Senator Fontana co-hosted with Representative Dan Deasy two Community Awareness Town Hall Meetings on the Heroin and Opiate Epidemic. Senator Fontana is pictured below speaking at the Dec. 14 Town Hall in Beechview. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services and Gateway Rehabilitation were all represented and participated.
Investing in the 42nd Senatorial District in 2016
There are many worthwhile projects in communities all throughout Pennsylvania that chase a finite amount of state dollars to supplement their efforts. These are projects that can help create and retain jobs, stimulate economic growth, rebuild communities, enhance safety, improve modes of transportation, protect our environment, upgrade infrastructure, and more.
Over the last several years, overall funding opportunities for the aforementioned types of projects have declined. As a result, competition among applicants has grown and there are many good projects that end up not being funded.
I am proud to have played a significant role this year in advocating for and supporting funding totaling over $20 million for some terrific projects in my district. In one form or another, these projects will improve the quality of life in communities all across the district.
Below is a listing of the investments being made in the district in 2016. Some of these funding victories I’ve highlighted throughout the year but below is a comprehensive list. Please know that as 2017 approaches I remain committed to ensuring that the 42nd Senatorial District receive its fair share of funding and that more projects are given the chance to compete for funding.
Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program
- $1.5 million – Three Crossings – The Riverfront Office complex is part of the Three Crossing mixed-use development situated between 25th and 27th Streets on the Allegheny River in the Strip District.
- $1 million – Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) – Funding is being used for BVRS’ new headquarters in the City of Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. For 104 years, BVRS has been a leader in programs and services for people of all ages who are blind, vision impaired, or who have other disabilities.
- $1 million – Heinz Lofts II Project, The Ferchill Group – Funding will assist in the transformation of a vacant, historic building into energy efficient, market rate housing in the Troy Hill neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s Northside.
- $1 million – RIDC Southwestern Pennsylvania – RACP funding is being used for infrastructure improvements, new building development, building redevelopment and the construction of a new parking garage at the Lawrenceville Technology Center site.
- $1 million – Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health – Funding is being used to help the Midwife Center expand their existing Strip District facility.
- $1 million – Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre – Funding is assisting the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s expansion efforts, the construction of a 21,540 square foot annex on to the existing building which will include two new studios, male and female locker rooms, additional public restrooms and space for wellness programming to serve residents of the Strip District, Lawrenceville and Polish Hill.
- $4 million – Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) – Funding will be used for public infrastructure improvements related to the redevelopment at the Produce Terminal in the Strip District.
- $2 million – Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (RAAC) – RAAC was awarded these funds for site preparation, three turf fields, lighting, parking and fencing for the 78-acre Sports & Athletics Complex at Montour Junction in Coraopolis.
Commonwealth Financing Authority – Multimodal Transportation Fund
- $1 million – Sports & Exhibition Authority – Funding is being used towards the Lower Hill District Redevelopment Infrastructure Project.
- $600,000 – City of Pittsburgh – Funding is being dedicated for a streetscape Complete Streets project in the City of Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood.
- $73,628 – Castle Shannon Borough – Funds were allocated for the Castle Shannon Multimodal Transit Infrastructure Improvement project.
- $500,000 – Associated Master Plumbers of Allegheny County – Funding was acquired for the Sheraden Community Pedestrian Safety Project in the Sheraden neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh. Funds will be used for a streetscape and pedestrian safety project.
- $350,000 – Northside Leadership Conference – Funds were awarded for the Northside Transportation Improvement Project and will be used to establish a streetscape along Guckert Way.
- $200,000 – Duquesne University – Funding provided for the final phase of the university’s pedestrian improvement project on Forbes Avenue.
- $200,000 – Bike Share Pittsburgh – Funds being used towards Phase II of the Pittsburgh Health Ride Project, adding 25 new bike stations throughout Pittsburgh.
- $232,077 – Crow Hill Development – Funding is provided for the Heinz Buildings Redevelopment Transportation Improvements and will be used for roadway infrastructure upgrades to support the overall redevelopment of three properties.
- $750,000 – McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation – Funds are allocated for Phase I of the Chartiers Avenue Gateway Streetscape Improvements project. This funding will be used for streetscape improvements in the McKees Rocks Business District along Chartiers Avenue.
