News Archive


Beef Up Your Buffers: Grants Available

Thursday January 23rd, 2020
Need help installing riparian buffers? The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is accepting applications thorugh its Riparian Forest Buffers program. The deadline for applications is April 22.
 
Eligible activities include landowner outreach, buffer design, site preparation and buffer installation, plant materials and tree shelters, and short term maintenance (within the four-year grant period).
 
Projects can propose conventional or multifunctional (income-producing) riparian forest buffers.
 
Multifunctional buffers refer to a riparian forest buffer that includes both native riparian forested trees and shrubs as well as harvested products such as berries, woody florals, biomass, etc.
 
The multifunctional buffer concept was designed to appeal to a broader set of landowners, provide greater program flexibility, address long-term maintenance issues, and allow landowners to reap a modest income from their buffers.
 
Additional specifics about the concept are provided on DCNR's buffer webpage.
 
All buffers must include a minimum 15-foot-wide no-harvest zone next to the streambank of native tree and shrub species (zone 1) with additional acreage dedicated to conventional or multifunctional buffer plant species (zones 2 and 3).
 
Applicants are strongly encouraged to implement an average buffer width of at least 35 feet. 
 
Applicants who undertake a buffer project must be willing to enter into a landowner agreement with each participating landowner for a minimum of 25 years. The agreement will address maintenance requirements among other considerations.
 
The minimum grant award is $50,000, and a 50/50 match is required. DCNR reserves the right to negotiate with applicants on the final award amount, acreage, and scope of work.
 
DCNR service foresters will be available to provide technical assistance and advice on communications and outreach efforts, buffer design and species selection, and maintenance practices; they can also participate in partnerships and watershed-level projects.
 
Visit DCNR’s Buffer webpage for more information on forest buffers, including multifunctional buffers.
 
For more information and details on how to apply, visit DCNR’s Grant Opportunities webpage.
 


DEP Accepting Applications For Host Municipality Waste Inspection Reimbursement Grants

Wednesday January 15th, 2020
Attention, townships with landfills or resource recovery facilities
 
The state Department of Environmental Protection is now accepting applications for 2019 Host Municipality Inspector Program reimbursement. The deadline for applications is March 31(Jan. 4 PA Bulletin)
 
Reimbursements are available to any municipality that has a municipal waste landfill, resource recovery facility, or commercial hazardous waste storage, treatment, and disposal facility located within its geographic borders.
 
DEP will award reimbursements for authorized costs incurred for the salary and expenses of up to two certified host municipality inspectors. The reimbursement shall not exceed 50% of the approved costs of salaries and expenses.
 
Reimbursement is available only for inspectors trained and certified by DEP. Funding for this program comes from the Recycling Fund. DEP will accept only electronic applications
 
Questions about this program should be directed to Laura Henry, DEP, at lahenry@pa.gov or (717) 772-5713.
 
To learn more about the program, visit DEP’s Host Municipality Programs webpage.


Applications Being Accepted for Keystone Historic Preservation Grants

Thursday January 9th, 2020
Upcoming PHMC webinar explains guidelines and application process
 
Townships with historic resources that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places may apply for a Keystone Historic Preservation Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). Applications are due March 2.
 
The grants support projects that identify, preserve, promote, and protect historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania.
 
Townships that would like to learn more may register for a free webinar January 22 at 2 p.m. Click here to register online. The recorded webinar will be available on PHMC's YouTube channel after January 24.
 
Two types of grants are available:
 
Planning grants fund planning and development initiatives that enhance historic preservation in communities. These may include municipal planning initiatives focusing on historic resources or may be used to meet building or project-specific planning goals. Project grants range from $5,000 to $25,000 and require a 50% match.
 
Construction grants fund rehabilitation, preservation, and restoration activities for publicly accessible historic resources that are under nonprofit or government ownership. Grants range from $5,000 to $100,000 and require a 50% match.
 
Grants will be awarded through a competitive selection process and are contingent upon availability of funds. Applications must be submitted through the state's Single Application for Assistance
 
For more information, go to the grants and funding page on PHMC's website. Townships may also call Karen Arnold at (717) 783-9927 or email kaarnold@pa.gov.


