Eight mayors from throughout Carbon County met at the Inn at Jim Thorpe to talk about issues that are facing each of their communities and how they can work and communicate with each other to help solve problems.
They and other county mayors have formed the "Association of Mayors of the Boroughs of Carbon County" to achieve that goal.
In attendance for this meeting were Jim Thorpe Mayor Michael Sofranko, Nesquehoning Mayor Tony Walck, Bowmanstown Mayor Keith Billig, Palmerton Mayor Brad Doll, Weatherly Mayor Tom Connors, Lehighton Mayor Donald Rehrig, Lansford Mayor Ron Hood and Beaver Meadows Mayor William Hines.
The new association's by-laws read the purposes of the association shall be as follows:
1. To develop a closer official and personal relationship among the mayors of Carbon County.
2. To promote unity of action in matters pertaining to the mayors and to their duties.
3. To exchange information among mayors in order to give better service to the borough each represents.
4. To work toward closer cooperation with borough governments and all other organizations involved in local government.
5. To preserve and promote the Office of the Mayor and support the mayor-council form of borough government.
6. To actively promote and lobby for progressive legislation in the best interest of the communities members represent.
Mayor Sofranko, who hosted the meeting, noted "we did form an official Association of Mayors of the Boroughs of Carbon County and we came up with a list of our purposes.
"We didn't get into anything really deep as far as elected association officials because all the mayors feel that they're on the same table. Tonight we had a presentation by Nesquehoning Mayor Walck talking about CERT Community Emergency Response Team of Carbon County and the Citizen Corps Council of Carbon County."
CERT is a training program that prepares you to help yourself, your family, and your neighbors in the event of a disaster.
The program is designed to introduce Carbon County residents to introductory courses in basic first aid, triage, disaster preparedness, fire suppression, light search and rescue, and terrorism awareness.
Neighbors helping neighbors is its goal.
Anyone desiring more information on CERT can call (570) 325-3097.
In addition to the presentations and discussions during this meeting, Sofranko added that "There are some letters we're going to be sending out to our state representatives and to our congressmen in the federal government asking for issues to be looked at that deal with what we as mayors and police departments have been handling. We're also going to be inviting them here to hear the concerns we have."
One issue they wish to discuss with state and federal representatives is that currently when a speeding ticket is issued in Pennsylvania there is a $25 fine that comes back and is written up for local enforcement.
Of that amount, the boroughs with police departments receive $12.50 out of the total ticket issued, whether it be an $80 or $100 fine.
"We're not asking to raise the fine we're asking to raise the allotment that comes back to the local municipalities," said Sofranko, "an amount that has not been raised in about 25 years."
Municipalities pay for the officer who is enforcing speeding violations, and also for the officer to attend court hearings, which adds to the costs for the municipalities.
In agreement with the others, Lehighton Mayor Rehrig reassured, "While the low allotment is a hit on our budgets, it's not going to stop us from stopping speeders. We're still going to be out there doing our job, controlling traffic."
Nesquehoning Mayor Walck added "handling things like robbery, domestics, or drug activity will of course take priority over speeding enforcement due to manpower limitations. We don't have the resources people think that we have."
Another major subject discussed that is affecting municipalities' operating expenses was illegal immigration's effects on local budgets.
Right now there are only two places to take illegal immigrants one is Scranton and the other is Philadelphia.
When a local municipality has to transport an illegal immigrant to Scranton or Philadelphia, and they only have one or two police officers out that evening, the amount of money that it cost the local taxpayers is remarkable.
They have to use two officers to transport illegal aliens, so if they only have two officers on duty, they have to call somebody else out to cover the town while the officers transport them.
The mayors hope to try to work with the county so they can put them in the county correctional facility and eliminate the problems of transporting them out of the area.
Summing up the feelings of those present about the association, Weatherly Mayor Connors said "little by little we're learning about the different communities and that helps all of us because we can learn from one another. Sometimes you can pick up a good idea from someone else or you may learn about something that did not work for them and it may not work for you."
Connors added "The more you communicate with one another, the better for everybody."
Palmerton Mayor Doll agreed.
"We're not our own little islands, we're all interconnected," said Doll. "Why not interact with meetings like this?"
The Association of Mayors of the Boroughs of Carbon County discussed other issues which will be handled with letters being sent to state representatives and federal officeholders.
The mayors extended their thanks to The Inn at Jim Thorpe and the Drury family for allowing them the use of their facilities.