Police Chief Bruce Mathews approached Kittanning Borough Council last night with concerns that there is no one currently performing maintenance on parking meters in the downtown business district.
“With the retirement of Dave Cox, a Borough employee, his previous duties included meter certification, repair and upkeep (Of meters), and mechanic duties. To my understanding, that hasn’t been resolved yet. I am bringing it to your attention and asking for direction where we can keep these (meters) in operation and our costs to a minimum.”
According to Mathews, the mechanisms in the meters need regularly oiled to keep them from sticking. This further becomes a problem during the winter season when meters are subject to colder temperatures requiring more maintenance.
Mathews said learning to repair meters is not a major learning curve, but that certifying meters are accurate requires a person with certification from the Department of Agriculture.
Councilman Joe Kiehlmeier asked if the police department could handle repairs since the Parking Meter Attendant is regularly observing the operation of the meters daily.
“The timing and repair (of the meter) go hand in hand,” Mathews explained. “If it doesn’t get certified, it has to be pulled out to fix. It is not a good use of resources when you have to go from a police officer’s hand to someone who can repair it. Traditionally it has been done by the Street Department.”
In response to a question by Councilman David Croyle, Mathews said there are almost 250 meters that are currently in inventory that could be swapped out if a meter in service now needs repair. Croyle asked Mathews how many meters are in need of repair each month.
“It varies,” Mathews responded. “In the winter time, most of the jams are dealing with water freezing and thawing. Then those are pulled and sent down (for repair to maintenance building). But now we have nobody to pull them to check to see if it a malfunction or is this a temporary jam due to something weather-related.”
Mathews said that the current inventory of already repaired meters would probably carry the Borough through until early summer before repair and recycling of broken meters would have to occur.
“Mr. Cox was hands-on with them, so they were being oiled as a problem was being reported with one. Because they are mechanical, that does happen quite frequently. It would be pulled and brought in and one in reserve would be put in its place. That new one would be lubed, set in place, so they have been very reliable because they have been properly maintained. I don’t want to get behind (in maintenance).
“The parking enforcement is bitter-sweet. It is a necessary evil, as many people have called it. But to keep this feasible, it is really something that we need to address and be prepared for.”
Councilwoman Betsy Wilt asked who would be swapping out the meters at this point, to which Croyle responded that it would be the responsibility of the Street Department.
“Swapping it out is just taking it off (the post) and putting another one on. That’s not a major issue,” he said.
Croyle recommended that Council discuss it privately with other personnel matters and make a recommendation for a solution at next month’s meeting.
In other news, Council approved applying for 2018 funding that could potentially repair three streets in town: Colwell Street from Orr Avenue to North Grant Avenue, Rayburn Street from Grant Avenue to Orr Avenue, and Lemon Way from Orr Avenue to North Grant Avenue. The funding would come from the 2018 allocation of money from the Community Development Block Grant program.