The Latrobe Council on Monday voted to change the city’s $ 6.5 million budget for 2021 by more than $ 409,000, which the city is expected to receive in one installment of federal pandemic recovery funding will.
City manager Michael Gray also suggested a number of projects and other expenses that the money could be used on. He was unable to estimate dollar numbers for certain projects and noted that they will be discussed further at the council meeting in September.
Gray stated that Latrobe should receive an amount similar to the second part of the restoration funding assigned to him.
At the top of the list of proposed expenditures that would be in line with funding guidelines are public health expenditures and loss of income.
Gray said replenishing the city with personal protective equipment is a priority while the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
“We want to make sure the staff and everyone else who comes (to town hall) is safe,” he said.
Gray also suggested updating and expanding various technologies used by the city, its council, and the police force.
He said Latrobe should update its cybersecurity software, as well as the technology that allows council members and the public to virtually attend council meetings during the pandemic.
The sessions were reopened for the personal attendance of all. Gray well-known members of the public can still opt to participate virtually, but council members cannot vote on agenda items when attending remotely.
He suggested buying tablet devices for the council to reduce the thick paper documents everyone receives for meetings.
Additionally, Gray would like to see an update to the security camera technology the city has placed around City Hall and on nearby downtown streets to create “a police-controlled network.” He said the cameras were often an aid to police investigations.
While some shops in downtown Latrobe have their own security cameras, Gray said, “It’s difficult to get this onto our network.”
Gray also expressed hope that Latrobe can use some of the redevelopment funding to renew additional roads that it was unable to include in this summer’s paving project. He said one area that can use fresh asphalt is a section of Ligonier Street that leads to Chestnut Street and connects to other parts of Ligonier that are in the process of being rebuilt by PennDOT as part of several downtown intersections and traffic lights were paved.
“The paving would take some time,” he said of the tender for this potential project. “It would probably be postponed to spring, but I can see we’re getting on with some other things.”
Gray also suggested several projects to improve rainwater, including eliminating flooding in Jefferson and Gertrude Streets and replacing the deteriorating paved surface of the Courtyard Plaza next to the municipal parking garage with a permeable material that would allow better water drainage.
The council is already examining the modernization of a similarly aging ramp that leads down from the street to the square.
“We’re trying to make a big project out of this,” he said of the Plaza improvements.
In a separate effort, the city plans to replace a brick sidewalk adjoining a city parking lot at the rear of the Adams Memorial Library.
Gray said the bricks were displaced by the freeze-thaw cycle. “There is a risk of tripping,” he said. “It needs an upgrade.”