Local government is where the decisions that affect citizens most directly are made – and it is important to share the good work of municipalities and local elected officials. These people – often volunteers – give countless hours to their communities and toward making their places of residence better for all citizens.
Indiana Township has a population of under 8,000 that offers a great suburban feel, while access to major thoroughfares like Route 28 and the PA Turnpike are just minutes away. Situated in the Fox Chapel Area School District, the community offers excellent educational opportunities, wonderful amenities and boundless recreational opportunities. Specifically, the township boasts 3 large parks and 2 parklets, with a host of events throughout the year for community members of all ages including an upcoming Summer Camp for kids. From a facilities standpoint, the township has a new Public Works facility, along with a beautiful Town Hall Community Center and the Kevin M. Brozek / Rural Ridge Community Center, both of which offer multi-functional spaces for residents to utilize.
The local government in the Township has many success stories, but one of the things they are most proud of is their recent public/private partnership which has resulted in improvements to Emmerling Community Park. Through a collaboration with the Fox Chapel Baseball Association, the Township engaged public charities, private companies and Allegheny County to assist with installation of night lighting, an electronic score board and ADA Certified walkways and bleachers at the park, expanding its usefulness to all of the local youth baseball groups in the area. In total, the cost of these improvements to Emmerling Community Park were over $500,000 – all of which were covered through public/private partnership as a result of the commitment of local leaders to the youth of the area.
The Board of Supervisors and township administration in Indiana are thoughtful participants in ALOM events such as the Spring Educational Conference. Albert Kaan who sits on the Indiana Board of Supervisors and is currently serving as Second Vice President of the Allegheny County Association of Township Officials (ACATO), expressed his feelings about participating as a member of ALOM in the following way: “When looking for professional development opportunities as an elected official, ALOM and ACATO networking and educational events allow our board to share successes and discuss ideas in a broad setting with so many experts and peers. In turn, this allows our entire board to have a better understanding of important topics and to bring that knowledge back to the township.”
Indiana Township has been recognized as Banner Community by ALOM every year since the program inception in 2012.
Richland Township sits in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and is home to approximately 11,000 residents. The local government functions with a few simple values – operate as efficiently and economically as possible which means don’t waste money or time. These two ideas serve as pillars which guide the local decision-making process. The board also is very conscientious about spending tax dollars and works hard to put themselves in the residents’ shoes while being responsive to their needs. This is evident by the fact that there has only been 1 real estate tax increase in the last 38 years, which happened in 1996.
Transparency and fairness are also very important to the Board of Supervisors and Township Administration. The consistent application of rules and procedures promotes professionalism, inclusion and creates a positive image of the local government. Richland recognizes that residents feel connected to the community through the parks, schools, local businesses and places of worship. The elected officials strive to make their residents proud of their township. In fact, one of the townships goals is to have their residents want to spend the rest of their lives in Richland Township.
George “Skip” Allen has been a Supervisor in Richland for 18 years and a member of ALOM for over a decade. His tenure has included Chairmanships of both ALOM and the Allegheny County Association of Township Officials (ACATO). When asked how the associations have enhanced his experience as an elected official, Skip responded: “ALOM has allowed me to learn and connect in ways that I would never have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. The interaction with state and county government is very valuable, as is the pool of resources that I am able to take back to my community. The associations have taught me that we are all in this together.”
Richland Township has been recognized as Banner Community by the Allegheny League of Municipalities.
Associate Member Vendor – Bookminders
Bookminders opened its doors in Pittsburgh in 1991 and is the industry leader in outsourced accounting. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Bookminders also has local offices in the Philadelphia and Baltimore markets. The company has been honored seven times as one of the “100 Fastest Growing Private Companies” by the Pittsburgh Business Times. They deliver accounting services ranging from weekly cash and general ledger management to financial statements and board reporting.
Nearly half of all Bookminders clients come from the nonprofit and municipal sectors. Bookminders’ specialized tools and reports assist stakeholders in grant management, program tracking and accurate financial reporting. All clients are provided a Year-End Package that streamlines the work for the auditors and tax accountants.
Relying on Bookminders’ accurate financial reporting for the publicly stewarded tax dollars is welcomed by numerous municipalities with limited staff and resources. Bookminders delivers accurate and timely financial information required for municipalities’ complex reporting requirements. As a result, local governments can improve financial controls, segregate duties, and decrease accounting costs.
