The Borough of Tamaqua will be seeing quite a few improvements next year, thanks to the benevolence of the John E. Morgan Foundation.
Council announced that the borough has received a grant in the amount of $76,000 for the operation of the Howard D. Buehler Memorial Pool and the construction of a storage building at the Lower Owl Creek Dam.
The storage building is a separate project from a pavilion project that has been proposed for a DCNR grant by the Owl Creek Reservoir Commission.
Additionally, the police department will be receiving $44,687 for the installation of license plate readers, three in-car cameras, and computers. The borough will need to contribute $10,000 for the completion of the project.
"The Morgan foundation is extremely generous and we are extremely blessed to have them in our community," said Council President Micah Gursky. "They are really something special."
Council approved a collective bargaining agreement for UAW employees beginning in January 2014 and continuing through December, 2017. The contract contains a 2.5 percent wage increase in 2014 and 2015, and a 3.5 percent increase in 2016 and 2017. Council also approved a 3 percent wage increase and a transition to a Capital Blue Cross health insurance plan for non-union employees effective Jan. 1.
Municipal building office hours will also change to 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
Council approved several reappointments including Judith Hadesty and Shirley Becker to the Board of Health; Dan Schroeder and Tammy Swinburne to HARC; and Rob Jones and John Trudich to the Employee Pension committee.
Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt told council lighting upgrades that will result in significant savings to the borough have been progressing.
The borough has received three more recommendations for upgrades from Lenape Solar for the Bungalow park, the North and Middle Ward Playground and the East End Playground. Councilman David Mace said that the return on investment for each of the projects is a little bit longer than the ongoing projects and may be up to three years.
"I think that's reasonable," he said.
Council voted to proceed with those projects. Steigerwalt said that the Swatara Street Sewer project will be resuming in January. He has submitted the street material bids for 2014 to PennDOT and expects that there will be a bid opening in January.
Steigerwalt reminded residents to heed no parking signs related to snow removal, and that residents must have a three foot path cleared on their sidewalks within 24 hours of snowfall or they will be subject to fines under the Quality of Life ordinance.
Council adopted a resolution to allow the Tamaqua Area School District to regulate parking on Lehigh Street between Spruce and Penn Streets during school hours. The parking will be by permit only. The district will be responsible for posting signs and maintaining the permits.
Police Chief Rick Weaver noted that there have been 1,776 traffic arrests year to date, versus 384 last year. He attributed some of the increase to the license plate reader technology, but credited the majority of the increase to the hard work of police officers.
Council briefly discussed a "no parking" sign that had previously been installed by the Santander bank in the area of the post office boxes and the ATM. The sign is currently missing or has been taken down. Steigerwalt said that they will look into when the sign came down and why and possibly reinstall it or a similar sign regulating parking in the area.
Gursky provided a brief annual review, noting the sudden loss of Councilman Ken Smulligan as a significant loss for the community. He also commended the borough on finally getting the Owl Creek Dams fixed.
"They're set for the next 100 years. We finally got it done, after decades of discussion," he said.