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Commissioners approve hospitality fund contract

Postal: Program likely to be enacted quickly

LEWISTOWN – A grant program aimed at providing much-needed financial help to the hospitality industry that has been hit hard by COVID-19 is soon coming to Mifflin County.

The Mifflin County Commissioners on Thursday approved a contract for CHRP (which stands for COVID-19 Hospitality Relief Program) after hearing from county planning director Mark Colussy about the program and the speed with which it has come into being.

“For how important this is to get the money in the hands of the hospitality industry, which is specifically for hospitality businesses, lodging and restaurants, I was very impressed with how the state was able to fast-forward all of this as well as the commissioners to have this moving forward,” Colussy said.

Colussy pointed out that the program was first announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development little more than two weeks ago. The county applied last week and was notified Feb. 12 that it had been awarded grant funding.

Colussy said that final details regarding distribution are being processed but the realization of urgent need is apparent.

“I think this is an important time to say this but we’ve already gotten several phone calls from people asking how they can apply for the funds,” he said. “We’re working behind the scenes on that. There’s several things that the state is kind of vague on. So, we have some questions for the state on some of that. But, generally speaking, it’s going to be very similar to the county relief block grant fund that was given to us through the CARES Act funds.

“So, I’m just asking anybody that’s in the hospitality industry to stay posted. We will be in contact with them.”

Commissioner Robert Postal stressed how quickly this came together.

“We have to move very quickly on this in a matter of hours or a day or two so this had to be done,” Postal said. “It was outside our control and it is for $522,576. There will be an application fee that will be worked out as part of this. We’re waiting for further instructions but it is going to get on the street real quick, I understand.”

In other business, the commissioners approved an e-recording agreement between the register and recorder’s office and Simplifile LC, of Provo, Utah. Register and recorder Barbara Stringer said it will be safer for staff because it would preclude more people from handling the same papers, thus reducing the risk of virus transmission, and the service would come at no cost to the county.

Postal confirmed that the agreement is indefinite and the commissioners could terminate the agreement in the future if so desired.

Also on Thursday, the commissioners:

¯Approved the minutes from the Feb. 4 meeting;

¯Approved payment of bills;

¯Approved a request for 69 exonerations of 2020 county portion of real estate taxes by Burnham Borough Tax Collector Joan North;

¯Rescinded the action taken on Jan. 21, 2021 to exonerate Brown Township Tax Collector Cheryl Hartzler from collecting 2020 per capita taxes for 26. Postal explained the prior action was due to duplication;

¯Approved the request for exoneration of delinquent real estate taxes and relieve Rebecca Ganoe, Tax Claim Bureau Director from collecting on the following properties: Parcel No. 12,22-0231,002 located in Armagh Township – mobile home was removed from the tax rolls in June 2020; Parcel No. 17,12-0111,021 located in Granville Township – shed was destroyed and removed from tax rolls; Parcel No. 17,14-0123D,210 located in Granville Township – mobile home was destroyed and removed from tax rolls; Parcel No. 17,36-0415,001 located in Granville Township – mobile home was destroyed and removed from tax rolls;

¯Accepted an offer of $100 for Parcel No. 17,19-0155–,000, located in Granville Township that is currently in repository for unsold properties;

¯Accepted an offer of $200 for Parcel No. 17,19-0159–,000, located in Granville Township that is currently in repository for unsold properties;

¯Accepted an offer of $1,500 for Parcel 02,02-0504–,000, located in Lewistown Borough that is currently in repository for unsold properties

¯Approved a motion by Commissioner Kevin Kodish to increase the amount received per bill by elected tax collectors by 18 cents;

¯Approved generator and transfer switch maintenance with G.R. Sponaugle, of Harrisburg for the period March 1, 2021 through Feb. 29, 2024 at $8,147 per year. Postal noted this saves the county money compared to the previous agreement;

¯Approved Resolution No. 2021-2: Authorizing an Application for the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant Funds through the Pa. Department of Community and Economic Development

¯Approved a project modification request for the RASA/VOJO Grant that would move money from supplies to salary;

¯Retroactively approved an award notification for the VOCA Grant for the period Oct. 1, 2020 through September 30, 2023 in the amount of $189,063. It was explained by Crime Services Director Jami Glick that this is due to DCED largely working remotely and being behind as a result

¯Approved the appointment of Jarred LeFevre for an intern in the Sheriff’s Office effective March 16;

¯Approved the hiring of Zachary Leitzel for part-time 9-1-1 Telecommunicator effective Feb. 22;

¯Approved the hiring of Vickie Kauffman for Victim/Witness Services Aide effective March 1.

The Mifflin County Commissioners’ next scheduled public meeting is at 9 a.m. March 4 at the Mifflin County Courthouse in Lewistown.

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