Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund
MERCER COUNTY AFFORDABLE HOUSING
FUND BOARD MEETING
Monday, March 20, 2006
Mercer County Regional Planning Commission Offices
Board Members – L. DeWitt
Boosel, Victoria Hosick, Bob Siegfried, Fran Billen, Donald A. Koontz, Ron
Errett, Shirley Logan
Others: - Olivia Lazor (Mercer
County Commissioner), Daniel Gracenin (Executive Director – MCRPC), Carmen
Reichard (Assistant Director-Administration – MCRPC), Brian Barnhizer
(Senior Planner – MCRPC)
Board Members – Pamela
Prince, Joyce Cuff, Randy Riddle, Glenn Adams, Suzanne Rosenfelder, Bill
Mr. Boosel, Chairperson,
called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. He reminded the Board that the
Minutes from the November 17, 2005 meeting were mailed prior to tonight’s
meeting. He asked if there were any additions, corrections or deletions to the
Minutes. There being none, a motion was made by Mr. Siegfried and seconded by
Ms. Hosick to approve the Minutes of the November 17, 2005 meeting. The motion
passed. Mr. Boosel also reminded the Board members that in accordance with the
2001 Resolution established by the Board, a minimum of three meetings should
be held per calendar year. The Board agreed to hold at least three meetings
Mr. Boosel next stated that
there might be two vacant seats on the Board due to existing residency
requirements. Mr. Barnhizer explained that Dr. Joyce Cuff is not a resident of
Mercer County, and according to the Resolution adopted by the County
Commissioners, they (the Commissioners) shall appoint County residents as
members. Ms. Fran Billen stated that, under those standards, she cannot be on
the Board either as she is not a resident of Mercer County. Mr. Barnhizer
stated that the Mercer County Commissioners can be approached to see if this
would be a problem, and, if it is, asked if they would be willing to modify
the Resolution. Committee members went on to discuss a possible modification
to the Resolution stating that a certain percentage of non-residents who work
in Mercer County would be eligible to be on the Board. Mr. Boosel stated that
he will talk with the Mercer County Commissioners concerning the membership
Mr. Boosel next discussed the
program guidelines/application criteria and some of the revised language
regarding several issues and interpretations that were reviewed at the March
20 meeting. Mr. Boosel stated that he appointed a Committee to take a look at
the program guidelines. He appointed Mr. Errett as Chairman, with Mr.
Siegfried and Ms. Hosick as Committee members. This Committee met in December
with Mr. Gracenin and Mr. Barnhizer and they discussed several changes to the
guidelines. Mr. Errett went on to explain two proposed changes to the program
First proposed change:
There shall be a 20% cap on funding awarded to operational activities in any
funding cycle (calendar year. Applicants that have been awarded operational
funds may not apply for operational funds in future years, but may apply for
funding for "bricks and mortar" development programs.). Two
issues were decided. The Committee stated that they first needed to define the
meaning of the term funding cycle, which they determined to be a calendar
year. Next, they needed to define operational funds and whether the guidelines
allow applicants to come back year after year for operational funding or not.
The Board recognized that the emphasis should remain on the funding of bricks
and mortar development projects. In discussion, it was noted by Mr. Errett
that this would appear to contradict the motion which was passed at the last
application review meeting. Mr. Boosel stated that what was approved in the
recent past allowed for the operational use of a 20% portion of several years’
worth of program funds by an applicant. Mr. Boosel also reminded the Board
that an application for operational funding has already gone to the County
Commissioners and has been approved. In further discussion, there was still
some question regarding operational funds. Committee members ultimately agreed
that the language in the guidelines should read: There shall be a 20% cap "on
the previous year’s revenues" on funding awarded to operational
activities in any funding "calendar year". Applicants that
have been awarded operational funds may not apply for operational funds in
future years, but may apply for funding for bricks and mortar development
programs. Committee members were in agreement with this item.
Second proposed change:
In order for the Board to be prepared to assist in funding a potential
larger scale project, a minimum fund reserve of $150,000 to $200,000 shall
normally be maintained. Committee members agreed to leave a minimum fund
reserve for projects that fall outside of the calendar year in terms of what
was committed and what was expensed.
