I write in response to a Sept. 13th article on the Summit Hill building project, "What's the status of the S.H. building grant". In the article, the reporter points fingers at state officials, including myself, and suggests that we are somehow holding up state grant money for the project.
Before accusations such as these are made, I think a little more care should be taken in gathering all of the facts.
Quite simply, my office has been working with the borough and with the Governor's office for some time to try to resolve the situation and to obtain the state funds. As with any application for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding, the applicant is obligated to ensure that the contractor hired follows all state laws and regulations. Until all aspects of the contract are fulfilled, the money cannot be disbursed. I've had numerous conversations with borough officials on this issue.
Summit Hill was approved for RACP funding and a majority of it has been disbursed. Problems arose with state reimbursement, however, because the contractor hired to install the HVAC did not pay prevailing wages. Since that time, the borough not only has had to pay additional costs due to the poor craftsmanship of the contractor and subsequently terminated its contract due to inadequate performance, but also has had to hire an attorney to deal with the legal issues surrounding the project.
I give the borough credit for diligently pursuing the necessary steps to secure the paperwork from the contractor that is needed to fulfill the requirements of the RACP funding application. On my part, I continue to work with the Governor's office to try to secure the release of the funds for the borough. As I communicated to the Governor's office, this is a unique situation, which the borough has sought to rectify and one that could create a financial hardship for the borough and its residents. I've asked the Governor's office to provide any and all assistance it can to my office and the borough to resolve the situation.
Had I been contacted as the Sept. 13th article was being researched and written, I would have shared this information with the reporter. In the simplest terms, no one is intentionally holding up the release of state funds. These funds cannot be released until legal issues are resolved, but the borough is not alone in its efforts to make this happen.
Keith R. McCall