WORKING CAPITAL After taking over as finance director in 2013, Andrew McCreery started looking for ways to make a good system even better.
In 2014, McCreery sent out a request for proposals to banks, to see if there were better, more cost-effective ways to manage municipal money. He worked with assistant finance director Terri Windstein, who did most of the research into other options over a nine-month process, negotiating investment interest rates with banks and reviewing what services the banks could provide that we weren’t getting now.
“Citizens Bank was our bank, and they were basically out of the government banking business,” says McCreery.
The changes took effect on January 1, 2015, with money market and other types of investment accounts at WesBanco. The total interest income from all those accounts last year came to $279,480. Total interest income in 2013, before the switch was about $13,000.
Almost half of the interest income comes from taking the money we collect for sewage and stormwater bills and holding onto it until the end of the year, when our payment to ALCOSAN is due.
“The sewage fund just sits there,” says McCreery. “We fully age it.”
Same with the $500,000 Mt. Lebanon invests early in the year from PennDOT for street repairs that don’t happen until the summer. We have time enough to buy a nine-month CD.
Other changes in cash management to increase the flow: switching to a purchasing card that gives 1 percent cash rebates brought in $24,320 in 2018. A 1 percent discount with our trash hauler, Waste Management, will save $21,180 in 2019.
“We try to maximize our idle money,” says McCreery. “We’re always looking for ways to maximize.”
SEWER ORDINANCE UNDER CONSIDERATION Mt. Lebanon has spent years and millions of dollars upgrading its municipal sewer system to make sure stormwater does not get into the separate sanitary sewer system. But despite our hefty investment and proactive approach, water is still getting inside, which contributes to unacceptable overflows of sewage into our waterways.
One way to keep stormwater out of the sanitary system is to make sure residential sewer lateral lines—the pipes that take wastewater from our homes and carry it to the municipal sanitary system—aren’t damaged, allowing stormwater to get in.
The Environmental Protection Agency is considering requiring Mt. Lebanon, and all the other communities of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, to reduce flow into the sanitary sewer system. As a result, commissioners are considering an ordinance that would require homeowners who want to sell their homes to have their lateral sewer lines tested, and higher levels of damage repaired, before the property can be transferred. The procedure could be similar to the current process for having a home’s storm lines dye tested to make sure they do not drain into the sanitary sewer line. Upper St. Clair, Fox Chapel, Monroeville, Plum, Brentwood and South Fayette are among the other communities that have similar lateral testing ordinances in place.
Because of the potential cost of the program and because federal mandates may be involved, the commission is taking careful steps to investigate all potential consequences of the proposed ordinance before acting. You can find more details about what is proposed, as well as drawings to explain the sewer system at www.mtlebanon.org/3439/Proposed-Lateral-Sewer-Testing.
A METERED RESPONSE No matter why you got a parking ticket in Mt. Lebanon—expired meter, parking too long in a limited zone, parking on the street after 2 a.m.—you now have an easier and more efficient way to pay or appeal your ticket.
If you’d like to pay the ticket, you have four ways to do it:
• Online (fees may apply)
• By mail. Enclose a check or money order and mail to: Mt. Lebanon Parking Office, 710 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228 (include the violation number on the payment).
• In person. Come to the ground floor of the municipal building Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. through 5 p.m.
• Collection boxes. Enclose payment (check preferred) with the ticket in an envelope and put in one of the fine boxes in the business district.
All checks should be made payable to Mt. Lebanon, PA.
But what if you feel you received the ticket in error? Maybe the meter wasn’t working or you called in for overnight parking permission but your car did not end up on the approved list. It’s now easier to appeal. The first step is to request an appeal with the parking administrator online at mylebo.mtlebanon.org or call 412-343-3705. You can submit evidence, such as a picture of the meter that isn’t working, either electronically or by mail.
If you win your appeal, you’re done. If not, you can choose to pay the fine or submit a request online or in writing for a hearing with the Mt. Lebanon Traffic Board within 30 days. If you win that, you’re done. If not, you can choose to pay it or appeal to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
One quick note: If you have five or more outstanding parking violations or three or more outstanding parking citations your car may be towed or booted. For questions, contact the parking administrator, Mark Quealy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GET OUT PAINT OUT Budding painters get their chance to make art at the 2019 Plein Air Kids Paint Out on Saturday, May 11, in Uptown Mt. Lebanon. Here’s the deal: Kids in three age categories go outside, paint what they see, then compete for awards. It’s fun, gets them out in the fresh air and provides lots of great art for display in the municipal building. Register ahead of time for a $5 fee at www.mtlebopartnership.org. The fee goes up to $10 on May 10 and 11, including walk-up registration.
