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Residents pack meeting to object to taking out a $3 million loan

Published May 09. 2011 05:00PM

The May 5 meeting of the Towamensing supervisors opened with a moment of silence for the passing of Curt Beers. Supervisor Penny Kleintop said he was helpful in many ways including being on the zoning hearing board and historical commission.

"He will be sorely missed. We give condolences to the family," said Kleintop.

At the April meeting Supervisor Tom Newman made a motion to put off taking out a $3 million loan for the new municipal complex. It died for lack of a second.

During the month someone went around knocking on doors passing out leaflets against the loan. Residents had signed a note and returned it, and were at the meeting to see what happened.

Kleintop said she had a statement to read. She said, "Many of you are here about whether we should indebt the residents for $3 million dollars. Tom Newman made a motion (last month) that we should cease and desist on all building projects."

It is the last year for the lease on the state police barracks. It has been there for over 40 years and people take it for granted. When land was purchased the possibility of a barracks was mentioned. It has to be a separate building. Kleintop said the rent would cover the loan and operations.

It would be advantageous for the township to have the state police here.

"I would never saddle this township with a loan we cannot pay without raising taxes," she said. She said she did not think the leaflets were passed out by anyone running for office but did not know who did.

Newman said it is nice to have the police in the township but why should government bid for the project against private people or companies? The police in the Lehighton barracks cover a vast area. "We will have coverage."

Resident Guy Seifert asked if supervisors know how many of their constituents want it. He said a 911 call was made and it took the police 40 minutes to respond. He doesn't know how valid the question of local coverage is.

"You are there to carry out the desires of your constituents. It's a polarizing issue. I agree we do not have the best (municipal) building. We bought property and are sitting on it. I don't believe from what I'm hearing that they (constituents) want it. I didn't write the letter but think it was a good idea," Seifert said.

Resident David Beers asked if the building could be put on the ballot. It wasn't known.

Resident Delbert Knecht said it is throwing away money the township doesn't have. Former Rep. Keith McCall said the township qualified for a grant.

Kleintop said any and all grants are on hold. "We are talking about a police barracks now - an entirely separate building. Bidding for the police is a long and tedious business. We haven't heard from Harrisburg."

The terms of a lease are negotiated after the township has received the bid for the building. "We negotiate for more than the payments. After it is paid off the money will come to the township," Kleintop said. The barracks have to meet state specifications.

A resident asked if they planned to build the municipal and police buildings. He wanted to know when the township will know about the bid for the police barracks.

Newman said the township should not consider it at all in these economic times.

The resident said school taxes are going up and the township will have to raise taxes sometime because Gov. Tom Corbett will cut more state assistance. Repairing is the way the township has to go. The governor might come back and say there is no money for police.

Supervisor Rodney George said liquid fuel is the only thing that has been cut and the state said that is because people are driving less.

Resident Stanley Hahn asked if the township knows what the police are paying now.

A woman said she had amortized a $3 million loan and said the cost would be $17,000. The township has 10.3 percent unemployment. She said it is taxpayer money and they have a right to know where it is going. "You need a contingency plan."

Solicitor Tom Nanovic reminded everyone that the land had been purchased for a municipal building.

Kleintop said they had talked about rentable space for nonprofits or government units inside the building..

She was asked if a traffic study had been done. The land is near Forest Inn Road with several businesses in the area.

Earl Beers said if supervisors expect better police service with the police in Towamensing, they are mistaken.

Resident Ken Kuntz said he couldn't understand why the township wants to build.

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