Bookminders became an Associate Member of ALOM in 2017. They have been an active participant in the association including leading instructive sessions through the ALOM Spring Educational Conference.
Jessica Minkus, COO of Bookminders, comments on the company’s partnership with ALOM: “Our membership with ALOM is a natural partnership. ALOM’s mission is to provide essential resources to those in local government and Bookminders delivers specialized accounting services to those same organizations. Improved local government tools and resources help everyone and we are honored to support our communities.”
Leetsdale is a small 1.1 square mile community in Allegheny County situated along the Ohio River approximately 15 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. The borough was incorporated in 1904 and in the 2010 census was shown to have a population of 1,218.
During the last 3 decades, Leetsdale has experienced great rebuilding and growth. Leetsdale Industrial Park grew from the property once vacated by Bethlehem Steel. Now featuring various warehousing and manufacturing tenants, the park is still growing. Nearby Buncher Commerce Park has also grown and welcomed in new tenants, helping to make Leetsdale a bustling and vibrant community today.
The local government in Leetsdale works together with local residents to steward their community and help it thrive. The Parks & Recreation Board was set up by the borough to allow residents to have input into and provide programs for children. Positions to the board are appointed by council. The summer children’s park program and bonfires are two examples of ideas started by the Park & Rec board. Similarly, the Leetsdale Garden Club is a group of volunteers who are partially funded by the Borough. The Garden Club does plantings and maintains flower beds throughout the community making the streets a greener place.
Additionally, the Leetsdale 4th of July Committee works year round to collect donations, fundraise and organize the Leetsdale 4th of July Celebration & Carnival. Most of the fundraising is put toward the fireworks display held on the evening of the 4th with some fundraisers being held almost a year in advance. With growth of the industrial and commercial sections becoming a success, Leetsdale now looks forward to drawing in new residents and families to the small neighborhood.
Peter Poninsky is Mayor of Leetsdale and currently
serves both as President of the Allegheny County Boroughs Association (ACBA) as well as Chairman of the Allegheny League of Municipalities (ALOM). He had this to say about ALOM and our associations: “As a decades-long member of these associations, I can truly attest to their merit. The networking and educational opportunities are invaluable and are truly meeting an un-met need among local elected officials.”
Munhall is a 2.4 square mile sized borough with a population of approximately 11,000 people. The community has a rich history in steel dating back to the 1800s, and was originally only inhabited by working families of Carnegie Steel Company. Today, Munhall is a vibrant residential community surrounded by plentiful shopping, parks, entertainment and culture.
The local government of Munhall is proud that they have not raised taxes in 3 years as well as that they are one of the few regional municipalities that does not outsource their garbage collections service, allowing them to keep costs low and not impose trash collection limits on residents. The borough also employs a police force of 23 full-time officers. A number of seasonal parades occur for the community, as well as a yearly community yard sale that has become very popular.
Additionally, the local government in Munhall puts great value on community and helping others. For example, West Field is a historical site where the Homestead Grays played during the first half of the 20th century. In 2016, Munhall Borough was able to secure a grant from the Campbell Foundation to renovate and revive the site, all at no cost to taxpayers or the borough. Other infrastructure improvements are high-priority for the local elected officials in Munhall, and the healthy fund balance they’ve achieved allows their Public Works department to keep a robust schedule of road maintenance.
Rob Falce is President of Munhall Borough Council, and long-time member of the Allegheny County Boroughs Association (ACBA) Board of Directors. When asked how associations like ALOM and ACBA contribute to his experience as a local government leader, he responded: “The educational opportunities are an asset to myself personally and my colleagues on Borough Council. It is valuable to take what we learn at the various educational sessions and bring it back to our borough to apply in our community. We also value the Banner Community Program and its recent enhancements that recognize communities like ours who emphasize good government above all.”
Associate Member Vendor – Keystone Collections Group
Keystone Collections Group is a local tax collector serving 94 Allegheny County municipalities and 25 school districts. They bill, collect and distribute all types of local revenues across Allegheny County, as well as to over 800 taxing authorities in 36 other counties throughout Pennsylvania.
Keystone collects a multitude of current and delinquent local tax or claim types including: real estate, earned income, local services, per capita/occupation, business privilege/mercantile, garbage fees, stormwater management fees, utilities. Additionally, Keystone serves as the Act 32 Tax Officer for two of the four tax collection districts located within Allegheny County, and 15 other tax collection districts throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The company was founded in the Borough of White Oak in 1986 to help local municipalities and school districts recover delinquent tax revenue. They currently employ over 200 individuals and maintain two offices in Allegheny County, in White Oak and the Municipality of Penn Hills.
