A vacant seat on Palmerton Borough Council has been filled by a councilman who last month lost out on his bid for re-election.
Council on a 6-0 vote, with one abstention, agreed on Thursday to appoint Councilman Randy Gursky to fill the two-year term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2011. Gursky abstained from the vote.
Two other candidates, Philip Binder and Jeremy Barbosa, also submitted letters of interest to fill the post that became vacant when former Councilman Brad Doll resigned last month after he was elected mayor.
The resignation of Doll also left vacancies on the borough planning commission, as well as the borough Shade Tree Committee.
Also on Thursday, council recognized outgoing Mayor Peter Delich for his 30 years of service to the borough, 20 of which were spent as mayor.
Council President Terry Costenbader lauded Delich for his longevity with the borough.
"I've probably been around most of your 20 years as mayor, and that's a really nice thing that you contributed that much time to the borough and municipality," Costenbader said. "Thank you very much."
Doll, who was elected as the successor to Delich, congratulated him on a job well done.
"You set the bar really high for someone like me," Doll said.
For his part, Delich told council this particular assemblage of council members is among the best he's worked with.
"I've been with the borough for 30 years, 20 years as mayor, and during that time, I've met and worked with many great people," Delich said. "Our police department is rated the best in the [Carbon] county."
Delich told Doll he has faith in him that the police department will remain on its current course.
Council also held the first of two public hearings on Community Development Block Grant Funding.
Judy Borger, Carbon County director of planning and development, told council the borough is among five entitlement communities that are expected to receive a total of $272,462 in CDBG funding next year.
Borger said the borough's share is expected to be about $111,123, and added that it has until Jan. 11 to submit its request to her office.
She said a second CDBG public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 28, at which time council is expected to decide what project it plans to spend the funds on.
Borough Manager Rodger Danielson told council he already has a project in mind.
Last year, Danielson said the borough designated its CDBG funds to pave the 200, 300, and 400 blocks of Lehigh Avenue. Since then, he said the borough received another $31,000 that was earmarked to make the areas handicapped accessible.
However, Danielson noted there is a water line in that area that should be replaced before the borough paves the streets, and suggested council combine a portion of its CDBG funds in recent years with next year's allotment to afford the project.
"We have a minimally sized water line in that area," he said. "It is my recommendation to council that we do the replacement of that water line, and then follow it up with the paving of that street."
Council also granted Doll permission to pursue a potential $50,000 grant he said could be used to fund an additional full-time police officer, or be used to help with possible overtime expenses.
"Not only does it save for the hiring of an officer, but also if you run into budgetary problems, such as overtime," said Doll, who added the chances the borough would receive the grant is slim.
On a somber note, council agreed it would send a card to the family of Carbon County Judge David Addy, who passed away Thursday morning.
Councilman Chris Olivia expressed kind words toward Addy.
"That would be nice," Olivia said. "He was a good man."
In other business, council
Ÿ Agreed to adopt a resolution compromising certain real estate taxes for buildings and parcels of real property, formerly part of the Palmerton Zinc Company Holdings, for Northface Development, LLC, Lehighton, which plans to purchase the Palmerton West Plant out of abandonment in bankruptcy, and convert it into a 100-acre-plus sustainable high tech office park that could create thousands of jobs. Danielson said the amount waived would be in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $25,000.
Ÿ Approved, on a 4-2 vote, with one abstention, the 2010 salary schedule that calls for a 1-percent increase. Councilmen Richard Nothstein, Jason Behler, Olivia, and Councilwoman Sherri Malik were in favor, with Doll and Costenbader opposed. Gursky abstained from the vote.
Ÿ Accepted the resignation of Steven Serfass as the borough's zoning hearing board solicitor due to his election to the Carbon County judgeship. Council said it would send Serfass a letter of thanks, and announced it would accept letters of interest from candidates to fill the vacancy.
Ÿ Granted Horsehead Corporation's request for a subdivision review extension until March 1, 2010.
Ÿ Granted the Fairview subdivision review an extension until Jan. 30, 2010.
Ÿ Recognized police officer John Rupell (20 years) and police Chief Randy Smith (25 years), as well as public works employee Dennis Behler (25 years) for their years of service to the borough.
Ÿ Approved the renewal of its sludge disposal contract from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2010. The new contract calls for a 1.5-percent increase over this year's rate.
Ÿ Approved a handicapped parking request for Lisa Bolin-Hicks at 578 Mauch Chunk Road.
Ÿ Denied a handicapped parking request for Jackie Morgan at 214 Princeton Avenue.
Ÿ Announced it will hold its reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 4.