Latrobe OKs raising parking meter fines
By Joe Napsha
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
After months of haggling over whether to charge $10 or $5 for a parking ticket, Latrobe officials have finally approved new rates that set fines at $5 for the first day for illegal parking, with increases to $10 and $30 for scofflaws.
Council unanimously approved a rate system for parking meter violations that will set the fine at $5 until 4 p.m. of the first business day after the ticket is issued. The fine then will increase to $10 after 4 p.m. The fine jumps to $30 if not paid before the third business day after the ticket was issued.
The $10 parking fine was approved in September and attempts to drop it back to $5 or $3 failed in October.
A majority of council had argued that the city had to raise the parking tickets from $3 as an incentive to get drivers to obey the parking regulations and put money in the meters. Council members said that too many motorists were not paying for parking and taking their chances they would not get a ticket.
Councilman Richard Jim, who had previously argued for the fine to remain at $3 for at least the first day, asked fellow council members “is this the best we can do?”
Councilman Robert Forish quickly responded, “It's all you're getting out of me.”
In other business, council approved the city municipal authority's' plan to resolve overflows at the authority's sewage plant by building a 4-million-gallon tank to hold the extra volume of storm water and sewage during a heavy rainstorm. The sewage would be processed once the flow has returned to normal.
If a second phase of the project is necessary to solve the problem, plans call for construction of a 3.3-million-gallon holding tank.
The proposal Latrobe favors differs greatly from the one that the Unity supervisors approved last month to solve the same problem.
The supervisors supported the township municipal authority's plan to remove about 3,000 customers from the Nine Mile Run area served by the Latrobe Municipal Authority and pump sewage from those customers to an expanded Unity sewage plant along Fourteen Mile Run off Auction Barn Road.
The two engineering firms that developed the plans — Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co. Inc. for Latrobe and Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering Co. of Coraopolis for Unity — disagree on the construction costs and the financial impact on the customers. Latrobe's plan is projected to raise rates by $4.25 a month, while Unity's would raise rates by about $6 a month.
Both engineering firms say their plans will bring the region in compliance with Act 537, the state's Sewage Facilities Act that requires municipalities to develop and implement plans to resolve existing sewage problems and provide for future sewage needs of new land development. The plans are designed to address sewage overflows for Latrobe, Unity, Derry Township, Derry Borough and Youngstown.
Latrobe manager Alex Graziani said the state Department of Environmental Protection will have to decide which plan from the “dueling engineers” would best resolve the region's sewage problems.
Derry Township's municipal authority last month approved the Act 537 plan proposed by the Latrobe Municipal Authority.
Unity's municipal authority has contended its plan would eliminate a bottleneck of sewage flow near the Route 982 cloverleaf because the Latrobe Municipal Authority's line is smaller than Unity's.
Removing customers from Latrobe's system would allow Latrobe to add new customers, Unity officials said, but Jim said that a 1973 agreement would prevent Unity from taking Latrobe's customers without paying Latrobe's municipal authority.
Forish said he believes the state would not favor a plan that requires continual pumping of sewage. Latrobe's system is primarily gravity flow to its plant.
The two engineering plans are like “two horses of completely different color,” Councilman Ken Baldonieri said.
Councilwoman Rosie Wolford said it seems to her that there is an “unwillingness to work together.”
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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