Honor a Preservationist or Historic Preservation Project

Thursday January 9th, 2020
Do you know of a preservationist or historic preservation project in your township that merits recognition? Nominate them for one of Preservation Pennsylvania's 2020 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards
 
Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Awards continue a tradition started in 1979 to honor excellence in preservation. The annual awards recognize significant contributions in the field of historic preservation made by both individuals and organizations. The Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards are presented annually by Preservation Pennsylvania.
 
Award nominations are due Monday, February 3, 2020. For more information, contact Melonie Babich, Advocacy & Development Assistant, mbabich@preservationpa.org or (717) 234-2310, ext. 4.


Deadline Approaching for Leadership Award Entries

Thursday January 9th, 2020

Nominations are due by January 31

Do you know a township supervisor, secretary, or manager who lives and breathes community service? Who brings the highest standards of dedication, creativity, and leadership to his or her role in local government?

With your help, that person could be honored with PSATS’ 31st Annual President’s Leadership Award.

Township supervisors, secretaries, and managers who held office or were employed in 2019 and will be in the position at the time of the award presentations in May can be nominated by any official of the same township or by an officer of their county association of township officials. Candidates may be nominated for recent or lifetime achievements that have significantly improved their township.

Examples include cost-cutting, coordination of a major local effort, the advancement of township goals in the state or federal legislature, the establishment of new local services or programs, and the successful implementation of local development projects. 

Any supervisor, secretary, or manager who was nominated previously but did not win may be nominated again. PSATS Executive Board members and board-appointed trustees are not eligible.

Entries will be judged on the complexity of the problem(s) addressed; measurable improvements resulting from the accomplishment; use of original, innovative, or creative approaches and solutions; and long-term benefits of the accomplishments.

The deadline for submitting entries is January 31, 2020.

Two winners will be selected: a township supervisor and a township secretary or manager. Each winner will receive an engraved plaque during the Excellence Awards Ceremony at PSATS’ Annual Educational Conference May 3-6, 2020, in Her­shey and coverage in the Pennsylvania Township News. We will also notify their local newspapers.

Click here to download a brochure and nomination form. For more information, call Brenda Wilt at PSATS at (717) 763-0930, ext. 123 or email bwilt@psats.org.



Pennsylvania Declared ‘StormReady’ by the National Weather Service

Monday January 6th, 2020
Pennsylvania has become the sixth state in the nation to achieve StormReady status from the National Weather Service, which recognized the commonwealth for this achievement in November.
 
The designation means that all 67 counties in the state have met the criteria to be StormReady and have plans in place to handle all types of extreme weather, from tornadoes to winter storms. The national program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.
 
To be officially StormReady, a county must:
 
• Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
 
• Have more than one way to receive severe-weather warnings and forecasts and alert the public;
 
• Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally;
 
• Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and
 
• Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe-weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
 
Because status requirements are based on population, each county is given the flexibility to adapt the program to meet the unique needs of its citizens, from rural to urban.
 
The first counties in Pennsylvania to achieve StormReady status were Bradford, Cambria, Lehigh, and Lycoming in November 2000. Forest became the final county in October 2019. The other five states obtaining the designation are Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.
 
With all 67 counties now declared StormReady, municipalities, schools, businesses, and others across Pennsylvania are also encouraged to adopt policies to be similarly prepared.
 
More information about the program is available at ready.pa.gov/pages/stormready.aspx.


Show Off Your Road Crew’s Ingenuity in the Build a Better Mousetrap Contest

Thursday January 2nd, 2020
Has one of your township employees recently built an innovative gadget or come up with a better way to do a job? If so, now is the time to show it off by entering the 2020 Build a Better Mousetrap Competition. The deadline for entries is March 6, 2020.
 
PennDOT is looking for projects that municipal employees or road crews designed and built. It can be anything from the development of tools and equipment modifications to processes that increase safety, reduce costs, or improve efficiency or the quality of transportation.
 
The contest accepts entries in four categories, with a potential winner in each. From among these winning entries, an overall contest winner will be chosen. The categories are: 
 
1) Inspection and data collection, such as automated/remote means, testing, time, etc. 
 
2) Asset management techniques, such as GIS, mapping, decision support systems, etc.
 
3) Maintenance tools and methods, such as lifters, reachers, modifications, assembly, etc. 
 
4) Transportation facilities improvements, such as storage, access, operations, services, etc.
 
