Scott applies for aid to repair flooding damage

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Scott commissioners have initiated steps to obtain state and federal assistance for homeowners affected by flooding and water damage from storms in July.

Commissioners adopted a resolution Monday that would allow the township to obtain financial assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, which has undergone several revisions since it was adopted in 1988 as an amended version of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974.

The federal law allows communities like Scott that have sustained flooding to obtain grants for 100 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

While officials are pleased about the potential grants, they are unsure if residential claims will be covered. Homeowners have repeatedly asked commissioners about financial assistance for repairs.

Particularly hard hit were homes in Wards 3 and 4, which straddle Bower Hill Road; Ryan Drive in Ward 9; and Scrubgrass Road in Ward 8. Some residents said they have been affected by flooding from heavy rainstorms and melting snow as far back as the 1960s. Others told of being afraid to leave their homes when rains begin.

While optimistic that money for repairs and flood resolution could be forthcoming, board President Tom Castello warned everyone not to get their hopes up.

"This is a brand new program," he said. "We don't know what's going to happen."

He also said that board members are grateful to township manager Denise Fitzgerald for learning about it.

After last summer's storms, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh undertook some flood control measures to prevent future runoff from its Our Lady of Grace church and school property on Kane Boulevard onto nearby residential properties.

In other business, the commissioners approved an $11.8 million budget for 2014, with no new taxes. The real estate tax levy will be 4.33 mills, with 0.0776 mills dedicated to the township library.

Vote on the budget was 7-1, with Bill Wells voting no and Dave Calabria absent.

Mr. Wells said later that he could not support the budget because he believes one budget meeting involving the three finance committee members was held illegally because there was no public notice or advertisement.

"I can't vote for a budget that they circumvented the Sunshine Law to pass," he said. "I just don't think it's right."

Information obtained from the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition supports his position.

"All municipal governing bodies and their committees are covered by the [Sunshine] Act," the coalition response said.

Mr. Wells also complained that board members were not given enough time to look over the proposed 60-page budget. Members had 10 minutes to study the document, he said.

In other action, the board approved a proclamation to honor the Bower Hill Volunteer Fire Department for 90 years of service.

Also, Pat Martin of Center Street pointed out that there is a discrepancy about the Route 50 names for the Tri-Community Revitalization project involving Carnegie, Scott and Heidelberg. One reads "Washington Pike," which is in Collier.

Mrs. Martin also noted that a sign at Creek Street and Carothers Avenue is leaning. "It's been hit already," replied Mrs. Fitzgerald, who added that the sign confusion will be corrected because the road is a state road.

Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer:

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