ALERT: Pa. Supreme Court Blocks Disclosure of Public School Employees' Home Addresses
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that public school employees have a constitutionally protected right to privacy in their home addresses. In Pennsylvania State Educ. Ass’n ex rel. Wilson v. Commonwealth, the court conducted a balancing test and determined that the public interest in obtaining the home addresses did not outweigh the public school employees’ right to privacy.
In its ruling, in which it reversed the Commonwealth Court’s decision, the Supreme Court stated that nothing in the Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) suggests that “it was ever intended to be used as a tool to procure personal information about private citizens or, in the worst sense, to be a generator of mailing lists.” While the court called the legislature’s goal laudable to make more, rather than less, information available to public scrutiny under the RTKL, it stated that the “constitutional rights of the citizens of this Commonwealth to be left alone remains a significant countervailing force.”
While this case technically only addresses public school employees, the analysis applies just as forcefully to requests for information on other public employees or even citizens who have provided their information to agencies.
The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors filed a brief last year in which it argued that the Supreme Court should reverse the Commonwealth Court’s decision because of the financial and administrative burdens that decision would place on agencies.
Nominate Your Township Project for Local Government Excellence Award
Has your township and/or its officials found creative ways to improve your community? Consider nominating an innovative project for the 2017 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence.
Townships may nominate projects in the following categories:
• Building community partnerships
• Responding to adversity
• Promoting community/economic revitalization
• Innovative community/governmental initiatives
• Fiscal accountability and best management practices
• Innovative planning and sound land use practices
• Intergovernmental cooperation
• Information technology
• Health and wellness initiatives
Townships must submit a narrative about the project that includes:
• The name of the nominated township and county, any other participating municipalities and their counties, and a contact person’s name, street address, phone number, and email address.
• The applicable category from the list above.
• A description of the project.
• An explanation of how the project resolved a problem, addressed a need, or improved the community. Provide quantifiable results, if available.
• A list of everyone who participated in the project and how they helped.
The deadline for nominations is December 1. To learn more about the judging criteria for each category, view past award winners, and submit a nomination, go to dced.pa.gov/lgawards.
Free Workshops and Webinars Explain DCNR Grant Program
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society, is offering workshops and webinars to explain the Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2). In addition to the grant program, these free workshops will cover land acquisition, community park planning and development, and trails.
The C2P2 grant program’s application period will open in early January 2017 and close mid-April 2017.
The workshops will explain:
• eligible projects;
• developing a competitive “ready-to-go” application;
• matching fund requirements and other funding sources; and
• the eGrants application process and the documents required for each project type.
Following are the dates and locations for the workshops:
NOV 2 Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell
NOV 3 Giant Food Store Community Room, Camp Hill, Cumberland County
NOV 9 Luzerne County Community College, Nanticoke
NOV 10 Penn Stater Hotel and Convention Center, State College, Centre County
NOV 16 Park Inn Radisson Hotel, Clarion, Clarion County
NOV 17 Upper St. Clair Community Center, Upper St. Clair Township, Allegheny County
Workshops will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration begins at 9 a.m. To register, go to http://events.dcnr.pa.gov.
Following are the dates and titles of the webinars:
DEC 15 DCNR’s Statewide and Regional Partnership Grant Program
JAN 11 DCNR Grants for Locally Based Recreation, Conservation, Trail, and Riparian Buffer Projects
JAN 18 Making Community Parks Sustainable, Fun, and Functional Through Green Infrastructure
JAN 25 DCNR Grant Stewardship Responsibilities
FEB 8 Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program
The webinars will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. For more information about the webinars or registering, contact Jim Young at (717) 783-2713 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application Period Open for FEMA Firefighter Grants: Deadline is Nov. 18
Fire departments and emergency services organizations may apply for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). The deadline for applications is November 18.
Eligible applicants include fire departments, non-affiliated emergency medical services organizations, and state fire training academies.
Three types of grants are offered through the program. Applicants may file under multiple categories, which include:
• Operations and safety, including training, equipment, personal protective gear, wellness and fitness programs, and facility modification to enhance safety;
• Vehicle acquisition, with high priority given to non-transport, non-affiliated EMS vehicles for community paramedic services; and
• Joint/regional projects, which are large-scale projects for any number of AFG-eligible organizations.
All AFG grantees are subject to cost-share requirements based on population, and matching funds must be cash. Population categories and the required match are as follows:
• Populations under 20,000: 5 percent of the grant total;
• Populations between 20,000 and 1 million: 10 percent of the grant total; and
• Populations greater than 1 million: 15 percent of the grant total.
For more information, go to www.fema.gov/assistance-firefighters-grant or call the AFG help desk toll-free at (866) 274-0960.
PSATS Resolution Accomplished: Salt Brine is Now Liquid Fuels Eligible!
Townships may now use liquid fuels funds to purchase equipment to make, store, and distribute salt brine as part of winter maintenance activities, under a new provision in PennDOT Publication 447. Approved road salt material must be mixed with potable water to a 23.3 percent salt solution to create the brine.
The new rule also allows municipalities that make salt brine to sell it to other municipalities.
For more information, contact your PennDOT district Municipal Services office or Tom Welker in PennDOT’s Central office at email@example.com or (717) 783-3721.
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.