The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 24, 2012

Johnstown sees the (need for) light

Police cars needed, LEDs planned for parking garages

Dave Sutor

JOHNSTOWN — The City of Johnstown wants to acquire a $1 million line of credit for capital purchases involving the police force and downtown parking garages.

City Council gave finance director Carlos Gunby the go-ahead to seek the funds during its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday.

Approximately $375,000 will go toward retrofitting the Lincoln Center, Main Street East and Intermodal Transportation Center garages with light-emitting diodes, which will replace the current ballast lights. ImbuTec and Lone Pine Construction will perform the work. The city hopes to get the six- to eight-week project started before the end of the year.

Installing the LEDs will save approximately $90,000 annually, meaning the upgrade will pay for itself in about four years, officials say.

“It’s something that, through very serious analysis, has a payback that’s worth going after,” said Gunby. “Problem is, we don’t have $375,000 in disposable income just sitting around to do something with, so that’s where we come into the short-term financial vehicle, like the line of credit, which is great for this type of thing.”

Since the garage lights run every minute of the day, “the savings will be immediate,” according to Gunby. Johnstown could also become eligible for energy rebates because of adding the cost-efficient LEDs.

Money from the line of credit will also be used to get new vehicles for the police department.

“The ones that are out there right now need to go to the junkyard, and I don’t blame any of these guys if they refuse to drive any of these vehicles,” said city Councilman William Gentile Jr.

“I looked at a few of them outside; they’ve had it. We’ve got to bite the bullet. We’ve got to get these police officers some vehicles because they’re running 24/7.”

Gunby said the city wants to begin a rotation schedule in which it purchases possibly one or two new vehicles per year.

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