- $1 million – URA – Funds will be used to help reconstruct a portion of Smallman Street in the Strip District.
- $492,616 – City of Pittsburgh – Funds provided for the Mon Wharf Switchback project which will make hiker-biker trail improvements at the Monongahela Wharf Switchback.
Commonwealth Financing Authority – Act 13 Programs
- $200,000 – Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy – Funding was provided for the restoration of the Allegheny Commons Fountain on the City of Pittsburgh’s Northside.
- $200,000 – Stowe Township – Funding provided to alleviate a storm runoff issue on Tunnel Way and protect the existing infrastructure.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (C2P2 Program)
- $115,000 – Bellevue Borough – Funding was granted for the rehabilitation of Bayne Park including the installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing, ADA access, landscaping, and sign improvements.
- $200,000 – Carnegie Borough – Funding provided to prepare a master site development plan for the 34-acre Carnegie Park.
Department of Environmental Protection
- $71,391 – Allegheny County – Funding used to reimburse up to 80 percent of the costs to revise Allegheny County’s solid waste management plan.
- $30,000 – Western PA Conservancy – Funding used to repair damaged creeks.
Community Infrastructure & Tourism Fund
- $250,000 – Dormont Public Library – Funding was used for the Dormont Library Retaining Wall Project.
- $125,000 – Ironworkers Joint Apprenticeship & Journeyman Training Fund – Funding was provided for Phase II of the Joint Apprenticeship Training Center, a 7,300 square foot addition to the existing building.
- $250,000 – Josh Gibson Foundation – Funds provided to assist with the construction of the Josh Gibson Heritage Park.
- $175,000 – Wood Street Commons – Funding acquired to make renovations including accessibility upgrades to the Residences at Wood Street.
- $200,000 – The Pittsburgh Project – Funds are being used to renovate and construct an indoor basketball facility in the Perry South neighborhood on the City of Pittsburgh’s Northside.
- $200,000 – Daisy Wilson Artist Community – Funding is allocated for the renovation and preservation of August Wilson’s childhood home in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood.
- $100,000 – Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh – Funding is being provided for system upgrades at the Children’s Museum.
- $80,000 – Vibrant Pittsburgh – Funds provided for the Connection Accelerator Project, an initiative to retain and integrate diverse talent into the workforce.
- $250,000 – Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County – Funding provided for the Allegheny Together Program, a program designed to support business development in traditional pedestrian-based business districts.
- $250,000 – Pittsburgh Historical & Landmarks Foundation – Funds provided for Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial Celebration.
- $100,000 – Visit Pittsburgh – Funds provided for tourism development of sporting events to the County.
Department of Corrections
- $1.5 million – Allegheny County & other counties – Funds provided to assist combating opioid addiction.
All Senate offices will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26. My offices will re-open as scheduled on Tuesday, Dec. 27. I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
Reminder - Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
I want to again remind everyone that the deadline to file for a rebate through the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue 2015 Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is Dec. 31. Applications are available at www.revenue.pa.gov or at my district offices and my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and over; widows and widowers age 50 and over; and people with disabilities age 18 and over. Homeowners with a maximum yearly income of $35,000 and renters with a maximum yearly income of $15,000 are eligible for a rebate. Keep in mind half of Social Security income is excluded. Some applicants who previously received rebates may continue to qualify despite Social Security cost-of-living adjustments that may have pushed their income past eligibility limits.
If you have already filed an application, have not received your rebate yet and wish to check on its status, please click here or visit www.revenue.pa.gov and click on the tab “Where’s My Property Tax/Rent Rebate?” on the home page.
Benefits of 529 College Savings Plans
As the year winds down, I want to make you aware of some of the benefits of opening or contributing to a Pennsylvania 529 College Savings Program Account before Dec. 31. The PA 529 College Savings Program offers two distinct plans, the PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) and the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP). Contributing to a 529 College Savings Account before the end of the year can help reduce your 2016 PA state taxable income while assisting a loved one pay for college.
