, and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank and other loan programs.
The brochure also provides up-to-date contact information for PennDOT Municipal Services representatives and financial consultants, and identifies regional representatives for the state's 24 metropolitan and rural planning organizations. These organizations provide a forum where local decision makers identify opportunities and make informed choices about the programming and implementation of transportation projects and services.
To view and download the funding brochure, go to http://tinyurl.com/zuz4a9a.
Brighten Up Your Township With a Fresh Paint Days Grant
Townships that want to spruce up their community may apply for the 2016 Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania grants from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.
The month-long program, which kicks off in September, provides eight awardees and their volunteers with up to 20 gallons of exterior paint and a gift card for painting supplies to renew a structure in need. The event is held in partnership with Glidden Professional and The Home Depot.
Townships and any other tax-exempt groups in Pennsylvania are eligible, and only one building per application is allowed. Applicants must also provide proof of liability insurance, signed permission to paint from the building owner, and two before photos of the intended project. Selected awardees must also agree to provide a final report with during and after photos of the project.
The application deadline is July 31, and grants will be awarded in mid-August.
For more information or to download the application, go to www.keeppabeautiful.org and click on the “Grants and Awards” section. Additional information is also available by contacting Michelle Dunn, Fresh Paint Days Pennsylvania program coordinator, toll-free at (877) 772-3673, ext. 113, or email@example.com.
Since 1990, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and its volunteers have removed more than 113 million pounds of litter from the commonwealth’s roads, greenways, parks, forests, and waterways.
Attention MS4s: DEP Summer Workshops Will Help Navigate Revised General Permit
Additional dates announced
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold full-day training workshops at three remaining locations this summer to help new and existing municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) with changes to the MS4 NPDES General Permit, also referred to as a PAG-13.
A reissued PAG-13 General Permit is expected to become effective in March 2018, and notices of intent (NOIs) are due from most MS4s in September 2017. MS4s will need to begin preparing applications soon to meet this deadline.
The workshops also apply to MS4s that will need to submit applications for individual MS4 NPDES permits.
The workshops are scheduled as follows (each session will be held on two consecutive days; participants only need to attend one):
• July 19 or 20 -- Best Western Plus Country Cupboard Inn, Lewisburg, Union County
• July 25 or 26 -- Best Western Premier, Harrisburg, Dauphin County
• August 10 or 11 -- Cranberry Township Municipal Center, Cranberry Township, Butler County
A separate announcement will be forthcoming about additional workshops to help new and existing MS4 permittees prepare stormwater pollution reduction plans, which must be completed and submitted with the NOI or permit application.
The official registration form and payment must be received by DEP via mail 30 days before each workshop begins. Seating is limited to 50 participants for each workshop, and there is a $50 registration fee, which includes lunch. To download a registration form, go to http://bit.ly/1WuzA96.