We, the Concerned Citizens of Coaldale, want to clarify some misunderstandings and confusion caused by certain remarks made at the October 2013 Coaldale borough council meeting, as well as earlier events.
The interpretation of the statistics cited at the October council meeting of the number of call responses was flawed for the following reasons: Chief Delaney's scheduling was always revised according to the directions cited by the Coaldale Council's attorney (including limits to shifts given to the previously full-time officers). Later, scheduling was taken away from the chief and assignements made by the mayor. The three officers cited were rehired at 32 hours for the period 3/1/2012 through 2/28/2013 (containing the 2012 figures cited by the Mayor at the Oct. meeting) the three officers (he cited Blesse at 144 calls, Krapf at 187 calls, and Weiss at 142 calls) were splitting 4 to 5 shifts/week between them. This allowed only 8 to 16 hours per week of work for these officers. Officer Krebs, with 544 calls cited, was working 4 shifts weekly for 32 hours per week. The comparison by the mayor compared responses for three officers working 32 to 40 hours per month to an officer working 128-plus hours per month. They cannot be directly compared, as implied at the meeting.
In the September 2013 meeting, Councilman Keerans reportedly stated the borough was on track for a millage reduction next year (2014). At the October 2013 meeting, the mayor proclaimed the borough fiscally solvent. It is also reported that the mayor made inquiries of the borough solicitor regarding municipal bankruptcy. These contradicting concerns seem to present a schizophrenic approach to municipal finance. The mayor further revealed that greater than of Coaldale's taxpayers are delinquent. Yet, it appears that the current Coaldale Borough council has taken no actions to rectify this. Citizen demands for a forensic audit have been ignored and blocked by the current council members.
In the October 2013 meeting, the mayor attributes Coaldale's fiscal solvency to actions of this council at the February 2012 meeting firing three full time officers and two borough workers. Following the tempestuous March 2012 meeting (where the vast majority of citizens speaking voiced their dissatisfaction with the firings and the 2012 budget) one of our members decided to pursue the situation further. The C.C.of C. member had serious questions regarding the process by which the enacted, second 2012 budget was developed, voted upon, and passed unanimously by the council the same day. The member submitted the question with a description of the events around the passage of the 2012 Coaldale Budget (as seen from external perspective the C.C. of C. members) to State Senator David G. Argall. Senator Argall passed the problem and documents on to the Local Government Commission in Harrisburg.
The executive director, Michael P. Gasbarre, sent a citation-laden report back to Senator Argall. While stating their office is prohibited from rendering legal advice, he advised that 'the Senator's constituent might make the claim that the budgetary process for the passage of the second 2012 Coaldale operating budget deviated from the requirements of both the Sunshine Act and Borough Code'. He notes that no state level mechanism exists to address such violations; it is up to the residents to enforce the Act. Unfortunately, by that time, the window for an appeal had expired.
These facts speak volumes about the bad faith efforts that the current council has afforded to the citizens of Coaldale and the town's employees.
We suspect the council is now trying to tie Coaldale to the current council's policies, selected personnel, and spending commitments prior to the end of the current council's tenure. Last Friday 10/25/2013, council ran a classified in the Times News for a new police chief, despite the fact Chief Delaney (out on disability) still holds the office. On Saturday 10/26/2013, several ads for part time police officers were placed in more distant newspapers.
Our town's future is at stakein next Tuesday's election.