Brookville falls beneath entitlement community cut-off point

BROOKVILLE — Brookville Borough Council Tuesday discussed the grim results of the 2010 U.S. Census, which could end up costing the borough significant money over the next 10 years.

The official borough population is now 3,924, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) grants Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds directly to boroughs with a population of 4,000 or more.

In 2000, Brookville had an official population of 4,182, which secured CDBG funds totalling more than $90,000 annually over the past decade.

Those funds are used for street and other infrastructure improvements in mainly low-income areas. Last year, the borough completed water line upgrades and street paving on Hiawatha Street.

Council had developed a three-year plan to upgrade Hastings Street using CDBG funds. Water and sewer line replacements, as well as paving, were planned on that street.

Now, that funding, in all likelihood, will be eliminated.

“It’s hard to swallow,” council President John Blazosky said of census results, adding that it’s possible that some residents were not counted or did not complete the census.
“We really have no way of knowing if everybody was counted,” he said. “All we know is that we did put in the effort, and we still came up 76 (people) short. We just have to learn to deal with it.”
Bill Setree, assistant director of the Jefferson County Department of Development, said the borough’s population will now be counted toward the county’s at-large population, which dictates the amount of CDBG funding the county receives.
Last year, the county received $292,484 in CDBG funds. Those funds are divided among municipalities that submit projects for funding. The additional 3,924 people counted in the county’s at-large population will “increase the county’s entitlement slightly,” Setree said.

That slight increase will be negated by overall reductions to CDBG funding, he said.

“My guess is that we would be lucky if we got the same amount as last year, because there is going to be a reduction,” Setree said. “It is probably going to be in the same neighborhood if Brookville’s population is included.”

Setree said the county will not give Brookville projects priority over other municipalities, saying, “We will count them as equal to all of the other municipalities that apply.”

It seems the only question that remains is how long Brookville will receive funding until the new census data takes effect. Council Secretary/Treasurer Steve Rowan said some money is still due from 2010’s entitlement, and he anticipates receiving funding this year.

That would give the borough about $150,000 to play with, but not enough money to complete the Hastings Street project.

Luke Webber, spokesperson for DCED, said the borough may end up receiving more money than that.

“We wait to hear from HUD (federal department of Housing and Urban Development),” he said. “That will not happen until 2012.”

Furthermore, Webber said the borough could file an appeal with the Census Bureau regarding the population standing.

“If the community were to present data that would help its case, that would be considered,” he said. “That could happen if something wasn’t counted, or they feel the count was inaccurate.”

So, like Setree and borough council, Webber could not say how much longer Brookville will receive funding, though he does anticipate funds being allocated into 2012.

“It’s simply too early to tell when funding would stop,” Webber said.

The borough Public Works Committee and Superintendent Bob Receski were charged with identifying new projects that could be carried out with the anticipated $150,000. They will make a recommendation to council in the coming months.