If you have a project that you think is worthy of recognition, submit your entry by March 6. PennDOT will choose winners in March and announce them at the annual conference of the winners’ respective local government associations. Entries will be judged by a committee of municipal road employees on cost savings/benefits to the community, ingenuity, transferability to others, and effectiveness. 
 
The winning entries will be submitted into the national competition for prizes and, of course, bragging rights. Winners of the national competition will be announced at the annual LTAP/TTAP national conference next summer. All entries at the national level will be posted on the LTAP/TTAP website and compiled into an electronic booklet.
 
To download entry forms for the 2020 Build a Better Mousetrap Competition, go to gis.penndot.gov/ltap/ and look under “Bulletin Board.” Complete the entry form and return it by March 6 to PennDOT-LTAP, c/o PSATS, 4855 Woodland Drive, Enola, PA 17025 or email it to katkinson@psats.org. For more information, call Karen Atkinson at (717) 763-0930, ext. 156.


It's Radon Action Month: Urge Your Residents to Test Their Homes

Wednesday January 1st, 2020
January is Radon Action Month, and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is urging homeowners to test their homes for radon. This colorless, odorless chemical is present in all 67 Pennsylvania counties and is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the United States.
 
According to DEP, Pennsylvania has one of the most serious radon problems in the United States. About 40 percent of Pennsylvania homes have radon levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action guideline of 4 picocuries per liter.
 
The best time to test for radon is in the winter months, when homes are closed and radon levels are at their peak. Home testing kits may be purchased at most hardware and home improvement stores for about $20 to $30.
 
Township officials should be particularly aware of radon-resistant new construction techniques used to seal soil gas entry points, prevent radon gas intrusion, and vent the radon outdoors. DEP says that when adopted in local building codes, these measures can greatly reduce radon exposure to the home’s occupants, as well as any future buyers of the property.
 
DEP can help townships by providing radon experts and information about testing and mitigation companies and radon control methods that can be adopted through the International Residential Code. For more information, go to www.dep.pa.gov and search “radon.”


IRS Issues 2020 Mileage Rate

Tuesday December 31st, 2019

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today issued the 2020 optional standard mileage rates (PDF) used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on January 1, 2020, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 57.5 cents per mile driven for business use, down one half of a cent from the rate for 2019,
  • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down three cents from the rate for 2019, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The business mileage rate decreased one half of a cent for business travel driven and three cents for medical and certain moving expense from the rates for 2019. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

Source: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-standard-mileage-rates-for-2020



Get Help with Energy Projects from Two Funding Programs

Wednesday December 18th, 2019
The Sustainable Energy Fund Program provides grants and loans for energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.
 
Four funds were created as a result of the restructuring plans of five electric companies in Pennsylvania. To be eligible, projects must reduce energy consumption of non-sustainable resources or generate energy from sustainable resources.
 
Eligible projects include such improvements as solar photovoltaic and wind energy systems, lighting retrofits, HVAC upgrades, and building envelope enhancements.
 
The five funds and their contact information are:
 
• PECO — solutions.peco-energy.com/newincentives; toll-free hotline (844) 424-9728, smartideasbiz@peco-energy.com.
 
• PPL Electric Utilities — www.pplelectricbusinesssavings.com; toll-free (866) 432-5501, PPLEUBusinessSavings@pplweb.com.
 
• Metropolitan Edison Company — bccf.org./sustainable-energy-fund; Berks County Community Foundation, (610) 685-2223, Heidi Williamson, heidiw@bccf.org.
 
• Penelec — cfalleghenies.org/grants; Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, (814) 536-7741, Angie Berzonski, aberzonski@cfalleghenies.org.
 
• West Penn Power — www.wppsef.org; wppsef@ems.psu.edu.
 
The Sustainable Energy Finance Program provides legal and technical assistance and low-cost capital for energy improvement projects in municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals, collectively known as the MUSH sector.
 
Under the program, a partnership between the state treasury, the private sector, and leading nonprofits in the energy industry, participants receive free energy audits from energy service companies. Once potential projects have been identified and the entities decide to proceed, a bond is issued to finance the work. The energy cost savings from the projects are used to finance the bond.
 
Energy service companies that wish to participate in the program must pre-qualify and agree to a common set of legal terms and performance standards for project design, savings guarantees, compliance verification, and corrective actions if necessary.
 
