I feel like the old man on the commission this year. I often feel old, especially after a night of playing basketball, but to feel like the entrenched person on the commission is strange. Just three years ago, all of this was so new to me. I remember seeing the daunting amount of information in my weekly packet, and I also remember realizing that half of the things I was reading gave me more questions than answers. But with the support of fellow commissioners and our phenomenal staff, I caught up. Much of what perplexed me when I started makes perfect sense three years later.
This year, with three new commissioners, I thought we would move a little more deliberately. Apparently, new commissioners Bendel, Linfante and Fraasch disagreed, for this year was our most productive on the commission in my three years. I commend our new commissioners for how quickly they hit the ground running. I doubt we will be slowing down at all this year. We already have heard quite a few new ideas to explore. I think people will see that this commission is actively trying to improve Mt. Lebanon.
I now understand why many refer to the commission as a “new commission” every time the membership changes. Each new commissioner brings a new perspective, new ideas and even a new idea of how to be a good commissioner. As new perspectives are brought to the table, even the veteran commissioners can find their positions changing or perhaps are inspired to re-examine old problems and come up with new solutions.
This last year, my fellow commissioners often challenged me. Sometimes we came to a solution that really seemed like an improvement; other times we could not. But whatever the issue, we explored all the options we were aware of and tried to make the best decision for the community. In our discussions, I believe we helped one another and the community. This year, we will be making adjustments to our discussion meetings to facilitate even better discussions. We will also try to also improve access to the video of our meetings and the public’s access to the commission process.
It is not just the commission that was challenged by our pace. We put considerable demands on our municipal staff, asking more of them than we ever have before. Multiple large ventures, such as a recreation bond, a guaranteed energy savings bond, departmental reviews, international accreditation for the fire department, the restructuring of parking operations and multiple commission strategy sessions resulted in a lot of work for our staff. As has been true each of my three years, the staff performed above and beyond the call.
This year, as we continue our focus on developing new revenue sources and expanding existing ones, we will call on our staff again. As we continue to search for efficiencies in our budget, we will look to the department heads for help. As our new capitals projects are planned, we will ask the staff for their input and vigilance. And of course we will also look to you, the residents, to stay informed. We will ask you to speak up when you have an idea or a criticism. Collectively we have a lot of work to do this year, but if we work together we can do it.