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Consultant hired for fire department

| Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 10:09 a.m.

In an effort to resolve lingering issues with the borough's fire department, Carnegie Council voted 6-0 Monday night to hire Mt. Lebanon fire Chief Nick Sohyda as a consultant on an as-needed basis.

Sohyda will be paid $50 an hour for his services. Councilman Pat Catena said officials would seek his advice on an ongoing basis, especially within the next six months.

Borough officials have been trying for the past year to pass an ordinance denoting the Carnegie Volunteer Fire & Rescue Bureau as a volunteer department rather than a paid entity. Sohyda will work to address “deficiencies” in the ordinance before council votes on its passage, council President Rick D'Loss said.

“The ordinance is our first priority,” Carena said. “We hope to have that turned around in the next 30 days.”

Sohyda also will provide consulting services regarding the purchase of a new aerial truck for the fire department, which D'Loss said would cost more than $1 million, and other issues with the fire department.

“We felt that we did not have enough expertise on council to address this,” D'Loss said. “(Sohyda) is recognized as an expert in our region on fire departments.”

Discussion also continues about the department's finances. Monday, council held separate votes on whether to pay the department's building and land-loan mortgages and attorney fees for March.

Council approved the mortgage vote, 4-2, with Councilman Bob Veres and Catena dissenting. Catena said he dissented because the Carnegie EMS is listed on the mortgage, and the money is specifically earmarked for the fire department.

The vote for attorney fees ended in a 3-3 tie, with Catena, Veres and Mike Sarsfield dissenting. Mayor Jack Kobistek broke the tie by voting to pay the attorney fees.

Coming down

In other business, council voted 6-0 to authorize its borough engineer to prepare specifications and authorize for bids to demolish the Pucci Apartments on Third Street.

The building was condemned in 2009, and council voted 5-1 in October 2012 to purchase the property.

Third Street is slated for improvement with the upcoming Tri-Community Revitalization Project, and Sarsfield said the building demolition will help improve the look of the area.

Sarsfield said demolition could occur within the next three or four months.

New engineer

The borough hired a new engineering firm in February after cutting ties with Gateway Engineers.

KLH Engineers Inc., located on Campbells Run Road in Robinson, will now oversee operations, such as the borough's road maintenance program and sewer projects. The firm won't charge the borough a monthly retainer fee.

With time-sensitive projects like the borough's road-paving program on the docket, D'Loss said KLH has its work cut out.

“It's a very busy time with a lot of projects and work,” D'Loss said.

Gateway Engineers was the borough's engineering firm for more than 15 years, but D'Loss said the relationship “grew a little bit tired.” Problems that developed within the past year, such as flooding on Washington and Franklin avenues and a problem with a sewer repair on Chestnut Street, also contributed to the decision, D'Loss said.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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