Bellevue to contribute to CONNECT

Pending the approval of next year’s borough council, Bellevue will contribute to the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) as a sign of the borough’s commitment to the program.

CONNECT is a project of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, designed to deal with “policy level issues” facing the City of Pittsburgh and the 38 municipalities that border the city, according to associate director Kathy Risko.

Risko said that the project has been funded by foundations that now want to see some evidence of commitment from the involved communities in the form of a monetary contribution.

CONNECT chair and Edgewood Council president Patricia Schaefer told Bellevue Council members at their meeting Tuesday that CONNECT helps provide information to all of the municipalities on issues that could affect them all, such as wet weather remediation, EMS, transportation and fire services.

“We’re finally realizing we can’t do politics as usual,” Schaefer said, noting that CONNECT’s louder voice is able to reach legislators in Harrisburg.

She said that CONNECT also makes sure that information about Pittsburgh issues -- such as the G-20 conference or ice blocking the rivers -- is passed on to the smaller municipalities that might also be affected by them.

Bellevue director of administrative services Doug Sample said that Bellevue has saved money by its involvement with CONNECT the past couple years, including $1,200 from participating in an energy use audit, and $300 in gas purchases.

Bellevue will contribute $607 to CONNECT in 2012, with $1,213 being sought in later years.

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