Any energy conservation measures, including solar generation, energy storage and microgrids, or water conservation measures that generate savings sufficient to pay for themselves are likely to be eligible.
 
Examples of such measures include lighting; building envelope improvements, such as windows and insulation; HVAC systems; advanced building controls; water saving measures; and cogeneration facilities, solar generation, energy storage, and microgrids.
 
For more information, go to freefutures.org/pennsef/participating/, call (215) 494-7383, or email contact@freefutures.org.


Land Trust Association Soliciting Nominations for Conservation Leadership

Wednesday December 18th, 2019
Has your township exhibited leadership and success in conserving open space and natural resources? If so, nom­inate it for one of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association’s 2020 Conservation Government Leadership Awards. The deadline is January 31, 2020.
 
The contest is open to any Pennsylvania municipal or county government that has demonstrated leadership and vision in permanently conserving open space and valuable and unique land and/or water resources.
 
Eligible programs or activities include land use planning and regulations, resource protection strategies, and land or easement acquisitions.
 
Recognition can be based on the work of a local government, multigovernment partnership, commission, or board but must be sanctioned by the governing body or bodies.
 
Awards will be presented during the 2020 Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference April 1-3 in Gettysburg.
 
For more information or to nominate your township, go to conserveland.org/governmentaward, call PALTA at (717) 230-8560, or email Nate Lotze at nlotze@conserveland.org.


FREE Webinars Explain DCNR C2P2 Grant Programs

Tuesday December 17th, 2019
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will host two webinars at the beginning of 2020 to explain aspects of the department’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program (C2P2), which provides funding for recreation and conservation projects. Applications will be accepted January 15 through April 22, 2020.
 
The webinars and their topics are:
 
• Jan. 29: DCNR Grants for Recreation, Conservation, Trail, and Riparian Buffer Projects. Those who were unable to attend one of the in-person workshops in the fall are encouraged to register for this webinar, which will cover the same material.
 
• Feb. 19: DCNR’s Statewide and Regional Partnership Grant Program. This webinar will discuss grant funding for public recreation, conservation, or heritage-area initiatives undertaken across a statewide or regional landscape.
 
For more information on registering for the webinars, call Jim Young at (717) 783-2712 or email jwyoung@pa.gov. Online registration is required; go to events.dcnr.pa.gov.


Energy Assistance Available for Rural Communities

Tuesday December 17th, 2019
Rural townships may apply for grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program.
 
Grantees use the funds to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers with renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, energy audits, renewable energy technical assistance, and energy site assessments.
 
The deadlines for the various grant levels are as follows:
 
• Energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grant: January 31, 2020.
 
• Grant or guaranteed loan/grant combination of $20,000 or less: March 31, 2020.
 
• Unrestricted grant or guaranteed loan/unrestricted grant combination: March 31, 2020.
 
For more information and applications, go to www.rd.usda.gov/pa or contact Amanda Hope in the Pennsylvania Rural Development Office at (717) 237-2289 or amanda.hope@pa.usda.gov.


Nominate Your Transportation Project for the Road and Bridge Safety Contest

Wednesday January 2nd, 2019
Did your township complete an outstanding road or bridge project in 2019? If so, you have until March 6 to enter it in the 38th Annual Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Contest.
 
Sponsored by PSATS, the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association, and the state Department of Transportation, the contest recognizes townships for their extensive contributions of time and effort to making roads and bridges safer for motorists, pedestrians, and other travelers.
 
Eligible projects include safety improvements initiated and completed in 2019 or ongoing projects begun in 2019. Entries must involve visible improvements, such as guide rail or stop sign installation, road widening and resurfacing, bridge improvements, or clearing brush from a road curve where poor sight distance has resulted in accidents. 
 
Education programs, stricter speed limit enforcement, and drunk driver programs, while contributing to traffic safety, are not eligible for this contest.
 
Entry forms for the contest were mailed to townships and Township Engineers Association members in January. The completed form must be sent to PennDOT by March 6.
 
Winners will receive their awards at PSATS’ Annual Educational Conference in May and be the subject of a Township News article.
 
For more information or additional entry forms, call Brenda Wilt at PSATS at (717) 763-0930, ext. 123 or email bwilt@psats.org. Townships may also download a brochure.