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City Council talks equipment and more

City council talked vehicles at Monday night’s meeting, but not how those vehicles might eventually get through the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Market Street.

City of Warren Fire Chief Rodney Wren said two department vehicles need to be replaced.

The dollars for one of those is in the budget.

One truck that is only suitable for local travel and the department’s quick response vehicle both date from 2004.

There is a line item for $28,199 in the department’s budget for the first vehicle.

Wren asked council to consider adding funding to the budget and replacing the two trucks with one new vehicle.

He said the cost through Costars, the state’s cooperative purchasing program, would be $48,383 for the truck and $4,816 for “upfitting” — a total of $53,199.

He said Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz said his department could delay purchase of a new vehicle, allowing a transfer of $25,000 between the department budgets to make up the difference.

Council approved that transfer, but Councilman John Wortman questioned the timing.

“We’ve had four fire department vehicles (counting the two on Monday) replaced within the last four or five months,” Wortman said. “Why has there not been a more systematic effort? We should be staggering these purchases.”

City Manager Nancy Freenock answered for Wren, who was sworn in in August and had not been with the city department before that.

She said city officials were aware that an engine would have to be replaced and had been working on finding funding for that. The need to replace the second truck, the city’s aerial ladder truck, “was a surprise to everyone,” she said.

That trucks from 2004 need to be replaced was not a surprise. “The (former) chief was very good at keeping equipment going until they fall apart,” Freenock said. It just so happened that everything fell apart at the same time.

Police Chief Brandon Deppen also talked about new vehicles.

He told council that the city’s application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for funding for two new police interceptors — just like the current black SUVs — came through, with $51,300 in grant dollars and $42,000 in a loan.

Deppen said the $42,000 is in the department’s budget and the loan will be paid back immediately.

Planning commission

The city has some openings on its numerous boards and commissions.

On Monday, council approved the appointment of a current member of the Parks and Recreation Commission to the Planning Commission. Mike Suppa will now serve on both panels.

Freenock said there is not expected to be any kind of conflict with one person serving on both boards and that despite publication online and in the Times Observer, no other applicants stepped forward.

Roundabout

The discussion of the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Market Street that was on the agenda for Monday’s meeting was crossed out.

PennDOT asked the city to delay any further reconsideration of the work at the intersection — a roundabout or an improved, signalized intersection — until the department could deliver more information.

District Executive Jim Foringer said a detailed estimate and the explanation of it would take time.

Council did not discuss the intersection at all on Monday.

Freenock said the matter would be on the agenda for the March 16 meeting if the city receives the information from PennDOT.

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