Shannon Cypher Hart, the City of Latrobe’s new code and zoning enforcement officer, said she is “in the business of helping people.”
City council during a special meeting on Monday voted to hire Hart of Derry Borough to fill the non-union position. She will make $46,000 annually.
Hart replaces Ann Powell, the city’s former code and zoning enforcement officer, who is now overseeing a new department to collect stormwater management fees from property owners.
In her new role, Hart plans on “keeping with the status quo.”
“I think Ann has done a fantastic job,” Hart said. “I just want to build on what she’s already done for the community.”
Hart previously was a legislative assistant for former state Rep. Joseph Petrarca, whose office was located inside the Latrobe Municipal Building. She said she helped with various state grant programs in that role.
City manager Michael Gray said having Powell close by will enable Hart to learn about the position.
“One of the things with Shannon is she’s so familiar with the communities and the problems that exist,” Gray said.
“It’s a good advantage for the city, and I’m glad to have her.”
Hart started her new role two weeks ago and is currently working on the necessary training and certifications.
“This is a whole new world for me,” she said.
Latrobe is considering a cooperation agreement with Derry Borough for a joint code and zoning enforcement officer. Gray said Derry Borough officials indicated they are ready to move forward with the agreement, in which Hart would work 30 hours per week in Latrobe and 10 in Derry Borough.
While Hart’s primary role is in Latrobe, Gray said, “We are going to be very flexible between both.”
Also on Monday, council discussed hardship criteria designed to help Latrobe property owners pay for the annual one-time $90 stormwater management fee per equivalent residential unit (ERU).
For residents who have lost employment, receive a fixed income, or for industrial/commercial property owners whose annual fee is more than $1,000 — Gray said installment payments will be made available until the end of the year without penalty.
“Those were the three main issues we were contacted with,” Gray said. “The way I look at it is if they are having hardship, anything we can do to help them out is going to be tremendous.”
At a future voting meeting, council will consider amending an ordinance which would allow the city manager to modify due dates and payment methods for the stormwater management fee.
City officials noted that property owners must be in good standing with the city to qualify for the hardship criteria, meaning “no liens, all accounts must be paid up to date,” Gray said.
The city is working to include information on its website regarding a credit system that will allow property owners to make certain changes to their properties to reduce the amount of runoff or pollution they contribute to Latrobe’s storm sewer system — thus lowering their annual fee. Gray said the city plans to conduct an outdoor seminar for residents to learn more about the credit system when the weather warms up.
In 2003, the City of Latrobe was mandated to become a Municipal Storm Sewer System (MS4) community by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The MS4 program currently requires a pollutant reduction plan — which sets forth the requirements that Latrobe must follow to reduce sediment and pollutant loads from entering rivers and streams through the city’s storm sewer systems.
The overall cost to the city over five years is approximately $2.1 million. The fees paid by Latrobe residents and businesses will cover costs involved in making the changes needed for the city to be in compliance with the NPDES permit for the pollutant reduction plan.