After discussion on the two
proposed changes, a motion was made by Mr. Siegfried to approve them and
forward them to the Mercer County Commissioners. Mr. Koontz seconded. The
Mr. Boosel next welcomed
Commissioner Lazor to the meeting and asked her opinion on the Board’s
membership situation. He informed her that the Board has two members who are
non-residents. According to the Resolution passed by the County Commissioners,
they shall appoint County residents as members. Board members had discussed
recommending that a certain percentage of non-residents who work in Mercer
County could be eligible to be on the Board. Commissioner Lazor stated that
she would check into this issue and get back to the Board.
Mr. Errett next discussed
another proposed change to the program guidelines under Project Selection
Criteria – Eligible applicants. Currently it reads: Eligible applicants
include any county or local government entity or non-profit organization
located in Mercer County. Board members discussed if they should maintain this
restriction by requiring that entities/organizations be located within Mercer
County. Board members felt that they might not want outside developers coming
into Mercer County to carry out affordable housing related projects since
their ties to the area could be slim or nonexistent. The consensus of the
Board was to keep this restrictive language in place.
Mr. Errett next discussed a
proposed change under Project Selection Criteria – Threshold criteria.
Currently it reads: It must lever and utilize other (non-Act 137) funds,
public or private. Board members discussed adding the following sentence.
"Act 137 funds may not be used to cover more than 50% of the total cost
of a project." The Board felt that this sentence is critical and should
be added. In discussion, there was an issue concerning the 50% match,
especially for a small project. It was noted that an applicant’s 50% match
could be land, donated materials or labor. After discussion, a motion was made
by Mr. Siegfried to approve this change and forward it on the County
Commissioners for their approval. Ms. Hosick seconded. The motion passed.
Mr. Errett next discussed a
change under the Competitive selection criteria. The Board agreed that the
following sentence should be added: "A minimum mean score of 30 points is
required in order to be considered for funding." He noted two reasons why
30 points should be required: 1) there should be some minimum level of quality
for each application; and 2) in the presence of more proposals than we could
possibly have money to fund.
Mr. Errett went on to discuss
how many points should be awarded for each level of match. Board members
discussed the point system. After discussing the point system, the Board
decided that if an application has a match of between 50-59% - it would
receive 6 points; 60-69% - 7 points; 70-79% - 8 points; 80-89% - 9 points and
90%+ - 10 points. After discussion, the Board felt comfortable with the range
of points but Mr. Gracenin expressed his concern about smaller projects and
questioned whether they would be able to reach the minimum score of 30 points.
The Board members agreed that they would not want to lower the minimum score
of 30 points. They noted that for each project that is submitted the scores of
each Board member are added up and averaged overall. Mr. Boosel asked for a
motion. Mr. Errett indicated that some of the items were already approved by
individual motion and others were not. Mr. Errett asked if he could review all
of the changes and make a motion on the whole document. The Board agreed.
After Mr. Errett and Mr.
Boosel discussed the proposed changes overall, a motion was made by Mr.
Siegfried to approve the proposed changes noted above and forward them to the
Mercer County Commissioners. Mr. Koontz seconded. The motion passed.
Mr. Boosel next stated that he
recently met with the County Commissioners to discuss the issues surrounding
requests for support letters that had been submitted to the County
Commissioners. He felt that it would be necessary to amend item #2 under
Threshold criteria to add the following language. "County Commissioners
shall not provide support letters for applications, and if Board members
provide a support letter, they shall automatically abstain from voting on the
particular project." Board members discussed the pros and cons of adding
this language. After discussion, a motion was made by Mr. Siegfried to approve
the added language and forward this to the Mercer County Commissioners. Ms.
Hosick seconded. The motion passed.
Mr. Gracenin explained that,
shortly after the last application review meeting, the MCRPC had received two
applications for funding and felt that they should be considered under the
existing rules. Mr. Boosel felt that if we are going to change the rules, that
we should send the applications back and explain to them that there are new
criteria that must be met prior to them resubmitting their applications. Mr.
Gracenin expressed his concern over when the County Commissioners would take
action on the guidelines and criteria. Commissioner Lazor stated that their
next meeting would be the 2nd Thursday in April (April 13th).
After discussion, the Board stated that we should process the applications as
soon as possible and set up another meeting. The Board set up the next meeting
for Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
There being no further
business, the meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
County Regional Planning Commission
2491 Highland Road, Hermitage, PA 16148
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