Latrobe officials defend spending practices
Latrobe city officials Monday defended the use of public money for certain improvements to and projects for the community.
During council’s voting meeting, Irving Avenue resident James Bolton questioned borrowing and spending, from street equipment to recreation.
“We can’t keep borrowing money. You get money and you save it. You don’t go out and spend it,” Bolton said.
Earlier in the meeting, council agreed to purchase a street sweeper from Golden Equipment Co. of Mars. The $211,524 cost will be financed through the low bidder, 911Leasing.com, at an interest rate of 2.7 percent over five years.
The purchase is dependent on the state Local Government Unit Debt Act’s approval.
Solicitor Zachary Kansler said he anticipated the loan would be approved.
Bolton questioned council’s decision in January to use $200,000 from the sale of city property to the Greater Latrobe School District for Latrobe-GLSD Parks and Recreation. Wolford said money will reimburse the parks and recreation department for equipment at the Old Athletic Field that it had paid for and must be relocated or replaced.
Council in November approved an ordinance for the $400,000 sale of the property, where the district intends to build a new school.
The Old Athletic Field is managed by Latrobe-GLSD Parks and Recreation. Half of the sale price included a dek hockey rink, playground, ball courts and a concession-type building on the property, city officials said.
That money, Bolton said, could have helped pay for the street sweeper, rather than taking on a loan.
Bolton also questioned the city’s new Lincoln Avenue Trail.
Mayor Rosemarie Wolford said the trail’s $500,000 cost was financed with a state grant, donations and a city contribution of $35,000.
“For that, we have a bike trail that is used by more people than I’ve seen on any path,” she said.
“That’s part of our job, to help people have things to do in our community. For $35,000, we got a $500,000 project,” Wolford said.
Cherry Street resident Ron Sinemus said the trail’s popularity has helped deter criminal activity in the area.
“It’s the best thing you ever did,” he said.
Council appointed public works employee Michael Gray to the new position of working foreman, a managerial position and backup to the director’s position.
Public works Director Joe Bush died unexpectedly March 1.
Gray will receive a $1-per-hour salary increase and serve a six-month probationary term.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, email@example.com or via Twitter .