On the day of the Paint Out, onsite registration in the municipal building, 710 Washington Road, is from 11 a.m. to noon. The Paint Out itself is noon to 2, judging and reception is 2 to 2:45, with awards announced at 2:45. Age categories are: 3 to 5; 6 to 8; and 9 to 12.
The Paint Out is presented by the Mt. Lebanon Partnership, the nonprofit group that organizes lots of fun events in town. Proceeds help fund arts initiatives in Mt. Lebanon to keep the art going for the next generation.
HELPING THE MARKET It may seem like Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22 are a long way off, but members of the Mt. Lebanon Partnership are working feverishly to coordinate everything for that weekend’s Mt. Lebanon Artists’ Market, a shopping, food and music festival in the Academy Avenue parking lot.
It takes a lot of people to pull off a regional event of this size and caliber and there’s really only one way they can do it—with volunteers. So here’s your chance to get involved and help elevate the festival.
Here are some things you can do:
Volunteer The Mt. Lebanon Partnership needs physical help on both days of the market, assisting with the raffle, helping the artists, distributing programs and other fun tasks. Sign up by messaging email@example.com.
Become a sponsor Sponsors make everything possible by providing the money needed to take care of every detail. Learn about opportunities at mtlebanonartistsmarket.com or call organizer Steve Denenberg at 412-760-8210.
Become a patron Patrons help make the scholarships possible for a Mt. Lebanon resident about to begin a post-high school art education. Visit the website for donation information.
LOCAL GOV 101 Three Mt. Lebanon High School seniors are participating in a municipal pilot program that is giving them a chance to learn more about how local government works.
Peter Garlitz will be attending Penn State University in the fall. He is captain of the soccer team, a member of the National Honor Society and is involved with the Link Crew program, which smoothes the transition from middle school to high school.
Myles Greenbaum will be studying political science at American University next year. “I love politics and government, and it’s an honor to be included in this internship,” he says.
Katie Lin ran on the cross country team and is active in forensics. She also is involved in theater and chorus and was a member of some band ensembles. She has not committed to a college yet, but plans to study drama and psychology.
Spearheaded by Mt. Lebanon Assistant Manager/Planner Ian McMeans, the program is tailored to the students’ interests. In addition to attending commission and other public meetings and shadowing staff members, interns are invited to take a look at the municipal budget process, see how policies are developed and implemented, discuss the importance of public outreach and effective communication and explore other related topics.
GET ON BOARD If you are interested in volunteering your time and talent to serve on one of Mt. Lebanon’s 18 boards and authorities, you can pick up an application at the municipal building, 710 Washington Road, or online.
If you have applied for a board previously, your application will remain on file for two years and will be considered if a board member does not complete their term.
Earlier this year, 17 residents began serving terms on various boards:
Environmental Sustainability: Bethany Foster-Wilhelm, Timothy Reidy and Heather Wechter.
Equal Opportunity: Jennifer Eck, Kristin Meier, Josephine Posti, Corinne Vipperman and Mary Beth Waine.
Historic Preservation: Alex Ferraro and Phillip Neusius.
Pension Investment: Colin Connolly.
Sports Advisory: Amelia Kelly, Megan O’Brokta, and Shelly Saba.
Traffic: Jared Whitehead.
Zoning Hearing: Matthew Clark and Jeffrey Graybill.
LARGE GRANT FOR STREETSCAPE A comprehensive street-scape improvement plan for Mt. Lebanon’s Central Business District on Washington Road got a huge boost, thanks to a $750,000 Multimodal Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority. The grant will be combined with two previous awards—a $200,000 and a $91,500 grant from the state’s Gaming Economic Development Fund—to help further fund the project.
The Mt. Lebanon streetscape plan, in its early stages, calls for upgrades to the infrastructure of Washington Road and specifically new light poles, electrical conduit and LED lighting, along with new brushed concrete sidewalks.
Commercial Districts Manager Eric Milliron credits state Rep. Dan Miller and state Sen. Jay Costa for helping to secure the grant.
“This support is critical to a project that will provide a safe district through new sidewalks and updated street lighting,” Milliron says. “We couldn’t do it without it.”
HISTORIC HOUSES The Historical Society of Mount Lebanon is selling medallions identifying those properties in the Mt. Lebanon Historic District as contributing to the historic designation. The cast aluminum medallions are 6 inches in diameter and include mounting screws and anchors. Cost is $214. To see if your house is in the historic district, check the map.