Mercer County Regional Planning Commission, Hermitage, Pennsylvania


Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund


Thursday – November 17, 2005
Mercer County Regional Planning Commission Offices


Board Members –R. Glenn Adams, DeWitt Boosel, Dr. Joyce M. Cuff, Victoria Hosick, William Morocco, Randy Riddle, Suzanne Rosenfelder and Bob Siegfried.

Others – Susan Kovacik (Good Shepherd Center, Inc.), Angelo Stamoolis and Fern Torok (Community Counseling Center of Mercer County), Daniel Gracenin (Executive Director, Mercer County Regional Planning Commission) and Brian Barnhizer (Senior Planner, MCRPC).


Board Members – Fran Billen, Ron Errett, Donald A. Koontz, Shirley Logan and Pamela Prince

Mr. Boosel, Chairperson, called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.

Since there was no quorum at the last meeting, there were no minutes to review/approve.

Mr. Boosel began the meeting by introducing himself and asking for those present to introduce themselves and explain their affiliations. Once this was done, Mr. Boosel began to describe the history, mission and purpose of the program and the board. Mr. Barnhizer passed out a number of items for the board to review. Among the items were a summary of the Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund, the 2001 Ordinance establishing the Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund and the board itself, the 2001 Resolution establishing the makeup and functions of the board, and the 2002 Bylaws under which the board operates. Mr. Boosel described each of the handouts in turn, and answered a number of questions from new board members.

After this discussion was finished, Mr. Boosel went on to describe the projects that had been awarded grants by the board in 2003 and 2004, along with the financial status of the fund. Three projects had received funding: 1) The Community Counseling Center of Mercer County (CCC) was awarded $32,500, which was used to defray the cost of CCC’s purchase of a home in the City of Hermitage. That home is now housing three mental health customers that are under staff supervision. 2) The Mercer County Community Action Partnership (MCCAP) was awarded $20,770.80, which was used to assist in the construction of several new homes and new rental units in the Cities of Sharon and Farrell. The total project cost was approximately $736,000. 3) The Mercer County Housing Authority (MCHA) was awarded $100,000 in order to assist in the construction of a 40 unit senior housing project in the City of Hermitage. The total cost for this project is over $5 million, and work is still underway. The Act 137 grant funding awarded to these 3 projects totals $153,270. According to a November 16, 2005 memo from Mercer County Recorder Rhonda McClelland, subtracting the $153,270 from the full fund balance of $632,816 leaves an unencumbered fund balance of $479,546 for future projects. Mr. Gracenin pointed out to the board that the fund balance increases each month by $10,000 to $12,000, which has led to the nearly one-half million dollars in currently unencumbered funds. Board members discussed the issue of the fund balance for several minutes, and agreed that it might become necessary to make more people aware of the program’s existence.

The board then moved to review the two proposals received for the third round of funding requests. These proposals were received from the Good Shepherd Center, Inc. ($11,100) and the Community Counseling Center of Mercer County ($80,000). Combined, the two proposals requested a total of $91,100 in funds. A summary of the projects as presented by the applicants follows, along with subsequent discussions by the board.

PROJECT: Susan Kovacik, the executive director of the Good Shepherd Center, presented the Center’s proposal to add kitchen facilities to their current emergency shelter in Greenville, along with a timed alarm system that would allow temporary residents easy access while keeping out non-residents. The addition of a kitchen facility will allow temporary residents to stay for periods of up to 30 days, giving them time to find longer term housing and to receive needed counseling services. Ms. Kovacik explained that there is a significant need for this type of housing in the Greenville area, and asked the board to approve this request for funding.

DISCUSSION: Board members spent some time discussing the merits of the proposed project. Mr. Siegfried and Ms. Rosenfelder asked Ms. Kovacik several questions relating to insurance coverage, resident and staff safety issues, and whether other organizations provided similar services in the Greenville area. After Ms. Kovacik responded, the board moved to score the proposal using the established selection criteria. Mr. Barnhizer tallied the score sheets. The averaged score for the proposal was 25.625 points out of a possible 40 points.

PROJECT: Angelo Stamoolis, the executive director of the Community Counseling Center, requested $80,000, of which approximately $54,000 would be used to pay down a portion of the mortgage of a CCC owned property on South Irvine Avenue. The remaining $26,000 would be used to pay for maintenance and repair work on various structures. Ms. Torok explained that these funds would free up other CCC funds which would be used for operational activities, making this application a request for operational funding.

DISCUSSION: Board members discussed the application at length. There was concern expressed about the funding request exceeding the operational funds cap of 20%. The board was unsure whether the 20% cap would apply to the total in the fund account or to 20% of the amount placed in the account over a one year period. The board ultimately decided that 20% of the total fund could be applied to operational activities. In order to formalize that decision, Mr. Riddle made a motion that 20% of the total unencumbered fund balance be made available for applications for operational funds. The motion was seconded by Dr. Cuff, and passed unanimously. The board then moved to score the application. Mr. Barnhizer tallied the score sheets, and calculated an averaged score of 30.75 points out of a possible 40 points.

Once the scores were reported, Mr. Morocco made a motion to recommend both applications to the County Commissioners for approval. The motion was seconded by Mr. Riddle, and was passed by the board with two abstentions.

Mr. Gracenin next asked for nominations from the floor for the positions of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Secretary.

A motion was made by Mr. Adams to nominate Mr. Boosel for Chairperson of the Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund Board. The motion was seconded by Dr. Cuff, and passed unanimously.

A motion was made by Mr. Riddle to nominate Mr. Siegfried for Vice-Chairperson of the Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund. The motion was seconded by Mr. Morocco, and passed unanimously.

A motion was made by Mr. Boosel to nominate Dr. Cuff for Secretary of the Mercer County Affordable Housing Fund. The motion was seconded by Mr. Adams, and passed unanimously.

The board agreed to meet again in mid to late March, unless a project that needed immediate consideration in the intervening time warranted an earlier meeting. Mr. Boosel indicated that he would like to set up a committee in the near future in order to examine some of the issues and questions raised over the guidelines, threshold and selection criteria discussed earlier in the evening. The board members agreed. Mr. Gracenin informed the board that a minimum of three meetings are supposed to be scheduled per year, in accordance with the 2001 Resolution that established the board. The board agreed to try to hold at least three meetings each year.

In other business, Mr. Gracenin stated that the MCRPC has been working on a number of multi-municipal comprehensive plans around the county, and explained in a general way how the efforts of the board tie in with these comprehensive plans. Mr. Barnhizer informed the board that the state Brownfields for Housing program was accepting applications for funding until mid December from counties that have active affordable housing programs. Even though notices had been sent out in late October by the MCRPC to various organizations and municipalities, no applications had been submitted to date.

A motion was made to adjourn the meeting by Mr. Siegfried. Mr. Morocco seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

Certified as true and correct,

Dr. Joyce M. Cuff -- Secretary


Mercer County Regional Planning Commission
2491 Highland Road, Hermitage, PA 16148


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