News Archive


Township Supervisors Receive 2020 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence

Tuesday October 27th, 2020

Yesterday (October  26, 2020), the state Department of Community and Economic Development recognized municipalities and local government officials for their dedication and commitment to strengthen their communities and better serve their residents.   

The following township supervisors were recognized: Michael E. Keller, former supervisor and PSATS Board member, Fox Township, Elk County, and Stephen Hurni, supervisor of Plainfield Township, Northampton County, and immediate past president of the PA Association of Councils of Government. For the full list of award recipients, click here.  

“At DCED, we often say that Pennsylvania is the best place in the world to live, work, and play—and that’s because of our local communities,” said Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis Davin. “These projects represent what is best about Pennsylvania — our resilience, creativity, and strength. From combating blight to promoting healthy lifestyles and helping those at risk for hunger, to using technology to improve government services, to fighting the opioid epidemic — these are just some of the ways our community leaders are giving back, and we are proud to commend them all for those efforts.” 



Virtual Summit Scheduled for PennDOT “Every Day Counts”

Tuesday October 27th, 2020

The Every Day Counts Round Six Summit will be held virtually December 8-10 beginning live each day at 1 p.m. The seven innovations featured during the summit include strategies to increase engagement with people, new applications of products to preserve and repair infrastructure, and improved processes to save time on project delivery and incident management. The event will feature an Innovation Showcase Pavilion that will highlight ideas under development across the country. Click here to learn more or to register. Click here to learn more about the Every Day Counts program.  

 



PA Supreme Court Says Ballot Signatures Need Not Match

Monday October 26th, 2020

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled unanimously that counties are prohibited from rejecting mailed ballots if the voter’s signature does not resemble the signature on the voter’s registration form.  

The court concluded that, “The Election Code does not authorize or require county election boards to reject absentee or mail-in ballots during the canvassing process based on an analysis of a voter’s signature on the “declaration” contained on the official ballot return envelope for the absentee or mail-in ballot. We, therefore, grant the Secretary’s petition for declarative relief and direct the county boards of elections not to reject absentee or mail-in ballots for counting, computing, and tallying based on signature comparisons conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third-party challenges based on such comparisons.” To read the opinion, click here.  

 



DCNR Announces Grant Awards for Streamside Buffers

Monday October 26th, 2020

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has announced grant awards of $673,700 from the Keystone Fund to support the planting of about 93 acres of streamside (riparian) buffers in the commonwealth. Grant awards will pay for plantings in Centre, Chester, Clinton, Huntingdon, Lancaster, Lehigh, Lycoming, and Northampton counties. Click here for more.  



It’s Budget Season! Do You Need Township Salary and Benefits Information? We Have You Covered!

Monday October 26th, 2020

Did you know that the PSATS Salary Survey Plus allows you to compare your employees’ wages with those of similar townships and view statewide averages with just a few clicks? Did you know that you can compare benefit information as well, even by region, population, or similar budget size? This valuable and secure PSATS service is available when you need it and is brought to you by hundreds of participating townships!  

If you already participated, thank you! We could not do this without you. Your township supervisors, manager, secretary, and other township-designated officials can access the results at their convenience. To make the most of the Salary Survey Plus platform, click here for a quick guide to help you pull the data you need. 

For access, log in to connect.psats.org and look under “My PSATS Account” for a Salary Survey Plus link. Have trouble logging in or don’t see a link under “My PSATS Accounts”? Email memberservices@psats.org.  

Looking for results? Click here for a quick guide to help you pull the data you need. 

Need to change who enters data for your townshipEmail memberservices@psats.org or call (717) 763-0930, ext. 112.  

 



PENNVEST Awards Loans, Grants

Thursday October 22nd, 2020

Gov. Tom Wolf announced $181 million in loans and grants for 16 water, wastewater, and non-point source projects across 12 counties through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST). Several township and municipal authority projects received funding, including Warwick Township, Lancaster County. Warwick Township received a non-point source grant of $556,730 to install an efficient manure removal and transfer system at a farm which will eliminate 1,914 pounds of sediment, 8,887 pounds of nitrogen, and 3,852 pounds of phosphorus annually, improving Hammer Creek, a tributary to the Cocalico Creek and Chesapeake Bay. For the full list of awards, click here

 



Oxycontin Settles with Justice Department for $8 billion in Opioid Crisis

Thursday October 22nd, 2020

The U.S. Justice Department has announced that it has reached an $8 billion settlement with the marker of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharma, for its role in the nation’s opioid crisis. The settlement resolves investigations into how Purdue Pharma marketed its painkillers, including kickbacks to doctors. Some state attorneys general don’t believe the deal goes far enough. Click here to read more from NPR.



