VERNON TOWNSHIP — With a little more than half a million dollars coming from the third stimulus, Vernon Township has settled on what officials view as the best primary way to spend that money.

Township Manager Robert Horvat, speaking at the June 3 township supervisors meeting, said the revenue replacement method seems to be the easiest way for Vernon Township to spend the $561,864.34 it is receiving from the American Rescue Plan.

Under this method, the township takes its 2019 base revenue and increases it by 4.1 percent. It then compares that total to the amount of revenue it received in 2020, minus any federal funding. The different between those two amounts can then be spent from the stimulus money.

"We can use that towards items such as paving, building, equipment, infrastructure projects," Horvat said. "It really provides you the best means to spend that money."

The stimulus money can also be used to replace lost revenue for 2021. The township takes the projected revenue from the previous calculation and increases it by an additional 4.1 percent.

Under the calculations, Vernon Township would be able to replace $226,347.55 of lost revenue from 2020. Given that the stimulus money is coming in two separate waves — with one allotment to come this summer and the next allotment coming in the summer of 2022 — this would almost completely spend the first half of the money Vernon Township will receiving, which will be $280,932.17.

Compared to other spending methods, the revenue replacement seemed easier and most effective. For example, the township could use the money for COVID-19 mitigation efforts, but it hasn't been doing much of that anyway, Horvat said.

Money could also be used for paying essential employees, though Horvat said that would be difficult to do and would only apply to the township police department, or for water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. In that latter case, the $500,000 simply isn't enough to do much in those departments.

"Unfortunately the amount we have wouldn't really do anything for either water or sewer," he said.

More guidelines on how the money can be spent are expected, according to Horvat, raising the possibility of the township shifting on what spending method it primarily utilizes.

Sean P. Ray can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at sray@meadvilletribune.com.

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