The proposal calls for fines to start at $50.By Pam Surano

INDIANA, Pa. (KDKA) — Local leaders could not come to a decision on a controversial ordinance that would have levied fines against those not wearing masks.

Indiana Borough leaders met virtually Tuesday to decide whether people in Indiana should be fined up to $300 for not wearing masks. After three hours of debate and community input, leaders decided more discussion and feedback was needed.

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Before the meeting, a group against the fines rallied in town. They said the proposed fines are divisive and will drive people out of town.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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“You know one, that is a violation of our constitutional rights. And two, it’s just not realistic. There’s no way to police this,” said resident Deborah Shreckengost.

Indiana Borough was expected to vote Tuesday on the controversial proposed ordinance, which leaders say enforces the already existing state requirement to wear a mask when you leave your home.

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“I’m trying to figure out if I have to wear a mask when I’m mowing my own lawn,” one Indiana resident asked during the virtual meeting.

Seven percent of the borough’s 13,000 residents are over 65 years old. The borough’s population, however, balloons by an additional 10,000 when students are in school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

“We have a great big influx of new IUP freshmen into our borough who, at age 18 or 19, have little to no regard for their own personal safety,” another borough resident said.

The ordinance proposed a first offense fine of $50 and a $75 fine for a second. A third offense could leave repeat offenders with a $300 fine.

“Why is borough police not enforcing this ordinance. If it’s so important and so vital for the safety of residents, why are we going to hire part-time people to do this and what kind of training would they receive?” said another resident.

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Some expressed fears that people won’t shop downtown if masks aren’t worn. Others said the opposite. Some feel positive reinforcement for wearing masks may be a better approach.