By Gary P. Hinkson
City Manager, Hermitage, Pa.
HERMITAGE, Pa. – After significantly restricting spending in 2020 because of the pandemic, the city of Hermitage, Pa., completed several infrastructure projects, purchased equipment items and maintained a stable financial picture in 2021.
The 2022 budget does not increase taxes or fees and keeps the real estate tax rate at 5 mills for the 31st year.
Last year’s achievements include the launching of a new marketing program and city logo, with a goal of increasing population and visitors. The new logo resulted from a collaboration with design professionals who conducted focus groups with city residents. It was launched at the city’s 2021 Arts Festival.
In 2021 business developments, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center moved into a new 27,000-square-foot office; Dean Natural Vending occupied a new building in the LindenPointe Business Campus; and Extreme Machine began an addition at its home in the industrial corridor.
Hermitage will continue its emphasis on recreation facilities, programs and events this year.
After record attendance in 2021, plans are underway to expand the annual Hermitage Arts Festival (Aug. 30-31) and the Holiday Light Parade (Nov.19).
The city will continue its partnerships with Buhl Park (reduced outdoor pool passes, shared maintenance), Hermitage Little League (fall ball, shared maintenance), the Community Library of the Shenango Valley (free library cards for residents), Shenango Valley Animal Shelter and the Hermitage School District (free summer recreation program).
These partnerships stretch budget dollars while increasing recreational opportunities for Hermitage residents.
The city boasts one of the region’s most dynamic youth athletic facilities and recently was awarded a $183,000 state grant to purchase 18 acres adjacent to the Hermitage Athletic Complex for expansion.
Looking to 2022, Hermitage will undertake the largest public infrastructure initiative in its history with multiple paving and stormwater improvement projects.
Also, the city will expand its sanitary sewer system along South Neshannock Road and Virginia Road to add 90 homes to the system and eliminate many failing on-lot systems that are polluting the environment. The project will make available acres of vacant land for residential development.
The Joy Cone Co. will begin a $30 million expansion to its cookie plant this year that is expected to add up to 90 jobs. The city was awarded a $1.73 million state grant to make improvements to Lamor Road to increase safety, add pedestrian facilities and improve access to Joy Cone Co.
A Hobby Lobby store will open in the Hermitage Square Shopping Center; a Harbor Freight store will open along North Hermitage Road in a building formerly occupied by Goldstein Furniture; and a Dairy Queen store will open along East State Street.
Officials from Hermitage and Wheatland also will spend time this year educating residents about the plan to merge Wheatland into Hermitage.
Information and speakers will be made available to residents and interested groups.
The residents of both municipalities will vote on the proposed merger in November.