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Lansford's spending woes

Published December 15. 2011 05:01PM

Lansford Borough's finances are still in such disarray and members have skipped so many budget meetings that the officials on Wednesday agreed for the most part to just adopt this year's spending plan all over again just to meet the letter of the law.

The budget will be opened again in January in another attempt to craft a 2012 spending plan.

Under the current $1,578,161 budget, the property tax increased by 3.06 mills, bringing the levy to 32.47 mills. That meant the owner of a home assessed for taxes at $25,000 paid $811.75 this year.

Council President Adam Webber offered the proposal.

"With the deadline fast approaching ... I think the feasibility of doing an accurate budget would be beyond our scope," he said. "My proposal is to adopt a mirror-image of what we adopted last year. Then, in January after reorganization, with the newly-elected officials, we open up the budget. That time will allow us to have more accurate numbers."

Councilwoman Rosemary Cannon pointed out that all four newly-elected members are incumbents.

Council members Lenny Kovach, Danielle Smith, Cannon and Webber voted in favor. Mary Kruczek and Tommy Vadyak opposed. Andrew Snyder had to leave prior to Webber's proposal.

In other matters, council:

• Approved a motion that secretary/treasurer Beth Seymour define the scope of duties given to borough businessman Bob Silver, who has volunteered to help organize the borough's financial records. Silver has apparently handled money and made bank deposits, duties council agreed he should not have.

• Agreed that all borough volunteers be advised that the town's insurance coverage does not apply to them. Solicitor Michael Greek said he would draft waivers for volunteers to sign.

• Listened as Kruczek scolded members for not volunteering at least an hour a week to help in the borough office. Vadyak took umbrage at that, saying he works. Kruczek suggested weekends. There ensued a lively debate over how that would work, since Seymour would need to be there to supervise. Kruczek suggested she leave early on Fridays, sparing the hours to use on Saturdays.

• Agreed to seek bids for work on the first phase of improvements to Cortright Street to prevent flooding at the Sports Zoo. Webber and Smith were opposed.

• Agreed to name part-time Police Officer Chris Ondrus as the liaison between the borough departments and computer technician Jeff Leslie. Currently, Leslie has been fielding calls from various people; a specific liaison would keep communications more reliable, council said. Webber and Smith opposed.

• Agreed to contact auditors Kirk Summa to get some answers as to why one of their employees, who is working to straighten out the borough's books, in September changed the way the records are kept. The change, Kruczek said, was unauthorized, confusing, done at an inopportune time and was unnecessary.

• Agreed, at Vadyak's request, to contact the borough's bonding company to ask that the borough be reimbursed for the cost of Kirk Summa's financial work. Webber and Smith were opposed.

• Vadyak, Cannon and Kruczek took Webber to task for contacting Ondrus to ask if police would be willing to forgo raises in light of the borough's financial crisis. Webber said he made the request as head of the Public Safety Committee, via email, because he understood Ondrus was the person who checks police email.

"You shouldn't have done that," Vadyak said.

Kruczek said that the matter was not one of public safety, but rather personnel, which is the bailiwick of full council.

• Kruczek lashed out at council for failing to show up for interviews of people applying for the job of part-time clerk. She said she noticed the applicants waiting out in the cold, and so she and Cannon came over and conducted interviews.

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