Tamaqua residents will not be facing a tax increase next year. Council voted to advertise the 2013 budget and tax ordinance keeping the borough's rate fixed at 16.25 mills for general purposes, 0.5 mill for the building and equipment fund, and 0.5 mill for the Wabash improvement fund. Additionally, there will be no increase to the borough's garbage, water or sewer fees. Council is poised to adopt the budget at its first December meeting. Councilman John Trudich noted his dissatisfaction with the 0.5 mills for the building and equipment fund, indicating that he thought it should be more.
Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt noted there are two more properties that will be connected to the public sewer system shortly, bringing the total to 70 properties out of 76 that have been connected as part of the wildcat sewer project. Steigerwalt said the borough owned property at 223 Pine Street has been listed through Charlotte Solt Realty. Demolition is proceeding with a property at 208 Gay Street.
On the recommendation of the parking and traffic committee, council approved a handicap parking space at 20 N. Greenwood Street, however, it was noted that the spot may need to be moved when construction on the East Broad Street bridge commences. Council heard a request from several residents of Arlington Street to remove a spot at 514 Arlington Street, since the applicant is no longer living at the address.
Council heard from several residents regarding neighbor complaints about a property on Clay Street. Council took the information under advisement and said that the borough's police, code enforcement and fire department will look into possible violations on the property.
Resident Tony Rodrigue, of South Railroad Street, questioned the proposed pawn shop and second hand store ordinace that Council is considering passing. "Are the federal laws and the Commonwealth laws insufficient for the police to deal with the issues that we have with them," he asked. According to Rodrique, the proposed ordinance could apply to any property that may deal with any kind of used goods and require them to be licensed. "It could apply to tire stores, Smulligan's Glass shop, myself, as an internet merchant, art galleries. It also precludes us from leaving our primary place of business to purchase goods for our sale. Antique dealers would not be able to go to garage sales," he said. The ordinance would require business owners to keep a written record of all property received for sale and detail from where the item was obtained. The intent is to track stolen property and prevent it from being sold.
Police Chief Dave Mattson, who has been requesting the ordinance from Council, said that Rodrigue's questions would need to be addressed by the borough's solicitor Michael Greek, who was not at the meeting. "You don't see the Feds coming in and checking those things, though," he said. "This authorizes me to come in."
Rodrique responded, "This circumvents you having to go to the magistrate to get a warrant for probable cause." Mattson said, "This ordinance allows me to go in and check the books. It makes it easier for me to go in without a warrant." He added," It's good for any reputable business to keep track of where they've gotten items." Council held an executive session for personnel matters.