More Help for Firefighters…Robots!

Thursday October 22nd, 2020

The nation’s first robotic firefighting vehicle was debuted at the Los Angeles Fire Department today, which was put to work on its first day on the job. The Thermite RS3 is a compact, industrial robotic firefighting vehicle capable of flowing 2,500 gallons per minute and is controlled remotely. The RS3 can assist with safe interior fire operations on large commercial fires, wood-framed structures under construction, structural defense at wildfires, and fuel tanker fires, while reducing risk for firefighters. The robot costs roughly $277,000. For more, including videos of the robot, click here

 



Townships Eligible for USDA Grant Program

Wednesday October 21st, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for its Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program. Townships with populations of 20,000 or less are eligible for the program. Funds may be used to purchase essential community facilities, equipment, and related project expenses. Examples of eligible projects include town halls, street improvements, community centers, public safety services such as police, fire, and public works, libraries, and food banks.  

The current interest rate for loans is 2.125%. Loans, grants, or a combination are available. Priority for funding is for communities with a population of 5,500 or less and low-income communities with a median household income below 80% of the state non-metropolitan median household income. To learn more, click here. If you have questions or to apply, contact the Pennsylvania Rural Development Office at (717) 237-2299. 



MPOETC Publishes Overhaul of Municipal Police Training Regulations

Monday October 19th, 2020

The Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission published a proposed comprehensive rewrite of the regulations for the Municipal Police Officer Education Act in the October 17, 2020 issue of the Pennsylvania Bulletin. This extensive rewrite is intended to replace the existing regulations.  

Comments on the proposal may be submitted by November 16, 2020 to Sergeant Leslie Barr, Policy and Legislative Affairs Office, State Police, by mail at 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110 or by e-mail at lesbarr@pa.gov. Please copy PSATS with any comments to Holly Fishel at hfishel@psats.org. PSATS is reviewing the draft and will submit comments. To view the proposed regulation, click here.



DCNR Offers Online Workshops About Grant Opportunities

Monday October 19th, 2020

Don’t miss the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ free online grant workshops to learn about the Community Conservation Partnership Program, as well as land acquisitions, community park planning, community park development, and trails.  

Attendees will receive in-depth information on projects eligible for DCNR grant funds, how to develop a competitive application, learn about matching funds, learn about the eGrants application process, and much more! Workshops will be held Wednesday, November 4 for the eastern third of the state, Thursday, November 12 central Pennsylvania, and Tuesday, November 17 for the west. Each workshop runs from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Click here for more! 



PA WalkWorks Expands Network of Walking Routes

Friday October 16th, 2020

WalkWorksa collaboration of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh to increase opportunities for physical activity through safe, fun, fact-filled walking routes in communities across Pennsylvania, is inviting organizations interested in improving the health of their residents to join its network of 100 walking routes by completing a brief application. A limited number of partners will be added to the network during this cycle. 

Interested townships may apply by November 13. Applicants will be asked to identify a walking route, including points of interest, collaborate with community organizations to encourage walking, and organize a kick-off celebration. Selected organizations will receive technical assistance with route selection, guidance for physically distanced walks, and promotional materials and signage for the walking route. Click here to apply. Completed applications must be returned to PAWalkWorks@pitt.eduClick here to learn more.



Love Trails? DCNR Seeking Applicants for 2021 PA Trails Advisory Committee

Wednesday October 14th, 2020

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is seeking applicants for five open positions on the 2021 Pennsylvania Trails Advisory Committee. Three of these seats are at-large, one must be associated with a snowmobiling user group, and one is for people with disabilities. Members would serve a three-year term beginning January 1, 2021. For more about the committee or how to apply, click here.  

 



COVID-19 Fire and EMS Grants Announced; Rules Revised

Friday October 9th, 2020

The Office of State Fire Commissioner will be awarding $50 million in grants to volunteer and paid departments under Act 26 of 2020, which provides COVID-19 funding for fire and EMS. The list of awardees is available here. These one-time grants are funded by the state using the federal CARES Act. 

In addition, grant guidance was updated to incorporate new federal rules that will allow funding to be used to replace money lost due to fundraisers that had to be canceled because of the pandemic. Only nonprofit volunteer fire, rescue, or EMS companies are eligible for this use; combination or career departments are not eligible. To view the new grant guidance, click here. For more information about this program, click here

 



Can Advertised Virtual Meetings Still Violate the Sunshine Act?

Friday October 9th, 2020

The Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas recently issued a decision in McGrath v. Board of School Directors of City of Scranton, which involved a school board's violation of the Sunshine Act and Act 15 of 2020.   


