Bridge commission shares a service
By: MELISSA HAYES
Burlington County Times
PALMYRA - The Burlington County Bridge Commission is reaching out to municipalities to help them solicit grants.
The commission, which serves as the county's improvement authority, has used its grant writer to help towns obtain more than $5.2 million so far.
"We've directed our staff to make it their business to help the towns," Commissioner Priscilla Anderson said. "The towns are entitled to these funds and they desperately need them."
The commission hired Community Grants, Planning and Housing of East Windsor to serve as its grant writer. The contract allows for a maximum of $200,000 annually.
In December, the county Board of Freeholders asked the commission to help municipalities prepare grant applications. The commission's grant writer is working with several communities and its staff welcomes other towns to get involved.
"Now more than ever, our taxpayers need the relief this kind of shared service brings," Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II said.
During Tuesday's meeting, the commissioners announced that CGP&H had helped Willingboro and Burlington City submit applications for the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Willingboro was awarded $2 million and Burlington City $1.67 million to help acquire and rehabilitate vacant homes and market them as affordable housing.
"This is just the latest success from our aggressive plan to garner all the dollars available for municipalities," Comegno said.
CGP&H also is submitting applications for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which offers funding for drug and violent-crime prevention, on behalf of 17 county towns.
Many other grant applications are in the works, including several for transportation projects.
The commissioners said hiring the grant writer and offering the service to municipalities have created an impressive return on the investment. For every dollar spent, $22 in grants has been awarded.
"By partnering with CGP&H, the commission is investing in our towns, saving our taxpayers millions of dollars," Commissioner Troy Singleton said. "And with that rate of return, it's money very well spent."
Municipalities interested in applying for grants can contact Gary LaVenia, the commission's improvement authority director, at 856-829-1900, ext. 242.
The commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol bridges.
May 14, 2009