The borough of Tamaqua got some good news, after last month's bombshell that the borough could be paying approximately $7,700 in easement fees to the Reading and Northern Railroad for the relocation of water and sewer lines.
"The sewer and water authority solicitor has been in contact with the railroad and they do have another agreement in place," announced Councilman Brian Connely, who also serves on the water authority. "The water rate went to $733, with a three percent annual increase and the sewer went to $1,397, also with a three percent annual increase," he said. "There was a misunderstanding," he added. "That (the original $7,700) was the normal rate for a business or a for-profit type of entity," he clarified.
Connely said that the authorities and the railroad are still "dotting the i's and crossing the t's of the agreement," including how a refund of the money the borough has already paid will be handled, whether it will be returned to the borough or the borough will have a credit.
The decrease was a "pleasant surprise," said council president Micah Gursky. "They've repeatedly said that they don't charge an exorbitant fee. $700 with a 3% increase ever year is still a lot, but we'll give them credit for stepping up to reduce it." He added, "Our borough and the railroad are so intertwined, we're always going to have these little skirmishes."
Tom Cara, the chair of the finance, wage, and salary committee, said that the borough had been approached about refinancing three outstanding loans, one for the aerial fire truck purchase, one for the street light purchase and contract with MEM, and one for the Owl Creek reservoir project. The proposal from Financial Solutions, a company that has worked with the borough to procure financing in the past, could save the borough up to $323,000 and shorten the load from a 25 year one to a 20 year one.
Cara said that the committee had reviewed the proposal and recommended that council approve it at the next meeting. A representative from Financial Solutions will be in attendance.
Connely also brought up the fact that there have been several instances of residents placing trash out before the 24 hours prior to pickup that is allowed by the borough's ordinance. Connely said that it was most noticeable during the recent Memorial Day parade and festivities.
Councilman David Mace recommended that the borough's automated phone system be utilized to send reminders to residents when the pickup schedule changes. Connely said that it does not only happen on holidays, and asked that the police begin citing people who are in violation of the ordinance.
Connely asked that residents maintain their grass and properties and keep grass and weeds cut according to the borough's ordinances. Additionally, anyone who is moving in or out of the borough should be obtaining a moving permit, which can be obtained from the borough at no cost. Anyone who sees anyone moving in or out of the borough can contact the borough to be sure that the movers have the proper permit.
Council approved the hiring of two temporary summer workers to help work on sewer maps. Tom Avenoso and Daniel Starry were hired at a rate of $10 per hour. Connely said that both are students in the engineering field.
Resident Herb Curvey asked why the committee that had been formed to reach out to Blue Ridge Cable about extending service to Tamaqua had met with Service Electric instead. Councilman John Trudich clarified that there had been a mistake and the committee will contact Blue Ridge in the future.
Resident Ed Sweigert of Pine Street asked what the borough is doing about feral cats. Sweigert said that the cats in his neighborhood are so bad that he can't keep his windows open or let his dog out in the yard. Council asked if anyone in the neighborhood is feeding the cats. Sweigert responded that they are. Council advised Sweigert to contact the borough and make a formal complaint. The borough's recently adopted ordinance requires anyone who feeds feral cats to assume responsibility for them.
Kathryn Wagner was hired as an additional lifeguard for the Bungalow Pool. Joseph Krebs was hired as a part time police officer.
Council approved the purchase of an aluminum diving board for the Howard Buehler Memorial pool.
Rob Jones, the director of public works, said that work at the Owl Creek reservoir is continuing and the proposed change order that was not to exceed $21,000 actually came in at $13,448.
Jones advised council that one additional property has connected to the sewer, however, three more properties that are illegally discharging have been discovered. "The more we look, the more we're going to find," he said.
The borough got a request from the Hazleton YMCA to reduce the pool's daily rate of $10 for children participating in their day camp. They are planning several field trips to the Bungalow. Council denied the request this year, but the youth and recreation committee will look into an organization rate for next season.
Council approved a request from Kim Woodward, the Tamaqua Middle School art teacher, to repaint the mural that is on Lafayette Street. The original mural was completed in 2000 by high school students. Woodward said that she had gotten approval from the original advisor for the project to redo it and that the new mural will be scenes from Tamaqua's past, present and future.
Council recognized several Tamaqua High School students and coaches for their recent accomplishments at the PIAA District XI and state track and field championships.
Council approved James Barron to serve on the planning commission and HARC.