At the meeting in question, the school board furloughed 218 employees and terminated their health insurance coverage. The only public notice for the meeting stated that the meeting would be conducted virtually through Zoom and the public could view the meeting on the district's YouTube channel. Prior to the start of the meeting, the district learned that the YouTube livestream was inoperable but proceeded with the meeting anyway. During the meeting, the district began to livestream the meeting on its Facebook page but did not communicate that to the public. It also posted copies of the meeting after the fact. 
 
The judge held that the furloughed employee satisfied her burden of proving that the school board and school district violated Sections 702, 704, and 710.1 of the Sunshine Act and Sections 5741(c) and (f) of Act 15 of 2020 and was entitled to an order temporarily enjoining the school board's actions to furlough and terminate health insurance. The court held that the "public had a right to observe the Board's virtual meeting on September 14, 2020, and to be furnished with advance public notice of the technology to be used to witness that meeting" and that "no member of the public was able to observe the meeting in real time by way of the technology identified for public viewing in the only public notice." 
 
While the decision applies only to the parties involved, it serves as a reminder that township officials must allow the public to view or hear public meetings, including virtual meetings. While townships have the ability to conduct meetings virtually and limit the number of physical attendees at public meetings to comply with the commonwealth’s gathering limits, the public must be notified of how to access the meeting and be able to do so. 



U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Provides Resources

Friday October 9th, 2020

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has educational materials and tips to help you enhance cybersecurity in your township. This includes cybersecurity awareness and best practices, telework guidance, and assessment of current practices. To learn more, click here.  



FEMA Now Accepting Applications for Supplemental Firefighter Grant 

Tuesday October 6th, 2020

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing a second opportunity for both volunteer and combination volunteer/paid fire departments to apply for $31 million in funding under the Fiscal Year 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. FEMA will directly award funding for personal protective equipment and other supplies to support COVID-19 response.  

FEMA is accepting applications until November 13, 2020.  Fire departments that already applied or received funding in this round are eligible to apply again. Please note that you must submit a new application for this round of funding. Click here for more information. Click here to apply.  

 



DEP Offers Grants for Diesel Vehicles

Monday October 5th, 2020

The state Department of Environmental Protection has two funding opportunities for diesel vehicles through the Driving PA Forward Initiative. Townships are eligible to apply for these programs. 

The Truck and Bus Fleet Grant Program is accepting applications for projects to replace or repower eligible diesel-powered Class 4-8 trucks, school buses, shuttle buses or transit buses. Applications are due November 13Click here to learn more.  

The Onroad Rebate Program is accepting applications for projects that will replace or repower eligible diesel-powered Class 4-8 trucks, school buses, shuttle buses or transit buses. The new vehicles or engines may be powered by natural gas, clean diesel, full electric, or other alternative fuels. Interested townships should apply before December 31.  Click here to learn more. 



PennDOT Virtual Innovation Week - November 2-6

Friday October 2nd, 2020

PennDOT is hosting the first-of-its-kind Virtual Innovation Week for federal, state, and local government transportation representatives from across Pennsylvania. Join us for this transportation innovation sharing event to learn about and discuss innovative solutions being implemented at the state and local levels.

Choose from 10 different FREE virtual presentation sessions over five days, featuring primarily PennDOT and local government speakers, focusing on innovative topics including:

· Pavement & Bridge Preservation

· Technology & Digital Project Delivery

· Innovative Maintenance Techniques, Tools & Materials

· Innovative Design Approaches

· Multimodal Planning

· Traffic & Safety Planning/Management

View the complete schedule and visit the event website for more information. Each session will include a facilitated question/answer period following each presentation. Register before October 23, 2020 to reserve your seat!

Register Today!

 

Virtual Exhibit Hall

Learn about even more innovations by browsing a Virtual Exhibit Hall, featuring a variety of innovative equipment, materials, applications, and technologies used by federal, state, and local agencies that can help you do your job safer, better, faster, and save money. A contact form is available for you to connect with exhibitors and learn more about their innovations. Exhibits will be added over the next several weeks, so check back frequently to see what is new!



PennDOT Extends Expiration Dates for CDL Licenses 

Thursday October 1st, 2020

The state Department of Transportation has extended expiration dates for commercial driver’s licenses and commercial learner’s permits through November 29, 2020. This applies to CDL licenses and learner’s permits that were scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020, through November 29, 2020. Please note that the extension deadlines on non-commercial driver’s licenses, photo identification cards, learner’s permits, and camera cards expired on August 31. Click herefor more information.  



