The 2012 Tamaqua Blue Raider football team, that went 10-0 in league play, was honored with citations from the Tamaqua Borough Council, The Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and the Pennsylvania Senate at this week's borough council meeting. Head coach Sam Bonner, members of his coaching staff, and several members of the team were on hand to receive the citations from Councilman David Mace, the chairman of the recreation and youth committee, State Rep. Jerry Knowles, and State Sen. David Argall. All three spoke of the pride that the town has in the accomplishments of the team. "You're a class act," said Knowles, referring to the conduct of the team, both on and off the field. "Your town could not be more proud of you," said council president Micah Gursky.
In other business, council approved multiple reappointments to various authorities, boards, and commissions. Dr. Joanne Calabrese and Judith Hadesty, R.N. were reappointed to the Board of Health for a 5 year and 1 year term, respectively. Kathy Kunkel was reappointed to the Civil Service Commission. Council also read the annual report from the commission. Linda Yulanavage and Mark Conville were both reappointed to the Historic Architectural Review Commission. Tom Cara and Jon Steele were reappointed to the Employee Pension Committee. Chris Morrison, E. Franklin Griffiths, Thomas Rodgers, Michael Hobbs, Tom Cara, and Ken Smulligan were all reappointed to the Police Pension Fund Committee. David Mace was appointed to the Eastern Schuylkill Recreation Commission, replacing John Trudich. Trudich was reappointed to the Tamaqua Public Library Board. It was noted that there are vacancies on the HARC, the Planning Commission, and the police pension committee. Any interested parties should submit letters of interest to the borough.
Council briefly discussed the funding of the uniformed and non-uniformed pension funds. Currently, the borough's non-uniformed fund is overfunded by approximately 14 percent. However, the police pension fund is underfunded by about 47 percent. Councilman Tom Cara said that this will change with the increase from 5 percent to 8 percent that officers are currently contributing, but the borough still faces a shortfall of approximately $235,000. Gursky said that it is mandatory that the borough fund this. Cara said that the borough will need to look to the State for assistance to meet the MMO.
Council also denied the recommended COLA increases of 1.7 percent for four pensioned police officers. "You think we're mean for denying this," said Cara, "but you don't understand. We're not giving them a raise of $100 a year. We need to put these funds aside to cover 10 years. That's $18,000."
Council directed Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt to distribute the borough owned contents of the community center to local non-profit organizations who have requested items, after fulfilling any needs of the borough for the equipment.
The parking and traffic committee approved handicap parking spaces for 529 Arlington Street, 20 North Greenwood Street, and 308 East Union Street. They denied a request from La Dolce Casa of 16 West Broad Street for a loading/unloading zone based on a review by the committee and input from the police department. The committee also requested that residents in the Dutch Hill neighborhood near Elizabeth, Columbia and Clark streets pay attention to the rules about parking within 15 feet of fire hydrants and stop signs. "We need to keep that area of Dutch Hill open for fire protection and snow removal," said committee chair Dan Evans.
Mayor Christian Morrison advised residents that the quality of life ordinance will be enforced this winter, including the clearing of sidewalks. With the change in the borough's code enforcement, the code enforcement officer will not be pulled to operate snow plows and will be available to enforce the ordinance requiring sidewalks to be cleared.
Council reviewed several bills, including payment to Barry Isett, the company responsible for the borough's code enforcement. Cara reminded council that at the beginning of the contract, services were not to exceed $65,000 per year. The borough is currently on track to spend more than that. Steigerwalt said that fees that were paid by applicants for permits and such need to be subtracted out and a net figure determined. Gursky added that during the transition from the borough's previous code enforcement to the new company, there was a lot of "front loading" that needed to be addressed, which may have added to the initial higher than anticipated costs.
At the end of the meeting, Gursky provided an overview of the many projects that were completed in the borough over the last year, including what may be the largest capital project ever completed in the borough: the improvements to the Owl Creek Dams. Additionally, the near completion of the wild cat sewer hookups, the Center Street bridge project, and the PennDOT traffic light project were all highlights of 2012. Council will continue to meet on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7p.m. in 2013.