Tamaqua's CDBG (community development block grant) program will continue this year, however, it is most likely facing a drastic reduction in funding. According to information from PSAB (Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs), received in March, the CDBG budget could be slashed as much as 62.5%. Although the funding has been steadily decreasing over the past few years, this substantial cut represents the largest cut to the program since its initiation. Last year, the borough received $146,000 through the program.
Eighteen per cent of the available funds can be used to defray administrative costs, including the salaries of the borough's housing rehabilitation officer and administrative assistant. "We always have more projects than money," said borough council president Micah Gursky, during the first public hearing that was held to discuss potential projects.
Council members tossed around several ideas for projects; however, no decisions were made at this time. Ongoing maintenance of the Wabash Tunnel was one proposal. Recreation and youth committee chairman David Mace said that the borough has received a grant agreement from the Morgan Foundation for a new slide to be installed at the Bungalow, however, additional funds would be needed to complete the project.
Councilman Tom Cara said that after the completion of the streetscape program and the upgrades to route 309, only two signal arms in the town are still of the old style. He asked if the borough could consider upgrading them to match the new signal arms that were installed recently.
Council also discussed upgrades to the sidewalk in the area of the Calvary Church, which is located on West Broad Street, and houses an adult daycare facility. "That church is used hard by the seniors and the handicapped," said Councilman Ken Smulligan. "The sidewalks and curbs are in terrible shape." However, due to the fact that the building is a religious building and privately owned, it is not eligible for any funding.
"We'll need to see what the allocation will be, if there is going to be any and then have another hearing," said Gursky. "In the meantime, if there are any ideas for projects, give them to the borough manager, Kevin Steigerwalt."