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Lansford has problems with MEM also

Published March 10. 2011 05:00PM

A second community is taking to task a Lackawanna company that promised to save towns money by arranging for them to buy their street lights from PPL instead of leasing them.

Lansford borough council on Wednesday blasted Municipal Energy Management Inc. of Moscow for allegedly failing to make good on its pledge.

On Tuesday, Coaldale Council asked its solicitor to talk with his counterparts in surrounding boroughs to consider taking legal action against MEM.

Attorney Michael Greek, who is solicitor for both boroughs, said Wednesday he'd talk with Nesquehoning's solicitor and others about taking the next step.

Under the contract with MEM, the borough would buy its street lights from PPL. The power company would still own the poles and provide the electricity. MEM would upgrade and maintain the lights for a flat annual fee through 2037.

Lansford signed its contract with MEM in October 2009. Council took out a 20-year, $306,100 loan to buy the street lights. At the time, MEM representative Tim Moran said that if electric rates increase by 3 percent a year, the could potentially save $402,896 over 20 years. Once the debt is paid off, Moran told council at the time, the borough will save about $28,590.

On Wednesday, Councilwoman Rose Mary Cannon said she was "not happy" with MEM's performance so far.

"As far as anyone in the borough knows, they have not done a thing," she said. "And by June, we'll be due for another payment on our loan."

Greek said MEM wants to meet with the solicitors.

MEM has not returned telephone calls to its office seeking comment.

In other matters Wednesday, council agreed to buy a new oil burner for the borough offices on Patterson Street from HSA Mechanical Inc., Allentown, for $13,555. HSA was the lowest of six bidders for the project. Other bids ranged as high as $42,577.

This was the second round of bids council sought. The first round netted one bidder, Bognet of Hazleton, which wanted $80,000. One reason the bid was so high was that it included alternative heating for the old building while the new furnace was being installed. The HSA bid does not include that because the new furnace will be installed next to the existing one, which continue running until the new one is finished.

In other matters, council:

*Increased the amount of a tax anticipation loan it wants to borrow to $150,000 from $100,000. The loan, through M&T Bank, carries a 2.99 percent interest rate.

*Agreed to drop the $25 delinquent collection fee for sewer cut-offs. A $10 shut-off fee remains in place.

*Agreed to have LezTech maintain the borough website.

*Appointed Gregory Mousseau as Zoning Hearing Board solicitor.

*Listened to Jim Martino of the Carbon County Office of Planning and Development explain this year's Community Development Block Grant program.

Martino said the borough has an anticipated $116,000 in project costs and $20,880 in administrative costs.

However, he said, that amount may be reduced - by as much as 62 percent - due to drastic cuts in the state budget.

The projects would include improvements to Dock Street from the borough line east, about 1,000 feet, and on East Bertsch Street from Walnut to Chestnut.

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