Pennsylvania’s local governments are on the front lines of providing for the needs and wants, and capturing information about, the likes and dislikes of the communities they serve.  Certainly, the decisions made by local government officials, planners and professional staff are the most likely to directly impact their constituencies’ daily lives because such decisions typically are at a more personal level than those made by state and federal officials.  However, there are state government opportunities and processes that should be considered by local leaders that may support their more pressing priorities for growth and development.

For example, Governor Tom Wolf’s budget address on February 5, 2019 identified many areas of increased focus and related funding that, if approved by the General Assembly later this year, should be primarily available to help Pennsylvania’s local governments meet many of their budgetary requirements.  Although the Governor continues to prioritize education funding, workforce development and new resources for the agricultural industry, many other areas of opportunity exist and are expected to continue to be available after this budget is negotiated.

This is the first in a series of blog posts in which we highlight a sampling of the funding sources planners and local government officials should consider when working with private and public sectors interested in infrastructure improvements, beautification and revitalization, attracting and/or expanding new businesses and industries to the area or, in some cases, trying to retain existing businesses.  This post focuses on the Act 13 suite of programs which is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (“PA DCED”).

Act 13 Family of Programs – PA Department of Community and Economic Development

Called the Marcellus Legacy Fund, the “Act 13” suite of programs was created by Act 13 of 2012 to provide for the distribution of unconventional gas well impact fees to certain counties, municipalities and commonwealth agencies.  Those funds become accessible through various programs.  A portion of the collected fee revenue is transferred to the Commonwealth Financing Authority (“CFA”) for statewide initiatives that include abandoned mine drainage abatement; abandoned well plugging; sewage treatment; greenways, trails and recreation; baseline water quality data; watershed restoration; and flood control.  PA DCED and the CFA manage this suite of programs, all of which opened to new applications on February 1, 2019 and will close on May 31, 2019.

Another program, which is one of the most popular and broadly applicable Act 13 programs, is the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (“GTRP”).  This program can provide up to $250,000 in grant funding to municipalities, watershed organizations, educational facilities, and for-profit applicants to plan and implement qualified public trail, recreation and green space projects.  This source primarily is for planning grants and construction grants, and it is possible to fund up to 85% of the cost of these activities.  The program is intended to support the development, rehabilitation and improvements to public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails and river conservation across the Commonwealth.

Unique to this program is the ability to potentially match GTRP funding with grant funding from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (“DCNR”) and its Community Conservation Partnerships Program, commonly called the C2P2 program.  This program can fund early planning activities like open space plans; land conservation and stewardship plans; recreational feasibility studies; and master site development plans.  Funds are also available for implementation and construction that results from this careful planning, such as recreational trails, public recreation areas, rivers conservation projects, riparian buffering, and the like.  C2P2 and DCNR’s slate of grant programs opened January 22, 2019, with applications due by April 19, 2019 at 4:00 PM.

For more information about these and other programs that your community may access to help support its priorities, and for assistance in putting together an application or funding strategy, please contact either Kathy Duffy Bruder or Coleen Terry.

Kathleen Duffy Bruder is an attorney with McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC and represents clients with government relations and assists with clients interested in state funding support by helping them navigate state government and marketing their applications to decision makers.  Coleen Terry is President of Econ Partners, Inc. and focuses on helping clients achieve state funding support from strategy processes through application and post award compliance.  Together, Kathy and Coleen provide full service to clients interested in economic development opportunities.