Monroeville council Tuesday night voted to accept nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in federal funding to build an FBI training facility in the municipality.
Manager Jeffrey Silka told council members they had to vote to approve the funding that night or they'd miss out on the opportunity for $740,000 in funds the Federal Bureau of Investigation had to use or lose.
He told council the center would be built at the Monroeville Public Safety Training Center on Johnston at no cost to the municipality. It would be available for use by Monroeville police and firefighters when not being used by the agency.
The center would be staffed and maintained by municipal employees. It is expected to cost Monroeville about $12,000 a year to maintain.
Some council members expressed concern about public works employees being spread too thin.
Councilman Bernhard Erb said he was conflicted about accepting the funding.
"It's a ridiculous thing for the federal government to do, but it's beneficial to us," he said.
But Councilwoman Diane Allison said the "state of the art" facility would be a boon for first responders in the municipality.
Council members voted unanimously to accept the funds.
In other matters, Councilwoman Lois Drumheller proposed a motion for council to support current litigation challenging Act 13, a state law that would prevent municipalities from developing more restrictive zoning laws for shale gas drilling than the state has enacted.
A panel of Commonwealth Court judges struck down the portion of the law involving statewide zoning in July, and state officials appealed the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Ms. Drumheller said the law, if upheld, would "destroy the way that local governments use our quasi-judiciary body to safeguard our community character by affecting how our zoning ordinance law is supposed to function responsibly."
She motioned for council to support a "friend of the court" brief filed by the National Resources Defense Council. Every council member voted to accept the motion except for Mr. Erb, who voted no.
Council also voted on an ordinance to change the starting time of all council meetings from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Annie Siebert: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.