Helping Honesdale spend grant money

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 8/18/21

HONESDALE, PA — The Borough of Honesdale learned in late July that it is eligible to receive up to $448,088.90 as its share of the American Recovery Act (ARA), federal legislation created to …

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Helping Honesdale spend grant money

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HONESDALE, PA — The Borough of Honesdale learned in late July that it is eligible to receive up to $448,088.90 as its share of the American Recovery Act (ARA), federal legislation created to help the American economy rebound from COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. However, accessing those funds and determining which of the borough’s many worthy projects meet ARA eligibility criteria is a job too complex to be undertaken by Honesdale Borough Council alone. 

Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC (ZA) is a CPA firm identified by the Wayne County Commissioners as potentially qualified to administer federal grant monies at county and borough levels. If the borough elects to use that firm’s expertise, the cost will be 1% of total funds administered, or about $4,048.

According to its website (www.zallc.org), “ZA is a Pennsylvania-based regional CPA firm with offices in Harrisburg, Greensburg, Pittsburgh, Greater Philadelphia, as well as Frankford, DE and Annapolis, MD, that specializes in providing auditing, accounting, consulting, and tax services to non-profit and governmental entities of all sizes and all types.”

Speaking by phone on August 17, borough secretary Judy Poltanis said that, if hired, ZA would do much more than just determine funding eligibility. “It will draft, provide, and amend all documents required in connection with funding applications.”

The borough’s decision to hire ZA was tabled at its August 16 virtual council meeting until the council’s September meeting, pending further exploration of the firm’s resources and capabilities at a series of meetings orchestrated by the commissioners, the next scheduled for August 17.

Other grant monies are also up for borough grabs. The 2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was considered at a public hearing preceding the August 16 council meeting. CDBG is designed to meet three general objectives: to benefit low and moderate-income individuals; to eliminate slums and blighted properties; and to meet urgent need.

Suggestions for spending those monies came from Democratic mayoral candidate Derek Williams and David Nelson. Williams would like pedestrians to benefit from the improvement of steps connecting Cottage Street and Riverside Drive. Nelson would like to see the demolition of some of Honesdale’s not inconsiderable number of zombie houses, naming a few long-blighted properties.

Still, other funds are available through the Local Share Account established by Act 71, otherwise known as The Gaming Act. Thanks to legalized gambling in neighboring counties, Wayne County is eligible for community development funding. Honesdale Fire Department would like to see some of it go to repairs on the 40-year-old Texas #4 Firehouse. That request is currently pending before the planning commission; funding requires approval from both the council and the planning commission.

In other business, the council approved Honesdale Jaycees replacement of non-native pear trees in Triangle Park with native trees; all costs associated with the tree removal and replanting will be borne by the Jaycees, except for the consulting fee of a local forester who is advising on native trees suitable for the location.

The council also approved a recommendation from the parks and recreation committee to appoint nominee Faraji Starks to that committee.

September 20 will be the next and only meeting of the council in September. A recording of the August 16 council meeting is available at http://honesdaleborough.com/departments-and-services/government/agenda-deadlines/.

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