Latrobe Council on Monday voted to amend the city’s $6.5 million 2021 budget to include more than $409,000 the city expects to receive in an installment of federal pandemic recovery funding.
City Manager Michael Gray also proposed a series of projects and other expenditures where the money could be applied. He wasn’t able to estimate dollar figures for specific projects, noting they’ll be addressed further at council’s September meeting.
Gray indicated Latrobe should receive a similar amount as the second portion of the recovery funding it has been allocated.
Topping the list of proposed expenditures that would meet the funding guidelines are those addressing public health and revenue loss.
Gray said restocking the city with personal protective equipment is a priority while the covid-19 pandemic continues.
“We want to to make sure the employees are safe and everyone else who comes in (to city hall),” he said.
Gray also suggested upgrading and expanding various technology used by the city, its council and police.
He said Latrobe should update its cyber-security software and also technology it used to allow council members and the public to participate virtually in council meetings during the pandemic.
Meetings have been reopened to in-person attendance by all. Gray noted members of the public still may choose to attend virtually, but council members may not vote on agenda items if they participate remotely.
He proposed purchasing tablet devices for use by council to cut down on thick paper documents each receives to refer to for meetings.
In addition, Gray would like to see technology updated for surveillance cameras the city has posted surrounding city hall and on nearby downtown streets, to make “a network controlled by the police department.” He said the cameras have often been a help in police investigations.
While some downtown Latrobe businesses have their own security cameras, Gray said, “It’s tough to try to get that into our network.”
Gray also expressed hope that Latrobe can use some of the recovery funding to resurface additional streets that it wasn’t able to include in this summer’s paving project. He said one area that can use fresh asphalt is a section of Ligonier Street leading up to Chestnut Street, joining other portions of Ligonier that were just repaved as part of PennDOT’s improvement of several downtown intersections and traffic signals.
“The paving would take some time to get together,” he said of bidding of that potential project. “It probably would be moved to the spring, but I can see us moving ahead with some of the other things.”
Gray also proposed several stormwater improvement projects, including abatement of flooding at Jefferson and Gertrude streets and replacement of the deteriorating paved surface of the Courtyard Plaza, next to the city parking garage, with a permeable material that would allow for better water drainage.
Council already is looking at updating a similarly aging ramp that leads down to the plaza from street level.
“We’re trying to turn this into one big project,” he said of the plaza improvements.
In a separate effort, the city is looking to replace a brick sidewalk adjoining a city parking lot at the rear of Adams Memorial Library.
Gray said the bricks have been subject to displacement by the freeze-and-thaw cycle. “It’s a tripping hazard,” he said. “It’s in need of an upgrade.”