By Libby Rosequist
The July 6 Borough Council meeting opened with a public hearing to discuss Ordinance No. 913, amending Ordinance No. 796, Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and Ordinance No. 914, Codification of Ordinances.
The purpose of the ordinance changes is to solidify the correct code enforcement.
The public had no comments and more information will be available during future meetings.
The minutes for the June 1, 15 meetings were approved unanimously.
The Expense Approval Report under bills paid was approved unanimously.
Tom Huber opened the public comments with a concern about the tax and rate increase over the last five years.
“The last tax increase was in 2015, however water and sewer continues to climb in 2016, 2017, 2019 and this year with a $5 monthly increase,” Huber said. “This is going to cost the average person about $75 a year, whether you call it a tax or rate increase, it is still coming out of the pocket of the people who may be on fixed incomes or people struggling through this pandemic.
I just hope a rate or tax increase will not be part of balancing the budget in the near future. If you can justify it that is one thing.”
Pat Gehrlein, borough manager, ensured Huber there was balance going into the new year but offered to take a further look and discuss it at length another time.
Robert Behrens ended the public comments inquiring about the new garbage truck.
“Are we still going to receive a new garbage truck and if so, when are we going to see it be put to use?” Behrens asked.
“The new garbage truck will actually be received over the next week or two,” Gehrlein said. “The recycling truck is already sold and due to COVID-19 there were some setbacks but the new truck is ready to be used and hopefully delivered soon.”
Behrens also inquired about the blacktop and why a similar system, such as the work on Buffalo Road using ground up mills as a scratch coat, isn’t used.
“Usually that process is used more for the tar and chip roads like in the township,” Wayne Yokom, Streets Department superintendent said. “It is becoming more popular for other types of roads and we will consider for future projects.”
During unfinished business, Ordinance No. 913 and No. 914 were approved unanimously.
The request for borough streets for the O’Neal Memorial run was removed from the minutes due to cancellation of race.
Under new business, resolution No. 07062020-1, Application for Blight Remediation Program Grant and Resolution No. 07062020-2, Revision to “OBO” North East Borough’s FY 2020 CDBG Program were approved unanimously.
“What these resolutions are is an opportunity to tackle the worst of the worst homes considered in blight and give us the chance to work on them,” Gehrlein said. “We have a list of the top 10 we think need the most work and will continue to find ways to identify, target and start to remediate the homes in our communities that are blighting influences. Many are uninhabited or abandoned, and we want to bring them up to code.”
Police Chief Mike Sliker received a unanimous agreement for the promotion of patrolman Towner to a full-time position and the Civil Service Rules and Regulations Amendment to finish the new business.
After executive session, Council made a motion that officers promoted to full-time will start at $16 an hour and after six months, based on the chief’s merit scale, they can go up to $18.50 an hour.
The motion was approved unanimously.
There will be a second monthly meeting on July 20 at 7 p.m.