GAEDC plans to repurpose tax-credit funds

The Greater Altoona Economic Development Corp. plans to redistribute about $37,000 in tax-credit money left over from a recently completed slate of Neighborhood Assistance Program projects that came in under budget.

Twenty-five thousand dollars will go to GAEDC’s facade-improvement program, $9,000 to the Mountain Lion BackPack Program and $3,000 to GAEDC for administration of funds, based on the recommendation of the corporation’s Strategic Planning Committee.

The money will supplement initial allocations of $20,000 for the facade program and $15,000 for the BackPack Program.

The leftover money comprises about $14,000 initially allocated to a streetscape project on Seventh Street near UPMC Altoona, which turned out to be cheaper because of help from the city with design, engineering, inspection and material purchases; $5,100 left over from a Blair County Community Action Agency weatherization project; $3,700 budgeted for an audit that wasn’t required; and a $15,000 contingency fund that didn’t need to be used, said GAEDC CEO Patrick Miller.

The additional funding for the facade program may help GAEDC sustain development momentum downtown, as there have been frequent requests for

facade mini-grants and loans.

The board also approved a $5,000 mini-grant and a $16,000 facade loan for the 1402-¢ Bakery and Lunch Room, due to open this fall; and a $5,000 mini-grant for Jim Colombo’s renovation of the former Flower Shoppe building, which complements a $32,000 loan for exterior work from the Altoona-Blair County Development Corp., GAEDC’s parent.

Before those allocations and before the infusion of repurposed money, the mini-grant fund held $7,500 and the facade loan fund held $92,000, according to Miller.

The BackPack Program, a local version of a national initiative that distributes food for weekends to students eligible for free or reduced meals in local districts — costs $1,400 a week to run, said board member Sergio Carmona, executive director of the Community Action Agency, which recently began administering the program after it became too much to handle as a volunteer operation.

“It’s a worthwhile effort,” Miller said.

At the suggestion of board member Jim Kuhn, Miller will clear the proposed redistribution with organizations that provided the tax credit money.

“It would be diplomatic,” Kuhn said.

“We can get concurrence,” Miller said.

UPMC Altoona contributed $100,000 to the program, Sheetz Inc. contributed $50,000, M&T Bank contributed $25,000 and KIZ Resources contributed $2,500.

The Neighborhood Assistance Program Special Priorities Tax Credit program is designed to help correct a special problem or fulfill a particular need within a neighborhood.

Companies with state tax liability contribute to the cause, then receive tax credits — or tax forgiveness — equivalent to 75 percent of their contributions.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.