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Gettysburg Borough Considers Use of Federal Stimulus Money, Drafts New Policy on Short-Term Rentals

Gettysburg Borough Manager Charles Gable said the borough would be getting about $1,000 per resident, for a total of $763,656, from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and that it would come over two years, with the first arriving in a few months.  The money must be spent by September 2024.  Gable said the borough should use the funds to prioritize fiscal stability and returning to work.

“There’s never been a package out of Washington DC like this. What really sets this package apart from other types of funding from the federal government is that it is both direct and non-competitive. Everyone is going to get something,” said Gable.

Gable said the act was also unusual because much of the money was being directed to state and local governments, whereas most federal legislation does not do so. “This is a very large package that deals with a lot of different things,” said Gable.

Gable said that across the country there have been about $90 billion in revenue shortfalls.  “Not everyone is going to be able to make up for all they lost last year.  Although the money is going to be helpful it’s not going to completely make us whole.”

Council member Wes Heyser reminded council that the borough came up $700,000 short in revenue last year, about the same amount as the money coming in. “One of our first responsibilities in my opinion is restoring our safety net. Then we can move forward from there.  It sounds like we’re getting a lot of money. But we also had a major problem.  The first responsibility is restoring the fund balance. That will allow us to make choices,” he said.

Heyser noted the borough would need to have money on hand for matching funds in forthcoming grant applications.

Councilmember Patti Lawson said it would be important to develop partnerships within the county when spending the money and president Jake Schindel said the county would be sending a survey to coordinate with the boroughs.

Short term rentals

The borough is moving forward on a new ordinance on short-term rentals including bed and breakfasts, inns, vacation rentals, and home stays.

The revisions are designed to coordinate local definitions with state definitions and help assure adequate housing in the borough. “It’s quite obvious that a lot of properties that have been bought up are being used commercially,” said Schindel.

Under the new guidelines, bed and breakfasts are defined as being owner-occupied and limited to 10 rooms whereas inns can have up to 20 rooms and do not need to be owner-occupied.

Home stays are defined as owner-occupied with only 2 rooms and can be rented for up to 21 days.

Under the proposed ordinance, bed and breakfasts, inns, home stays, and vacation rentals will not be allowed in the R1 and R2 residential districts.

“We’re not talking about prohibiting vacation rentals or home stays; we’re just talking about limiting them in residential areas so they’re not competing with residential uses,” said Director of Planning, Zoning, and Code Enforcement Carly Marshall.

Grant Coordination

Gable considered the many sources of grant funding available in the county and the difficulty of coordinating them. “These things are complex,” said Gable, noting the borough was working on ways to better coordinate the various application processes.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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