Carbon mayors meet for third time
VICTOR IZZO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS In attendance in the Conference Room at The Inn in Jim Thorpe for the third meeting of the Association of Mayors of the Boroughs of Carbon County were front, left to right : Bowmanstown Mayor Keith Billig, new Recording Secretary Jamie Solomon, and Summit Hill Mayor Paul McArdle. Standing, from left : Jim Thorpe Mayor Michael Sofranko, Lansford Mayor Ron Hood, and Beaver Meadows Mayor William Hines.
Carbon County's third Mayor's Meeting was held last week in the Conference Room at The Inn in Jim Thorpe to talk about issues that are facing each of their communities.
The Association of Mayors of the Boroughs of Carbon County's agenda for new business to be discussed at the meeting included :
1. Discuss a February 2013 meeting date, time, and place and update any information.
2. Mailed letters to the Carbon County Commissioners and the Schuylkill County Commissioners and also invited all Mayors of Carbon County to attend their monthly meeting.
3. Sent same letter to Sen. Robert P Casey Jr. and Congressman Lou Barletta for their support on the recertification of the Carbon County Prison for illegal immigrants.
To the present received a questionnaire from Sen. Robert Casey's office which needs to be filled out and returned.
4. Mayor Ron Hood of Lansford would like to discuss prisoner transports from various jails to court by local PD.
5. Discuss Citizen Corps Council and hand out material.
Commenting on the evening's business, Jim Thorpe Mayor Michael Sofranko said "we've met three times this year and there have been quite a few things we've accomplished from the last time we met."
"Tonight we wrapped it up for the year. Next year when we start out, we're going to bring in our local representation whether it be a state senator or a local representative."
"They have agreed to speak at our meeting and hear the concerns that we've established for next year, some of the concerns that we handled on the local front this year, and what we are going to continue to look into in the future."
"There were some other concerns that we're going to take to our senators and that the state can help us out with."
"One is the MEM street lighting issues that have gone on and how much that has cost the boroughs here."
MEM (Municipal Energy Managers Inc.) failed to fulfill its promises to save local towns thousands of dollars in street lighting costs and has cost many municipalities losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Another major issue discussed CENTAX (Central Tax Bureau of Pennsylvania Inc.) which has gone bankrupt and had handled the Earned Income Tax not only here in Carbon County but also in Luzerne County and there are parts of that county where Beaver Meadows is involved in all of this."
"Because of this, there's a lot of boroughs out anywhere from 40 to hundreds of thousands of dollars in Earned Income Tax and this was from Act 32 which was enacted by the state representatives and the state."
"The Association of Mayors of the Boroughs of Carbon County would like to say "these boroughs need this money."
Mayor Sofranko added "the state needs to get involved with this and find out why we can't get that money collected or at least direct us in the right area instead of tying it up."
Also speaking on CENTAX, Beaver Meadows Mayor William Hines noted that " Beaver Meadows is in Luzerne County only because our school district is in Luzerne County."
"We're tied up with CENTAX too. At this point in time, we're short $40,000 and that's hurting the borough big time."
"Last council meeting, the council gave the council president the okay to lay off people if need be."
"There's almost 10 million dollars in a fund from CENTAX that's frozen by a judge - that's our money."
In that regard, Mayor Sofranko added "all too often things get tied up in the court system and it sits there."
"In the mean time, there's real-time people out there that are getting laid off and getting hurt because we don't have the money to operate."
"Just like the MEM problem, these are two companies that have come in, taken over, and then they've gone bankrupt and people are out of money - something needs to be done."
In a separate matter, Mayor Sofranko noted "nobody sits here as a Chairman. We're all sitting here as Mayors for the common good of the county."
"We did feel that we should get someone here that could keep minutes for us and keep track of what's happening."
"We sought a volunteer who would do these services on their own time."
The Mayor announced that "Jamie Solomon, who has spearheaded the Community Watch here in Jim Thorpe has agreed to volunteer her time as our Recording Secretary."
The mayors present wished to thank The Inn in Jim Thorpe and the Drury family for allowing them to hold their meeting there and for the use of their facilities.
Eventually, they hope to move the meetings around to the different boroughs throughout the county.