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Lancaster Township considers applying to state matching grant program

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LANCASTER TWP – Supervisors discussed applying to enter the township in a state program that would help fund long-term financial and administrative plan improvements at a meeting Monday night.

No vote was taken at the meeting, but board members considered putting together an application to the program, the Strategic Management Planning Program, sometime in the future.

Township manager C. Michael Foote said that the program works with communities who are looking to make improvements and provides funding from the state for a portion of the expenses associated with those improvements.

“I think it could be a real benefit for us if we look for ways to leverage those opportunities,” Foote said. “Our interest in applying to the program is to look for opportunities to improve various portions of our operations.”

The program works with municipalities statewide through the Department of Community and Economic Development, and particularly does a “deep dive” on finance improvements, Foote explained. Municipalities send out requests for proposals from consulting firms and then apply to the program. Once they are approved, the state makes a commitment for how much it would be able to help pay.

“It’s more of the operation and management of the organization,” Foote said. “There’s a real strong focus on financial components, to assist with sustainable budgeting, looking at multiyear revenue projections and doing a number of things to help the municipality operate in a sound financial manner.”

Foote said the program was sparked by a number of Pennsylvania municipalities filing for Act 47 financial distress.

“Because there were a lot of distressed communities, DCED created a program like this to be able to help municipalities,” he said. “We’re far from that dire strait, but it doesn’t mean we can’t improve, (or that) we can’t better plan our budgeting.”

The program would be separate from the township’s ongoing efforts to update its comprehensive plan, a process that will continue with meetings scheduled in September.

Foote has some experience applying for the Strategic Management Planning Program from his previous position as manager of Indiana borough. He left that position before the process was completed.

Grant applications

Supervisors also voted to apply for funding from the Butler County Municipal Infrastructure Program (MIP) to benefit stormwater and broadband projects in the township.

The township approved a resolution to apply for funding for a stormwater project on West Lancaster Road that was identified as a concern during the Lower Connoquenessing Stormwater Planning Study in March 2021. The township also will apply for a broadband project that will “assist underserved areas in the township” along Pfeifer Road, Smith Road, and Aspen Lane by installing fiber optic cable through Armstrong.

Additionally, supervisors approved a resolution supporting applications submitted to the MIP through the Southwest Butler Stormwater Planning Group for infrastructure projects. The group was created in 2019 to bring 10 municipalities -- Evans City, Harmony, Seven Fields, Zelienople, Adams, Cranberry, Forward, Jackson, Lancaster, and Penn -- together with the county to address flooding after a large countywide flood in 2019.