Indiana Borough council Tuesday agreed to use about $130,000 of the borough’s Community Development Block Grant money in each of the next three years to pay off the $391,000 bank loan helping to finance the latest round of streetscape improvements in the downtown business district.
The ongoing downtown revitalization work is now centered on North Seventh Street, where a plaza-like area to be known as IRMC Park is nearing completion, and along Water Street, where new steps up to Vinegar Hill and a new retaining wall at the bottom of the steps are being built.
Councilman John Hartman said he hoped the motion to use the CDBG money to retire the loan would pass because the borough is obligated to pay off the debt. But then he added he would vote against the motion to emphasize what he said is a need for change in the priorities for the grant money.
The downtown business district has received its fair share of CDBG dollars for economic development, Hartman said, adding that more improvements in the downtown business district should no longer be the No. 1 priority for CDBG money after the loan is paid off.
Hartman said there are lots of other problems in the borough, including flood control, that need attention and will require dollars to correct. It’s been almost 10 years since CDBG money has been available for making infrastructure improvements, especially in residential neighborhoods, he said, because the grant money for so long has been earmarked for the downtown streetscape improvements and as the borough’s contribution to the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, borough manager Bill Sutton outlined a tentative schedule of meetings to prepare and pass a 2014 budget for the borough before Christmas. Council took one early budget action and approved the minimum amount the borough must contribute to meet its pension obligations for next year.
Under that budgetary plan, the borough must show an expenditure of $458,224 to meet its pension obligations, but the borough will also show state aid revenue of $299,068 for the pension, leaving the borough to come up with the remaining $159,156.
Council Tuesday also approved two conditional offers of employment to two prospective police officers. The offers were extended to Terry Cramer, of Penn Run, and Adam Lewis, of Colver.
Cramer’s tentative hire date will be Sept. 16, and Lewis is expected to join the force on Oct. 1.
Both men are U.S. Army veterans and their hiring will bring the Indiana Police Department up to 22 sworn officers.
Sutton said council’s Sept. 17 work session will have one focus — a dialogue between council members and members of the Indiana Borough Planning Commission on the borough’s traditional neighborhood development overlay zone and other aspects of the zoning ordinance.
And Robin Gorman, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s non-voting representative to council, invited council and the public to attend the university’s 9/11 memorial service that will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 11 in the Oak Grove on campus.
Indiana Mayor George Hood is coordinating another 9/11 memorial service that will start at noon on Sept. 11 at the Indiana Fire Association station along the 800 block of Water Street.