A motion to postpone the filling of an open position in the street department until the proposed sale of the Tamaqua Community Center is completed failed at last night's regular council meeting. The motion was made by councilman Tom Cara, who said that if the sale of the building does not go through, the borough will be short $178,000 in their budget this year. He said that by not filling the street department position, the borough could make up approximately $50,000 of that shortfall.
The proposal drew criticism from several other council members as well as at least one member of the audience. Councilman Brian Connely said that the funding for the vacant street department position is actually coming from the sewer authority fund. Additionally, there are currently two vacancies in the street department and council agreed not to fill one of them in order to help balance the 2012 budget. Connely said that even if the vacancy is not filled, there will still be a hole in the general fund balance.
Councilman Dan Evans questioned how much work needs to be done in the borough and whether the borough needs more manpower. "It seems like we're getting farther and farther behind on what we want to get accomplished. When we can't get what we have planned done, let alone take care of things that aren't planned, it is our fault that we don't have the appropriate manpower to do the things we are talking about," he said.
Resident Antonio Rodrigue took council to task for considering changes to a budget they passed less than two months ago. "I thought you had a consensus as to what was going to be done," he said. "If that was your plan for the year, stick to it or else don't bother making a plan." The motion to postpone the advertisement for the position failed.
Council made motions to advertise for the street department and for the position that will be created when code enforcement officer James Barron retires at the end of March. Additionally, the borough will advertise for part-time pool manager, lifeguards, and clerks for the upcoming summer season. Charles Wilson was hired as a full-time water treatment plant operator, effective February 27th.
Council approved a resolution accepting $60,000 from the John E. Morgan Foundation for pool operating expenses. Recreation and Youth chairman David Mace also announced that the Bungalow Pool has received a sizeable donation from the estate of Mary Jean Rimbach. Council president Micah Gursky said," That tells you that that place had a really special impact on a person." Mace said that the donation will be dedicated to a special project, however, that has not been determined yet.
Council approved the low bid received for the lower Owl Creek Dam rehabilitation project. Performance Construction Services submitted the bid, in the amount of $2,113,607.72. This is the same company that is currently doing to work on the upper dam. Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt said that the bid came in well below the estimate.
Council approved a bid received for cold patch in the amount of $118 per ton, delivered. The bid was received from Pottsville Materials of St. Clair. Council accepted a low bid from KME to install a trailer hitch on the 1997 Mack tandem axle truck in the amount of $1951. They approved the purchase of a milling attachment for the skid loader in the amount of $2400.
Council received two letters, one from McAdoo police chief Jeffrey Wainright and one from Tamaqua Chief Dave Mattson, commending part time police officer Robert Minnick for his work in apprehending the suspected armed robbers on February 5th. The audience and council applauded after the letters were read.
Steigerwalt advised council that the Wabash Creek sewer project still has twenty seven properties that need to be connected to the sewer. "The cold weather has slowed the process down," he said, but he expects work to continue through the spring. Steigerwalt noted that there are still several vacancies on several different committees and boards, including the planning commission, which is also in need of a secretary. Anyone interested can submit a letter to the borough.
Council approved the purchase of five adapters that will allow the new traffic lights to be connected to a generator in the event of a power outage. The units cost $585 each.
Council heard a request from Jeffrey Binochi, who owns property at 56 Mauch Chunk Street. During the recent traffic project, PennDot installed signs that prevent patrons from exiting the parking lot at the property, which currently houses Hess Windows. "You can get into the parking lot, but legally, you can't leave," said Binochi. Connely said that council had received communications from PennDOT indicating that the signals could be installed so that the exit of the parking lot would be part of the intersection. Connely said that the letter also said that the property could revert to the way it was prior to the construction. Binochi said that he was agreeable to that solution, however, PennDOT had indicated to him that this was not acceptable. Council agreed to pursue the situation.
Council received communication from Russell Arnold, the owner of a property on East Broad Street, who asked council to consider condemning the property next to him, which would allow the property owner to tear them down. According to Arnold, the property is a "serious safety hazard."
Council approved a request from Diakon Services to distribute senior citizen farm vouchers at the Tamaqua Community Center on June 19th from 10am to 1pm.
Council approved a motion to purchase police camera equipment from ELSAG North America in the amount of $22,130.99 and from Dark Mountan Technology in the amount of $905 for a laptop. The purchases are covered under the grant that was received from the federal government through Representative Tim Holden. Several council members asked that they be provided with an up to date report on what parts of the project have been completed and a timeline for the additional items.