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Verona Council Discusses Potential Streets for Grant Program

Panel will conduct family income surveys to mark areas that qualify for the Community Development Block Grant program to avoid using local tax dollars.

At the Verona Township Council meeting Monday night, the council discussed possible road projects it should submit for its yearly Community Development Block Grant.

The grants provide the township with federal money for various street improvements.

However, Congress has dramatically cut funding for the program and made qualifying criteria more difficult over the years, said Verona Township Engineer Jim Helb.

“We are revisiting some areas that we had done many years ago and readdressing some of those areas because they do still qualify from the standpoint of income criteria,” said Helb.

In 2012, Verona received $95,000 in funding — its lowest appropriation for the program, said Helb. The township used this year’s funds to pay for repaving of section one of Personette Avenue and Depot Street.

According to township documents, the township usually receives between $15,000 and $200,000 in funding per year. Since 1979, Verona has received $6.6 million from the program.

Next year, the council expects to receive between $75,000 and $100,000. The council discussed using whatever funds it receives for section two of Personette Avenue and street improvements to Gould Street and East Reid Place.

The deadline to apply for the grant is mid-December, but township officials may not have an answer either way until the middle of 2013, said Helb.

Over the next two weeks, the town will conduct family income surveys to mark areas that qualify for the grant to avoid using local tax dollars.

They will then detail cost estimates of various projects and continue the discussion as well as hold a public hearing during the Dec. 3 meeting.

“The council has always supported getting this project done in a timely manner,” said Helb.

In other news, the council:

  • Introduced two ordinances for first reading fixing the salaries of Verona police and township employees for 2012. Both police and township officials will see an increase of 3.25 percent for this year. In 2013 it will drop to 3 percent. The council will hold a public hearing on Dec. 3 before the ordinances are passed.
  • Announced the township is assembling cost estimates on Hurricane Sandy to be submitted to FEMA. The payback is about 75 percent of what the township submits to FEMA, said Jeff Hayes, Director of the Verona Office of Emergency Management. However, the statewide damage makes 75 percent more of a target than a reality, said Verona Township Manager Joe Martin.

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