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Murrysville weighs 5-year capital improvement plan

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

During the next five years, Murrysville officials plan to overhaul security at the municipal building, fix traffic- light problems on Route 22 and buy new public-safety equipment as part of a nearly $10.6 million capital improvement plan.

Council was slated to approve the five-year plan Wednesday.

Among the most immediate of those plans is a proposal to upgrade security in the reception area at the municipal building in early 2014. Chief administrator Jim Morrison said a receiving window will be installed to the right of the door that leads to municipal offices. That door, which now allows access to anyone entering the building, will become accessible only with a keycard, he said.

Council President Joan Kearns questioned the upgrades.

“Are we basically going into lockdown?” Kearns said. “If you're a general resident, you can't get in. Isn't that a bit of an overreaction?”

To an extent, it is, Morrison said.

“It is unfortunate,” Morrison said. “I don't know that I would want to be responsible on my watch for an event. But do I think it will ever happen? No.”

Officials also plan to spend about $236,000 on upgrades to the traffic cameras on Route 22. Morrison recommends replacing the current camera-detection system — which cycles the signals based on traffic flow — with radar-detection cameras at nine intersections. About 26 detectors would be installed.

Morrison said he hopes that project can be paid for, at least in part, through a state grant.

The proposal includes the purchase of new dump trucks with a plow and salt spreader, three new police cars and a new police motorcycle.

However, much of the money in the capital reserve fund has restricted uses, finance director Diane Heming said. For instance, about $512,000 expected in revenues from Marcellus shale drilling impact fees can be used only for state-designated purposes. Another $400,000 can be used only for emergency equipment.

Instead, Heming said the projects will be funded in part by a plan to transfer about $200,000 each year from money in the municipal general fund's unreserved balance.

“Without that, this plan became a little harder to fund projects, especially in 2017 and 2018,” Heming said. “We might as well start again to build up reserves as we did in the past.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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