Families who contribute before the end of this year can take advantage of Pennsylvania’s income tax deduction. Contributions up to $14,000 per beneficiary can be deducted from PA taxable income and married couples filing jointly can deduct up to $28,000 per beneficiary, provided each spouse has taxable income of at least the amount deducted. Additionally, earnings in a PA 529 plan are not subject to yearly taxes as they grow, and when used for qualified higher education expenses, earnings are tax-exempt when withdrawn.
The PA 529 GSP is designed to help savings grow to meet the future cost of education. When used for qualified higher education expenses, PA 529 GSP contributions grow at the rate of tuition inflation, subject to fees and premiums. For example, if you save enough for a semester at one of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education universities today, you will have enough for a semester there in the future, no matter when or how much tuition has gone up in the meantime. Anyone interested in opening a PA 529 GSP can do so by visiting www.PA529.com. Use enrollment code DEAL529 when prompted to save the $50 enrollment fee.
Pennsylvania also offers a second option, the PA 529 Investment Plan (IP), in which returns are based on financial market performance. The PA 529 IP features low fees and more than a dozen conservative and aggressive investment options from The Vanguard Group, one of the nation’s largest financial services companies. There is no enrollment fee for the PA 529 IP.
To learn more about the PA 529 College Savings Program, or to open or contribute to a PA 529 GSP or PA 529 IP please visit www.PA529.com or call 1-800-440-4000. Also, please visit www.PA529.com/contest to learn more about a contest where the PA 529 College Savings Program is giving away $529 for college.
Did You Know…
Did you know that at the end of last fiscal year, a record 208,000 families were saving with the PA 529 program, more than double the number of those saving five years ago?
Clean Diesel Grants
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is accepting applications for the Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grant Program through next Wednesday, Dec. 28. School districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, state agencies, non-profits, corporations, and limited liability companies or partnerships incorporated or registered in Pennsylvania that operate diesel fleets are eligible to apply. This program is funded through an annual allocation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Clean Diesel Program.
The Clean Diesel Grant Program’s goal is to improve air quality by decreasing emissions from diesel-powered motor vehicles. The program supports projects that re-power or retrofit fleet vehicles to curb emissions, purchase and install idle-reduction technology, or purchase clean alternative-fuel fleet vehicles.
All applications must be postmarked on or before Dec. 28. Faxes and electronic copies will not be accepted. To apply for a grant or to learn more about the program, please visit www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Air/BAQ under the heading “Grant Availability.”
Explore a Career with State Police
The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is reminding qualified candidates that the deadline to be considered for the next academy class is fast approaching. The PSP continually recruits new troopers to serve across the commonwealth. To be eligible for written exams scheduled for February 2017, interested applicants must submit their applications no later than Dec. 31. To view a complete list of prerequisites, to contact a recruiter, or to submit an application, please visit www.PATrooper.com.
Following the written exam, successful candidates will move on to the oral exam phase. Individuals selected through the exam process move on to the physical readiness test, polygraph test, background investigation, and medical and psychological evaluations before appointment as a cadet. The department is also seeking candidates with superior interpersonal skills.
Applicants must have completed at least 60 semester credit hours at an accredited college or university before being accepted to the academy, unless they have four years of previous law enforcement experience or four years of active military service. Although cadets are not required to be a Pennsylvania resident at the time of application, they must reside within the commonwealth and possess a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license at the time of graduation from the academy.
PSP troopers provide primary police coverage in more than 1,200 municipalities and also patrol all interstate highways. For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police, please visit www.psp.pa.gov.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is looking to fill three positions. The URA’s Finance Department has two Accountant positions open. These positions are responsible for daily processing of various accounting transactions and other duties as deemed necessary by the managing supervisor. The position requires a B.S. in Accounting or a high school diploma with 10 years of experience working in accounting and/or a related field.
The URA is also seeking a Construction Advisor in their Engineering and Construction Department. This position is responsible for all construction aspects of a project and requires a high school education, completion of a training program in the building trades, and at least three years of experience in building construction or rehabilitation.
Anyone interested in any of these positions should send a resume and letter of interest to:
Columbus C. Brooks, GCDF
Human Resources Manager
Urban Redevelopment of Authority of Pittsburgh
200 Ross Street, 12th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
More information on these openings is available at www.ura.org.
The Christmas Tree displayed in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg this year is a 22-foot Douglas fir that came from a tree farm in Carbon County.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
|Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library |
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212