I am honored to represent the residents of Mt. Lebanon's 4th Ward, and Mt Lebanon on the whole. I take this elected position very seriously, which is why I have attended all of the commission meetings during my first term and have been present for every vote held — in total more than 100 commission meetings and discussion sessions to date.
The following information is offered to give you an understanding of how Mt Lebanon conducts its official business and then some of the ordinances and policies I have been involved with creating, supporting, or opposing during my tenure as Commissioner.
The Mt Lebanon Commission meets twice per month, usually on the first and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Occasionally, the commission does not meet on the the fourth week of December. More info on the official schedule can be found here.
Each commission meeting is preceded by a public discussion session in which the Commission brings in staff and external exports to discuss important items on which the Commission seeks input or is likely to vote on in the future. Public discussion sessions are where the Commission is able to gain valuable information from experts on the subject at hand. Later, at commission meetings, the public is able to make comment via public comments time where those comments are entered into the official record of the meeting.
The Commission typically meets in executive session prior to, and sometimes after, each official commission meeting. This is for the Commission to receive legal advice from the Municipal Solicitor or to discuss pressing staff matters. Occasionally, special executive sessions are called to make decisions that require more immediate attention, but still with the narrow focus described above. Executive session is not a time for deliberation on public matters, that is reserved for discussion session and the public commission meetings.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, official meetings were online and residents were allowed to make public comments in that fashion in accordance with local and state municipal laws. During that time, I was always present, in-person at the Municipal Building, even while the meetings were being conducted online.
There have been 8 commissioners over the past four years and none have introduced more items over that time period than I have. I have introduced nearly 100 items, which includes introducing and holding public hearings on 12 new ordinances including those aimed at improving stormwater and sanitary sewer management, alleviating flooding, removing ice spots from public roads, clarifying the parking ordinance, and increasing environmental stewardship.
As President of the Commission in 2020, I signed the municipality's declaration of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also serve as the Commission liaison to the specially created Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the Police Engagement Working Group.
In an effort to modernize municipal communications and to understand how residents and business owners want to communicate with the municipality, I introduced a proposal to commence the largest communications survey our municipality has ever endeavored. I helped to develop (along with former Commissioner Fraasch, Mt. Lebanon's assistant manager and public information officer) the municipality's first communication survey sent to every residential unit in the municipality. It was also shared with business within city limits. We received thousands of responses that are currently informing our work to redevelop and redesign the municipal website to be more user-friendly, more searchable, and better meet the needs of our residents.
When 2018's extreme weather and rain caused massive flooding across the municipality, I formed a nonpartisan group that consisted of engineers and local residents which together planned an environmentally-friendly bio-swale on the downslope of the municipal golf course that would capture several acres of rainfall and mitigate flooding from extreme rain events. The swale was completed and has been working to prevent flooding at dozens of homes in the Thornywood Creek area of Sunset Hills. This project showed that residents, when working in concert with the municipality and its vendors, can conceive and accomplish amazing feats, and work together to keep costs down and make the most efficient use of taxpayer funds.
Overall, in the past four years, I've presided over the municipality receiving several million dollars in grant funding from various state and federal agencies for parks and recreation, municipal maintenance and development, and approved multiple bond refinances allowing for visionary capital improvements and saving the municipality millions of dollars in capital debt over the next decade. I've also presided over approvals and hearings for several new residential and commercial developments throughout the municipality, some of which are already generating tens of thousands of additional tax dollars each year, with more expected to come online in the next few years.
I have vocally (and with my votes) opposed items that have gone over budget, including items I previously supported, like:
I'm proud of my record of introducing new policies that increase our business vibrancy, provide additional revenue to offset the need for tax increases, keep our community safe, increase our environmental stewardship, and provide new recreational opportunities for the enjoyment of all residents.
Mt. Lebanon's official meeting agendas and minutes are available for public inspection on the municipal website here.