Keystone continues to be an active ALOM member and participates in many events, including the Spring Educational Conference. “Our partnership with ALOM throughout the years gives Keystone access to Allegheny County communities which has allowed for clear communication and open dialogue regarding the communities’ collection needs,”said company founder and President Thomas J. Kratzenberg.
Keystone’s in-house IT team develops proprietary tax software applications to ensure fast, accurate and transparent distribution of tax revenues to cities, boroughs and townships. “Every innovation is meant to serve the immediate and future needs of communities,” said Joseph W. Lazzaro, Keystone’s Vice President and General Counsel.
A prime example of Keystone’s innovation and growth occurs in the collection of stormwater management fees. Keystone is poised to support every municipality searching for assistance in solving stormwater problems and meeting Federal regulations. “Keystone’s billing and collection system is in place to fund stormwater management authorities,” Lazzaro said. “We assist the municipality with the collection of this rapidly growing revenue source, as well as any other municipal tax type.”
Aleppo Township is a suburb of Northwest Allegheny County with nearly 2,000 residents and often goes unnoticed. However, this small township has a huge vision and has been making significant strides to engage its residents and keep them informed in Township operations.
The local elected and appointed officials in Aleppo are most proud of transforming the process that involves residents in local government. Leaders in Aleppo recognize that most citizens want to be involved but they need tools to do so, because they have limited time and information. By taking advantage of technology tools like YouTube, the Township has been streaming their Board of Commissioners meetings since 2015.
By breaking down the meetings into small digests based on specific topics, residents can watch only the portions of the meetings that are of interest to them. This allows residents to participate without demanding their attention for an entire meeting. Not only is it a helpful tool to keep citizens informed, but it also allows the Board of Commissioners to receive more feedback from residents and to understand varied viewpoints that may have been missed otherwise.
This effort has also allowed for an exploration of how the township meetings are organized to increase efficacy. Topic-centered meetings are held as “workshops” where language is crafted for motions. Communications then take place between the local government and the local residents, sharing the video digests and asking for feedback and input. Then, at the “legislative” meetings, motions are voted on. This system creates an atmosphere of well-informed residents and local elected officials who are truly responding to their constituents.
The Aleppo Board of Commissioners Present is Matthew Doebler, who is also a member of the ALOM sister association AC&WPATC. When asked about what he finds most valuable about his participation in the associations, he responded: “connecting with great vendors is crucial, as is the opportunity to learn about what other communities are doing. Membership in AC&WPATC as well as ALOM allows me to share thoughts, gain connections and facilitate professional development.”
Butler Township, Butler County is a large township with over 17,000 residents and contains a rich history dating back to the 1800s. Modern day Butler Township is the only first-class township in Butler County, and is a hub of activity with a strong local government presence. Local elected officials and municipal staff work together on several programs to build a sense of community for both current and future generations of Butler Township residents.
An example of such efforts is the newly implemented Student Representative Program. The program was started through partnership between the Butler Township Board of Commissioners and the Butler Area School District and allows a designated member of the high school to sit in on the board meetings as a non-voting member. These youth participate in discussions, represent student interests to the board, and take information back to their peers at school. The goal is to cultivate the next generation of local leaders by getting students involved in local government.
Another notable example of Butler Township sense of community is shown through volunteerism at Preston Park. Called the “Jewel of Butler Township” this 88-acre estate willed to the township requires extensive maintenance. Every single week up to 20 volunteers attend park cleanup and maintenance efforts coordinated by the township.
Furthermore, even in times of tragedy the local government officials and community of Butler Township work toward common goals. Recent flooding in 2017 left many residents and properties in need of clean up and assistance. Township officials worked with local construction companies and shared equipment to clean properties, haul debris and clear waterways.
Dave Zarnick who is President of the Butler Township Board of Commissioners, is President of the AC&WPATC and is an ALOM Board Member had this to say about his experiences with ALOM and its affiliate associations: “I find that the association staff are knowledgeable and networking with colleagues from around the region is very helpful and a critical resource when questions or needs arise. The Spring and Fall conferences also provide essential professional development on relevant topics that I can often bring back to my community.”
