Nearly 13 months ago, an administrator and a consultant for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program informed the West Penn board of supervisors of what could be done with a grant for up to $100,000 the township was receiving. Seven months ago, they advised the board that it was time to conduct an income survey to determine whether the township might qualify for future grants.
With the May deadline approaching for the survey to be finished, though, the board has done nothing to help secure future funding through the program and now has to rush to gather the data needed.
At last evening's supervisors meeting in the municipal building, the board discussed trying to get volunteers to go door to door, but the likeliest route the board will take, it agrees, is to send letters followed up by phone calls.
Township Engineer Ronald B. Madison, PE said he never saw these types of surveys work without going door to door. He said the board would be lucky to see less than half respond to the letter. The board, however, voted to set a limit for mailing costs at $1,000, for the amount of time left before the deadline limits their choices of actions in order to collect the income data.
Based on how many people live in a given household, the survey will look at whether the income is above or below a certain amount, which no board member at the meeting was sure of what that exact amount is.
The board said the CDBG program requires a sample of 90 percent of the township's households. West Penn is broken up into four villages: Andreas, Clamtown, Snyders and South Tamaqua, so he board was able to designate these smaller villages as the areas to sample rather than using the scope of the whole township, which would require a 90 percent return of every household's income.
This narrows the sample to 150 to 200 properties, according to Madison. They chose to do the survey this way "with the idea that they are probably the highest density of potential low to moderate income properties," Madison said, which would increase the township's eligibility for future grant funding.
One audience member suggested giving a stack of the surveys to the tax collector because every head of household in the township comes in after he or she pays his or her taxes, but the board said, although a great idea, it would be too late for that. "Now, we've lost our time frame. The window is closing," Vice Chairman James Akins said. "We're down to about two months to get it taken care of."
Lastly, Officer Glen Laninger was given a certificate of appreciation because he has been called to active duty. Chief Brian Johnson said the certificate expresses how dedicated his service has been to West Penn and also to his country. Laninger leaves Apr. 13 for deployment. Later in the meeting, the board also hired two part-time police officers to help fill Laninger's absence.
Next West Penn Township board of supervisors meeting will be on Monday, Apr. 1 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building.