PFBC Accepting Municipal Applications for Boating Facility Grant Program

Thursday September 24th, 2020

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is offering Boating Facility Grants to help communities capitalize on the surge in new boating activity. Townships and other municipalities may apply for these grants, as well as certain nonprofits, by December 30, 2020.  

The program is designed to help local governments and nonprofits improve public recreation boat access facilities in their communities that are open and available for general use. Applications will be accepted from anywhere in Pennsylvania, however special consideration will be given to projects that provide boating access in the Delaware River watershed. Click here for more information. 

 



New Grant Funds for Emergency Preparedness

Wednesday September 23rd, 2020


The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) just announced that this year’s FEMA 2020 Non-Disaster Mitigation Grants application will be open from September 30 to November 18, 2020. The two grant programs covered by this announcement include a new grant, the Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC) grant, which replaces the earlier FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant and has $500 million available in competitive grants. The second program, the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant, will have $160 million available in that national application competition. To start the grant application process for the BRIC and/or the FMA grant, potential applicants MUST submit the required Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Letter of Interest (LOI) by October 15, 2020; this non-contractual but required form can be found HERE.



Columbia Gas, Northeast Gas Association Offer First Responder Training

Thursday September 17th, 2020

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania and the Northeast Gas Association are offering a free, self-directed online training that provides emergency response personnel with the information they need to safely identify and respond to natural gas incidents. The course was developed in partnership with local fire chiefs and training professionals. 

Columbia Gas is offering a $1,000 grant or in-kind contribution for the fire department with the most course completions by December 14, 2020, in each of the four Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania service territories. Click here to learn more. 

 



PennDOT Resumes Issuing REAL ID

Thursday September 17th, 2020

The state Department of Transportation has now resumed issuing REAL IDs at reopened driver license centers throughout the state. REAL ID remains optional in Pennsylvania. However, federal law requires REAL ID beginning October 1, 2021, as identification to visit a secure federal building or to board a commercial flight. Click here for more. 

 



Grants Available to Address Community Violence

Friday September 11th, 2020

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency is accepting grant applications designed to reduce or prevent community violence. The State School Safety and Security Grant Program has $7.5 million that will be made available to eligible applicants, which includes municipalities, counties, institutions of higher education, and community organizations. Applications are due November 10

Past grant awards included a wide range of projects, from neighborhood-based violence interventions to dating violence prevention and youth mentoring. This year, applications will be prioritized that intend to use evidence-based or evidence-informed programs to reduce or prevent community-based violence in areas identified with high-violent crime rates. This does not preclude other applications. Maximum grant awards are $300,000, and projects may take up to two years. Click here to learn more. 



PennDOT Accepting Multimodal Grant Applications

Wednesday September 9th, 2020

The state Department of Transportation is now accepting applications for a new round of Multimodal Transportation Fund grants. Applications are due November 6, 2020. Townships and councils of governments may apply for these grants. Awards will be made next year and funded in July 2021.  

Projects that will be considered should coordinate local land use with transportation assets to enhance existing communities; improve streetscape, lighting, sidewalk facilities, and pedestrian safety; improve connectivity or use of existing transportation systems; or advance transit-oriented-development. Click here to learn more.

 



Townships May Apply for Alternative Fuels Grants

Tuesday September 1st, 2020

The Energy Programs Office of the state Department of Environmental Protection is accepting grant applications under the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program to improve the air quality in Pennsylvania and reduce consumption of imported oil through the use of homegrown alternative fuels. The department is seeking applications for innovative, advanced fuel and vehicle technology projects resulting in cleaner advanced alternative transportation within the commonwealth until December 11, 2020.  

Townships, school districts, municipal authoritiesandnonprofit and for-profit entities may apply for approximately $5 million in grants. The funds may be used to retrofit or purchase a vehicle to operate on alternative fuels as a bi-fuel, dual-fuel, hybrid, or dedicated vehicle and to purchase and install fleet refueling equipment. Funding priorities are for zero-emission vehicles, renewable natural gas vehicles and infrastructure projects, and publicly accessible alternative fuel projects. Click here for more information.  



PennDOT Invites Students to Solve Transportation Funding Challenge

Thursday August 27th, 2020

Students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate in the state Department of Transportation’s PennDOT Innovations Challenge, which encourages students to solve real-world transportation challenges in a competition with their peers. Submissions are due December 18. 

This year’s challenge asks students to develop an innovative and implementable solution that helps address Pennsylvania’s transportation revenue shortfall by identifying new funding streams, other than additional gas taxes, tolls, or mileage-based user fees, to help ensure adequate transportation funding for the future. Regional winners will be selected and invited to compete for a state championship, where a combined total award of $5,500 will be divided among the top three teams. To learn more about the Innovations Challenge, click here.  



