Blake Announces Nearly $5 Million State Funding for Local Projects

HARRISBURG, March 29, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced nearly $5 million dollars in state grants for important community and economic development projects throughout the 22nd Senatorial District.

The funding, approved earlier today by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA), includes over $2.7 million in grants to projects in Lackawanna County from the state’s Local Share Account (LSA) program and Act 13 funding.

“I was proud to work with my colleagues in Harrisburg to assure this significant investment of state funding into communities throughout NortheasternPennsylvania.” Blake said. “These state dollars are vitally important to local municipalities; they support economic growth; and they provide positive, long-term impacts in the quality of life for our residents.”

Blake said that he worked closely with State Representatives Mike Carroll, Sid Michaels Kavulich, Marty Flynn and Kevin Haggerty to achieve the best possible outcome in the distribution of state funding in a highly competitive process.

The majority of the grants approved today were through the Monroe County Local Share Account program. Blake noted that these LSA funds may be used for eligible and fundable projects in Monroe County and its contiguous counties, which include Carbon, Lackawanna, Northampton, Pike and Wayne.

In Lackawanna County, the following projects received grant funding through the Monroe Local Share Account:

  • The City of Scranton will receive $195,000 for paving Oakwood and White Birch Drive in the Oakwood development in Scranton’s west side.
  • The Keyser Valley Neighborhood Association will receive $125,000 for paving and re-grading of the Keyser Valley Community Center parking lot.
  • Clarks Summit Fire Co. No. 1 will receive $15,000 for the purchase of an emergency response vehicle.
  • Scranton Tomorrow will receive $115,000 for curb appeal improvements in the downtown Scranton business district.
  • The Greater Scranton YMCA will receive $285,000 for the renovation of two pool facilities at the YMCA in Dunmore.
  • The Everhart Museum will receive $220,000 to address general renovations and safety at the Scranton museum.
  • Moscow Borough will receive $200,000 for the design and construction of a sanitary sewer extension along Church Street.
  • Madison Township will receive $166,064 to make improvements to Becks Crossing Road.
  • VFW Post 25 will receive $100,000 for the construction of Scranton Veterans Memorial Park to honor Scranton’s fallen soldiers.
  • Heritage Valley Partners, in partnership with the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority, will receive $90,000 to make pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements in the city of Scranton.
  • The Greenwood Hose Company in Moosic Borough will receive $88,000 for the purchase of one rescue vehicle.
  • Mayfield Borough will receive $81,000 for the construction of a community center dedicated to agriculture, civic activities, entertainment and environmental education to complement the new Life Sciences and Environmental Technology Incubator.
  • Archbald Borough will receive $63,080 for the purchase of a police vehicle.
  • The Archbald Athletic and Sportsmen’s Club will receive$60,000 for the renovation of the community athletic field.
  • Scott Township will receive $58,000 to construct a salt storage shed on recently purchased township land.
  • United Community Food Bank will receive $50,000 to renovate the food bank’s existing food storage warehouse in Blakely Borough.
  • Waverly Township will receive $47,500 for the purchase of a 2017 Ford Utility Interceptor police car and a 2016 Ford Super Duty F-550 municipal dump truck to maintain township roads.
  • Blakely Borough will receive $46,000 for the replacement of deteriorated sidewalks in the borough’s business district.
  • The City of Scranton will receive $44,000 to purchase a Fire Marshall vehicle equipped for a K-9 officer.
  • The North Scranton Neighborhood Association will receive $39,021 to renovate playground equipment at McLain Park.
  • West Scranton High School will receive $37,000 for the renovation of the school’s training facility.
  • South Abington Township will receive $35,000 for the purchase of two new police vehicles.
  • The Coal Miners Remembered Committee will receive $35,000 to erect a monument in honor of all coal miners from Blakely Borough.
  • Marywood University will receive $25,000 for the final phase of their Learning Commons project which includes the demolition of the existing library and construction of an outdoor amphitheater.
  • Taylor Borough will receive $24,021 for the purchase of adapters for the borough’s fire hydrants and police equipment.
  • The Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway Historical Society will receive $22,500 to replace the roof on the passenger station.

Two municipalities in Lackawanna County were also awarded grants through the Pennsylvania Small Water and Sewer Program. The Scott Township Sewer and Water Authority will receive $200,000 for an upgrade to their sanitary sewer collection system. Clarks Summit Borough will receive $200,000 for sewer upgrades. Lastly, Dupont Borough in Luzerne County will receive $50,000 for renovations to the Quail Hill pump station.