Associate Member Vendor – C.S. McKee
C.S. McKee, L.P. is an institutional investment management firm that operates from a single office location in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 100% owned by employees, managing institutional assets is their only business, and they have approximately $10 billion* under management in equity, fixed income, and balanced portfolios.
C.S. McKee works with 51 public entities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, many of which are ALOM members. The firm believes in transparency and strives to provide honest, helpful information to municipal representatives – not just a sales pitch.
C.S McKee consistently supports ALOM members in several ways from education to event sponsorship. In particular, they provide perennial support to the ALOM Spring Educational Conference, sponsorship of the ALOM Annual Golf Outing and participation in a host of other association events throughout the year. Additionally, CS McKee professionals have provided pro bono educational to our membership in the areas of Defensive Trends for Pension Management, Passive vs. Active Management of Pension Assets and Understanding the Impact of Interest Rates on Pension Plans.
Leaders of C. S. McKee had positive feedback about their own Associate Membership in ALOM and are quoted as stating that “participating in ALOM has been a rewarding opportunity for C.S. McKee. The organization has such a strong commitment to education and networking, with experts from all facets of local government represented and working together. The dedication of ALOM’s members to improving their communities through shared knowledge, focus on current and future issues, and implementation of best practices demonstrates why municipal officials should participate.”
North Fayette is a contrast in environments. Someone traveling through the wide-spread township could move from a rural area into a suburban residential or commercial area in a matter of minutes. One of the many things that makes North Fayette stand out is the commitment among township leadership to citizen engagement, efficacy of services and building strategic partnerships.
Examples of this commitment are plentiful. Specifically, in recent months the township has been actively seeking resident input regarding storm water management and how to fund upcoming critical projects to reduce storm water. The township has also been surveying residents about the desire to find new space for a public pool in the community.
Similarly, the township is actively pursuing delinquent real estate tax and performed an internal audit of Earned income tax revenue and uncovered hundreds of potential additions to their tax rolls. By uncovering these sources of income tax and inquiring about their payment status, the township has been able to pass a 2018 budget with no tax increases to residents. The township has also continually worked to gain efficiencies in providing quality services to its residents and businesses while keeping costs to a minimum.
Looking to the new year in 2018, North Fayette has formed a unique partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce. The two entities will share one facility, and through this relationship they not only open up opportunities for increased grant funding, but also create a synergy around the idea of a central point of interaction for the entire community to share.
When asked about the value ALOM has brought to the experience of North Fayette Supervisor and Allegheny County Association of Township Officials (ACATO) Vice President Bob Doddato, he responded: “through ALOM and ACATO, I’ve found significant value in the opportunity to network with other municipalities, share ideas.”
South Park Township is a municipality of approximately 14,000 people and is considered by many to be a pivotal community of the south hills area. In addition to the beloved attraction of “South Park”, the community has an overabundance of things to be proud of that are both long-standing features and items that are on the horizon.
Examples of well-established offerings include the many community enrichment programs accessible to children (and some for adults too) such as the recent Brunch with Santa, the township Halloween Party, Summer Reading Program, the Annual Community Day and more. On the horizon for South Park Township includes working to develop the former Consol Energy site into a new, multi-purpose Transit Oriented Overlay Development (TOOD) property that will feature retail and residential expansions. Similarly, the site is bordered by 40 acres referred to as the “bingo lots” that will also be the subject of redevelopment plans in the coming months.
The leadership of the township is also very proud of the cooperative interaction between municipal staff and elected officials. The two separate but equally important roles of individuals within the township leadership complement one another is a way that creates a positive work environment as well as an efficient and productive local government operation.
Dave Buchewicz is Chairman of the South Park Board of Supervisors and Past President of ACATO. His thoughts on the value of membership in ALOM and ACATO are as follows: “ALOM and ACATO provide the ‘WOW FORUMS’ to meet with Allegheny County officials and state legislators that create the laws and rules that affect our communities. Through the forums we get to know the lawmakers on a first name basis and they in turn get to know the local officials on a first name basis, which is so important to being a local elected official and serving our communities with fidelity.”
Associate Member Vendor – Senate Engineering
Senate Engineering Company has been serving ALOM Member Municipalities since 1970. The firm’s employees are dedicated to planning, designing and implementing public infrastructure projects that are cost effective and affordable. Financial constraints continue to reduce the ability for municipalities to fund these projects. At Senate, the firm makes certain that all eligible grant and low interest loan programs are identified and applied for in order to reduce that burden.
