Lansford borough council called a special meeting Tuesday so that Mayor Ron Hood could break tie votes on whether to allow secretary-treasurer Renee Slakoper to work from home because a mold problem in the borough offices and whether council should hold executive sessions before instead of after public meetings.
But Hood couldn't attend the meeting, and with councilwoman Danielle Smith absent, council again deadlocked - this time on whether to bring the matters to a second vote. Council members Tommy Vadyak, Rose Mary Cannon and Mary Kruczek were opposed on both matters, with council members Andrew Snyder, Lenny Kovach and president Adam Webber in favor.
Council must schedule another special meeting to have Hood cast the deciding vote on both matters.
Council also decided to hold two meetings a month, on the second and fourth Wednesdays, in order to avoid lengthy meetings. Council currently meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month. The decision to hold two meetings stemmed from a debate over when to hold the executive sessions. Kruczek opposed the move.
Cannon and Vadyak were concerned that if the sessions were held before the public meetings, the public would be forced to wait outside the community center, where meetings are held, in the dark and in bad weather.
Vadyak said that a later starting time - council is considering starting the public meetings at 7:30 p.m. - would keep older residents away from the meetings because the sessions would then run later into the night.
Webber said holding the executive sessions after the meeting doesn't fit the schedule of at least one councilman, who often has to leave to get to work before he can vote on matters discussed in the closed sessions.
The debate will likely resume during the expected special meeting.
The deadlocks happened at a public meeting on April 13. At that meeting, following heated debates, council tied on both matters.
The vote on whether to allow Slakoper to work from home rose from the problem with the mold that grew in the office, above the American Fire Co. at 23 East Patterson Street, because of leaks. It was discovered in January.
Kovach, Smith and Webber voted to allow Slakoper, who has a doctor's note attesting to her sensitivity to the mold, to work from home. Vadyak, Kruczek and Cannon were opposed, citing concerns about confidentiality and the possibility of misplaced materials. Snyder was not present for the vote, having left to go to work.
Vadyak suggested moving the borough office to the community center, which also houses the police station and the code enforcement office.
However, on Tuesday, Kovach said he believes there is also mold in the police station, and Webber said it would take about a month to move the office, and would take money to establish a new business account with Windstream, the borough's Internet provider.
Slakoper said she would be able to be in the office for short amounts of time.
Webber authorized the office to be moved to an adjacent room on April 1. He came under fire from Vadyak and Cannon for making the decision without consulting several other council members. Webber offered to forfeit his $900 annual stipend for serving on council until the $720 cost of the move is met.
In other matters Tuesday, council agreed to hire Mauch Chunk Chimney Sweeps to clean and inspect the chimney in the fire station/borough office. The chimney may also need a liner.
Council also agreed to hold the borough's community yard sale in conjunction with neighboring Coaldale's, on May 14, with a rain date of May 21.