In Luzerne County six projects in Senator Blake’s 22nd District received over $900,000 in grant funding through the Luzerne County Local Share Account:

  • Avoca Borough will receive $350,000 to perform renovations and recreational improvements at the existing Community Center on Main Street.
  • Pittston Township will receive $275,000 for the reconstruction of the township fire station.
  • Duryea Borough will receive $150,000 to construct an addition to the existing Street Department building.
  • Avoca Borough will receive $102,640 for the purchase of a new fire engine.
  • Duryea Borough will receive $24,000 for a remodel of the Germania Hose Company.
  • Dupont Borough will receive $20,000 for the Greater Pittston Regional Composting Facility.

Finally, in Monroe County four projects in Senator Blake’s 22nd District received grants through the Monroe Local Share Account program:

  • Pocono Services for Family and Children will receive $640,500 to replace the roof on the recently purchased Mountain Center facility in Coolbaugh Township.
  • The Pocono Mountain Municipal Airport Authority will receive $400,000 to construct a 6,000 square foot building to store its snow removal equipment.
  • Stroudsburg Borough will receive $130,670 for paving and drainage improvements along Sarah Street from Fifth to Ninth Streets.
  • KidsPeace Corporation will receive $130,000 to renovate a vacant space and expand its operations in Coolbaugh Township.

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Blake Discusses State Budget, Legislative Priorities at Annual Legislative Breakfast

SCRANTON, February 24, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake today hosted over 100 local and municipal officials at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in Scranton for his seventh annual legislative breakfast.

The wide-ranging discussion focused mostly on the $32.3 billion state budget proposed by Governor Tom Wolf earlier this month and how budget priorities and decisions will affect school districts and municipalities across northeastern Pennsylvania.

“The budget proposed by Governor Wolf is a function of dealing with both the fiscal and political realities facing the Commonwealth and represents a very strong starting position for our ongoing budget negotiations,” Blake said. “The Governor’s budget rightly proposes an increase in funding for all of our local school districts still feeling the pinch from the four years of insufficient funding under the previous administration. It is imperative that we continue working to increase the state’s share of funding a quality, public education.”

The Governor’s proposal includes new revenue from a new severance tax on natural gas extraction and proposes combined reporting for Pennsylvania businesses – both initiatives that have been supported by Senator Blake since taking office in 2011. Blake currently has legislation that would gradually reduce Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income Tax and provide for a phased closing of the so-called Delaware Loophole by implementing mandatory combined reporting.

Blake also discussed the Governor’s proposed $25 per capita fee for 2.5 million Pennsylvanians who live in municipalities receiving full-time state police coverage. In the 22nd Senatorial District, seven municipalities rely solely on the Pennsylvania State Police for police coverage and would be subject to the fee.

 

“Due to budget pressures over the last handful of years, we have been forced to pull money from the Motor License fund – money supposed to be used to improve our roads and bridges – to pay for state police coverage,” Blake said. “There is a lot of contention on this issue, and I am a cosponsor of an alternative solution that would provide for a direct dollar-for-dollar exchange in relation to the actual cost of providing police coverage.  We need to reduce reliance on the Motor License Fund while ensuring adequate support for our PA State Police to ensure public safety throughout the state.”

Blake noted that significant property tax reform was not discussed in the Governor’s budget address but it should be an important issue in our negotiations for a final state budget. Blake recently joined his colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus to call for a special session of the General Assembly to address property tax reform or elimination.

“Property taxes are a significant burden for a large number of Pennsylvania families and something needs to be done – but in any solution, we need to ensure that we can continue to adequately and predictably fund our public education system,” Blake added. “The tax shift under certain property tax elimination proposals would be near $14 billion dollars – and would also let casinos, retailers and businesses off the hook. We need to be sure that any tax shift does not disproportionately burden working class Pennsylvanians.”

Looking ahead, Blake is hopeful that he can get final passage of his Senate Bill 234, the Property Assessed Clean Energy bill, which would establish a financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency and water conservation upgrades at commercial or industrial properties.

“The PACE bill presents a win-win situation – it is market-driven and does not cost the taxpayers a  dime,” Blake said. “Currently, 33 states authorize PACE financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects and we are hopeful – that with nearly 25 cosponsors – our bill can reach the governor’s desk this session.”