Well informed elected officials and public employees are instrumental in the successful project planning and implementation process. Senate actively encourages clients’ participation in the budgetary, public awareness and alternative design and construction process. They strive to keep their clients appraised on all current and proposed regulations, especially unfunded mandates, such as the most recent Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) regulations.
Gordon Taylor, President of Senate Engineering, had the following feedback about his firm’s relationship with ALOM: “Senate recognizes the value that ALOM brings to each of its Member Municipalities through its educational programs, the various resources it can provide and its advocacy of sound policies and legislation for a stronger local government presence. Our clients who are taking advantage of these membership offerings are building stronger communities every day.
Our support for ALOM has been there since its inception by attending, sponsoring and participating in the annual Spring Educational Conference to more recently, sponsoring the Inaugural Sporting Clay Shoot and Networking Event. A good time was had by all and we hope that more ALOM members will attend next year.”
The community of Aspinwall is often referred to as “Mayberry” by the residents of this borough that sits along the Allegheny River and has a population of around 3,000 people. The municipality boasts a dedicated group of elected officials and community members and has had several notable accomplishments over the past few years. These include the unveiling of Aspinwall Riverfront Park, the Junior Council Program, and a successful Neighborhood Watch program.
Similarly, the formation of a Shade Tree Commission started 9 years ago by Council President Joe Noro has grown into a huge community-building program for Aspinwall that is beneficial to businesses and residents. With the help of grants from TreeVitalize, Aspinwall has planted 125 new trees throughout their borough. It takes over 30 volunteers to plant each group of trees, and businesses come together to offer food and refreshments to the volunteers after a long and hard morning of tree-planting. The volunteers of the Shade Tree Commission also help to maximize borough dollars by bidding out tree trimming and other services related to tree maintenance.
Regarding their membership in Allegheny League of Municipalities (ALOM) and the Allegheny County Boroughs Association (ACBA), ACBA Board Member and Aspinwall Council Member Ann Pawlikowski had this to say: “I’m impressed with the group’s dedication to their communities and their length of service. Being part of ALOM and the ACBA allows me to remain knowledgeable and engaged with local colleagues as well as with Harrisburg.”
Castle Shannon is a well-known borough in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with a population of around 8,500 people. Like so many local communities, the level of public service and volunteerism among the local elected officials and other residents in Castle Shannon is extraordinary. Just a few of the many examples of this include food giving programs, a community garden, stream clean-up programs and more.
The borough designates part of the communities’ millage to serve the local library, which is very active. They hold an annual Community Day and Fall Fest and have initiated a group called “Futures Forum” to engage local youth in borough activities.
One of their most recent and most successful endeavors is called “Third Fridays” sponsored by Borough in partnership with the Community Revitalization Corporation. Over this summer these events have featured live bands, local restaurants, and other local businesses. Each event is themed, and the August event will be focused around the notorious 1917 Bank Robbery which is a very famous piece of Castle Shannon history.
Nancy Kovach serves as a Council President in Castle Shannon and also sits on the board of directors of the Allegheny County Boroughs Association (ACBA). When asked what she finds most valuable about her participation in our association her response was: “I find that the educational and networking opportunities provided by ALOM and ACBA are invaluable. The association provides settings for professional development and interfacing with legislative leaders that are essential to being an elected official in Allegheny County.”
Associate Member Vendor – HRG Engineering
Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) is dedicated to helping municipal leaders improve their communities through better infrastructure like roads, bridges, parks, and water systems.
ALOM’s member municipalities are run by dedicated public servants who know the value of good infrastructure, and HRG is proud to work with so many of them.
The leaders of these municipalities have a strong desire to make their communities great, and HRG helps them do that from the initial planning phases through financing, consensus building, design and construction. HRG professionals are by their side through the whole process, acting as a partner.
The consulting firm also helps ALOM member municipalities make sense of changing regulations and find creative ways to meet them under the tight financial constraints so many communities face.
Dan Santoro of HRG had this to say about their partnership with ALOM: “ALOM has historically provided invaluable resources to the communities in which we work. HRG sees our partnership and support of the Banner Community program as an enhancement of ALOM’s mission to provide resources to the communities in which we work and live, while giving them the recognition they deserve for their hard work and dedication to local government.
We are honored to have such a great relationship with ALOM and look forward to continuing to watch Allegheny County, and neighbors, grow and succeed.”