Commissioner’s Farewell: Bonnie VanKirk

For the last six months I have had the privilege of serving as the appointed commissioner in Ward 1. I have enjoyed working with the other four commissioners. We don’t always agree, but we work together for the benefit of the community. A commissioner represents all of the citizens of Mt. Lebanon, regardless of political party.

Before each meeting, commissioners receive a six-inch-thick packet with agendas, proposed ordinances, issues to consider and general information. We review the information before meetings, so we are prepared to discuss, vote or take other action as appropriate. Eventually, just about everything that happens in Mt. Lebanon comes before the commission, including zoning requests, traffic signs and controls, capital projects, new vehicle and equipment requests and anything else that affects daily life in our community.

During my tenure, we had a few major issues before us. We approved the storm water fee to update our aging storm sewers. The average homeowner will pay $96 per year to improve the sewers, eliminating basement and street flooding and, in extreme cases, the possibility of bodily harm.

The commission currently is discussing a recreation bond issue that would upgrade our swimming pool and athletic fields and develop the fields at McNeilly Park. These improvements have been delayed for too many years and should be moved forward.

And, as I write, the annual budget (which will have passed by the time you read this) is under review for approval by the commission. We rely on the expertise of our department heads to advise us on what is essential for them to operate their departments efficiently. Citizens also have the opportunity to come to budget review meetings to voice their opinions and concerns.

As I left my position last month, I realized what an exceptional management team Steve Feller has recruited for Mt. Lebanon. Our fire and police departments are recognized nationally for their excellent firefighting, crime prevention and community outreach. Public works is a mini-militia operation working on snow, leaves, streets, sidewalks, fields and anything else related to our infrastructure. Our public information, recreation and economic development departments work to promote Mt. Lebanon and make it a desirable place to live. Our award-winning library is a destination in itself. The finance, IT and inspection departments and our excellent and talented support staff are the “behind the scenes” people who keep this community humming.

Thanks to the volunteers who devote countless hours on boards and authorities. And, not to forget, the “regulars,” who appear at commission meetings to present their views and ideas. They are truly dedicated citizens trying to make a difference.

Best wishes to our new commissioners, present commissioners and past commissioners who helped make Mt. Lebanon the place it is today.