Pick Up Pennsylvania Litter Campaign Begins September 1

Wednesday August 26th, 2020

The “Pick Up Pennsylvania” campaign of litter cleanup events will take place September 1 through November 30. The state Department of Environmental Protection, the state Department of Transportation, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, and other partners are sponsoring the program.

Organizers of registered events can get free trash bags, gloves, and safety vests from DEP, PennDOT, Keep America Beautiful, GLAD Products Company, and the Ocean Conservancy while supplies last. Cleanups can take place in any location, including roadsides and parks. Families, civic organizations, and local governments are invited to participate. Volunteers must take proper steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including limiting the size of outdoor groups to 250 or less and indoor groups to 25 or less, as well as wearing masks and practicing social distancing. For more information, click here



FEMA AnnouncesHazard Mitigation Assistance Application Period

Tuesday August 11th, 2020

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that applications for $660 million in hazard mitigation grants will open on September 30 and it will accept applications through the FEMA Go Portal until January 29, 2021. These programs are the Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant and the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program.  

FEMA strongly encourages applicants to participate in a series of informational webinars to learn about the grant programs and application and review process. The first webinar will be held next Tuesday, August 18, at 2 p.m.  

To learn more about these programs, including webinar information, click here

 



COSTARS Salt Contract Details Now Available

Monday August 10th, 2020

The state Department of General Services has announced that the 2020-2021 sodium chloride contract has been awarded and is now posted in eMarketplace. Participating townships should click here to access the contract details and then search under parent contract #’s 6100045558, 6100045971, and 6100048201. COSTARS expects to send an official email notice to all participating members this week with the county map, awarded suppliers, price per ton, and other details. 



Contact County Commissioners for Deadline to Access CARES Dollars

Thursday July 30th, 2020

The federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act that was signed into law on March 27, 2020, provided a $2 trillion economic relief package aimed at helping our state and local governments, families, and businesses recover from the negative public health and economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 disaster.

7 counties got a direct allocation from Congress. The state’s 2020-2021 budget allocated $625 million in CARES funds as block grants to the remaining 60 counties to offset some of the costs their municipalities incurred for response and planning efforts (including PPE costs), and to deploy broadband to unserved or under-served areas of the state. Eligible expenditures must be incurred during the period from March 1, 2020, through December 30, 2020.

Townships in all 67 counties are reminded to contact their county commissioner’s office promptly to determine when the deadline is to submit your application to receive such funds. 



Turnpike Tolls to Increase in January 2021

Wednesday July 22nd, 2020

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission confirmed its movement to 100% cashless operations with approving a 6% toll increase for EZPass rates systemwide and establishing rates for the new PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE program. Rates for toll facilities newly converted to TOLL BY PLATE will increase by an average of 45 percent to reflect the costs for the new method. The rate changes will take effect on January 3, 2021. 

This means that the most common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.50 to $1.60 for E-Z Pass customers and from $2.50 to $3.90 for those choosing TOLL BY PLATE. The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor-trailer will increase from $12.20 to $13 for E-ZPass and from $17.30 to $26.60 for PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE customers.  

“The primary driver of the annual toll rate increases continues to be our quarterly transit payments to PennDOT and the resulting debt service that comes along with the legislatively mandated funding obligation,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “As a result, the PA Turnpike has delivered almost $7 billion in funding to PennDOT in the last decade, primarily to support mass transit operations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.” 

Compton said the commission’s debt service costs on outstanding Act 44 bond debt are $440 million annually and growing; this amount must be paid each year even if the commission seeks, and is granted, deferment of a quarterly Act 44 payment — as it recently did to partially offset revenue impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more.  



2019 Common Level Ratio Released for Realty Transfer Tax

Tuesday July 7th, 2020

The state Department of Revenue has released the real estate valuation factors compiled by the State Tax Equalization Board in 2019, which are the mathematical reciprocals of the actual common level ratio (CLR). For Pennsylvania realty transfer tax purposes, these factors apply to documents accepted from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. Click here to view the 2019 CLR from the Pennsylvania Bulletin



NATaT Releases Rural Grant Guide

Friday May 15th, 2020

The National Association of Towns and Townships has released an updated Rural Grant Guide for local governments. The guide identifies potential funding opportunities to support community development, broadband, water and wastewater projects, and more in rural communities. The guide focuses on federal grant opportunities that typically reoccur.  

The guide is a valuable resource for townships in rural areas looking for grant and loan resources. Click here to access the guide.