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Plum looks to become more involved in community center

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When the Plum Community Center needed a firm to manage its expansion project, borough officials found a company to do the job.

Borough staff also performed information technology services during the expansion project.

And earlier this year, the borough purchased a new telephone system and included the community center as part of the package.

Plum municipal Manager Michael Thomas said on Monday that the borough is looking to absorb more services at the center such as janitorial, finance, human resources, and auditing. Eventually, the center would become a borough department, he said.

“Ultimately, we want to assume different responsibilities over time — everything but the operational issues,” Thomas said.

The center is located on Center New Texas Road, and offers classes, activities and also schedules outings geared for older Plum residents.

The center recently dropped ‘senior' from its name in an attempt to attract younger seniors, such as people in their mid-50s.

Under the plan, center staff would continue to schedule programs, Thomas said.

The building is owned by the borough, which annually gives a donation to the center. Last year's donation was $50,000, Thomas said.

The center has its own staff — two full-time and six part-time employees — that is paid from the center's $250,000 annual budget.

The center also receives annual revenue from Allegheny County, from seniors who eat meals at the center or receive home-delivered meals and from fund-raising.

The manager said center staff members now do budgeting and perform other finance functions.

An outside firm conducts an annual audit at a cost of about $6,000 a year.

Plum leaders are looking to add the center's audit to the audit function performed by the borough auditor.

Also, the center has its own liability insurance policy. Officials are looking to add the center on to the borough's general liability policy, Thomas said.

Additionally, the borough would look to incorporate the center's employees into its health care plan.

Thomas estimates the initial savings in health benefit costs and the annual audit would be about $10,000.

Community center Executive Director Nina Segelson looks forward to working with officials on the plan to increase the borough's level of involvement.

“We have a lot of bugs to work out,” Segelson said. “We want to maintain the level of services we have.”

Thomas said the changes, which need to be approved by borough council, could be phased in beginning either July 1, 2014 or Jan. 1, 2015.

“It will help reduce costs at the center,” said Council Vice President Keith Nowalk, personnel committee chairman.

The borough budget year begins Jan. 1, while the center's budget year begins July 1.

Thomas said one of the council actions would be to consider creating a department that is the center and its functions as well as hiring the center's employees.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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