The registered voters of the McAdoo Borough appear divided on the issue to reduce the borough council from seven to five councilpersons, according to testimony presented before Judge Jacqueline Russell Wednesday in Schuylkill County court. The court will render a decision in the near future.
The hearing was on a petition filed by Dane Watro, mayor, and the Republican Party, for the reduction. There were petitions submitted showing 248 agreed to the reduction and 111 opposed the reduction.
The borough's population is down to 2,300 and the number of registered voters in the borough is 1,295, including 678 Democrats and 515 Republicans. Council is made up of four Democrats and three Republicans.
Watro testified at last Feb. 14 work session he brought up the issue of reducing council membership based on suggestions made by private citizens. He said the entire council was in favor and he passed a petition around to begin the process and all council members signed it. His other reasons was that the borough would be eliminating two salaries.
Council members are paid $1,800 per year plus expenses. "This may not seem like a lot of saving," Watro told the court, "but to this small borough it would be significant to be used for other needs." He also claimed there would be more civility at the meetings as the current seven member board is involved in "bickering, name calling and the meetings are non productive."
Councilman William Slovick concurred with the mayor and added that not all current council members participate with some not wishing to serve on committees or not taking park in committee discussions. He added that it would be easier to get five candidates.
Russell commented that in past hearings she held on reductions of council membership the main claim was it was difficult to get people to run for office. Slovick said this is not the issue with McAdoo.
Two council members took the witness stand to oppose the reduction, although they initially had signed the petition presented by the mayor favoring the reduction.
Councilwoman Clara Preputnich said she at first considered it a good proposal but after re-evaluating the proposal she decided it would not be such a great savings and seven people can handle the work load better than five. "Why break something that is working," she told the judge.
Councilman Joseph A. Madochick said he also had a change of mind when he saw the Republican Party's name attached to the petition. However, his main reason for change of mind because there would be a greater burden placed on less members. He said he chairs two committees and serves on four other committees and there is a lot of work involving council members.
Attorney Christine M. Holman, representing the petitioners seeking reduction, argued to the court that this was not political, pointing out the Democratic Party is the majority party in the borough.
Attorney Thomas J. Campion Jr., representing those opposed, pointed to the number of petitioners who opposed the change and that it would reduce the efficiency of the council.