Blake, who serves on the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership team in the role of Caucus Administrator of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that he hopes to reach a bipartisan agreement on a balanced state budget, pension reform and property tax reform.

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Blake: RACP Grant Applications Now Being Accepted

SCRANTON, January 5, 2017 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that applications for the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) are now being accepted. 

RACP is a commonwealth grant program administered by the Governor’s Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic and community development improvement projects.  In 2016, five projects in Lackawanna County received $9 million in RACP grants.

“RACP funding continues to be important in leveraging private investment in our region and it supports critically important economic development and job creation projects,” Blake said. “Across Northeastern Pennsylvania – and particularly in the City of Scranton – we have seen important state investments from this program.  These investments revitalize neighborhoods; they support our business community and our workers; and they have enhanced facilities and programing at our institutions of higher learning.  It is my hope that we are again able to bring RACP funding to our region to continue our economic growth and progress.”

Blake said that applications are only being accepted until February 3 so it is imperative for eligible organizations to apply soon for this highly competitive program.   Only projects identified and authorized for funding under law through Act 85 of 2013 are eligible to apply.  This program requires a dollar for dollar match in non-state funding in the project and, if approved, all project related expenses must be incurred and satisfied in advance of approved reimbursements from the state.

Per RACP guidelines, a project is eligible for a RACP grant if it has a cultural, civic, historical, regional or multi-jurisdictional impact and generates substantial increases in employment, tax revenues or other measures of economic activity.

For more information about the RACP program, visit www.budget.pa.gov/Programs/RACP/. Organizations eligible to apply for RACP grants can submit their application electronically through the DCED Electronic Single Application website at https://www.esa.dced.state.pa.us/login.aspx

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Blake Announces Nearly $ 1 Million in Conservation Grants for Local Projects

SCRANTON, December 14, 2016 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced nearly $1 million in state grants for four Lackawanna County projects that will upgrade local parks and enhance recreation opportunities.

The local funding is part of an over $45 million investment in 260 projects across the Commonwealth by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program.

“I applaud the work of the Wolf Administration and DCNR officials for continuing to deliver significant state support for impactful local projects that will improve our local parks and recreation opportunities for Lackawanna County residents,” Blake said. “These investments are a great example of state funding making a positive impact and improving the quality of life in our communities.”

The largest local grant was a $499,900 grant awarded to the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority to continue the development of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail in Dickson City. The grant will fund the construction of 1.1 miles of trail from Railroad Avenue to Lackawanna Avenue in the borough and other related site improvements.

The City of Scranton received $288,000 for the rehabilitation and further development of Novembrino Park on 10th Avenue in West Scranton. The project will include the construction of a splash pad, pavilion pedestrian walkway and a number of other improvements.

Olyphant Borough received $65,000 for the rehabilitation of Rep. Joseph Wargo Park at Fern Hill in the borough. The work will include renovation of the field house/concession/storage facility at the park and a number of other landscaping and site improvements.

Lastly, Countryside Conservancy received $119,000 for the acquisition of 82 acres along Hack Road in Benton Township to enhance public recreation opportunities.

The Community Conservation Partnerships Program (CCPP) is administered by DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation to provide financial and technical assistance to local governments, river and trail organizations, land trusts and other nonprofits for planning, acquisition and development of park, recreation, conservation and greenway projects.

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Blake Announces $ 1.2 Million in Multimodal Grant Funding for District Projects

HARRISBURG, December 6, 2016 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that three Lackawanna County projects will receive $1.2 million in grant funding through the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

The funding, approved earlier today at a meeting of the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA), is slated for projects at Keystone College, the University of Scranton and in Covington Township.

“Both the University of Scranton and Keystone College have been making incredible improvements to their respective campuses in recent years and these state investments will allow these institutions to continue to pursue their visions and ultimately, attract more students to Lackawanna County,” Blake said. “In Covington Township, the improvements to Bochicchio Boulevard are long overdue and this state funding will allow for the necessary improvements to this main thoroughfare to North Pocono High School.”

Keystone College will receive $456,660 for the construction of a pedestrian walkway and to make a number of pedestrian safety improvements on the campus in La Plume Township. The University of Scranton will receive $404,086 to complete Phase 3 of their pedestrian circulation improvement project in the center of campus. Lastly, Covington Township will receive $339,254 to make stormwater and roadway improvements on Bochicchio Boulevard.

The Multimodal Transportation Fund, through the CFA, provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

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