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Officials say sharing services working in Panther Valley

Published July 30. 2019 12:03PM

An agreement for sharing maintenance services among three Panther Valley municipalities appears to be working well and saving money.

On Monday, officials of those municipalities — Coaldale, Lansford and Summit Hill — discussed the joint services agreement during a meeting in the Summit Hill borough hall.

The officials in attendance not only are in agreement that the system appears to be working, but agreed to look into purchasing equipment together.

The shared services include such things as street sweeping, street maintenance and even plowing snow.

Summit Hill Councilman William O’Gurek said, “The way budgets are, we can’t do it on our own anymore.”

Michael Kokinda, president of Summit Hill Council, agreed, saying with the municipalities sharing equipment and even manpower, “We’re definitely saving a lot of money doing it ourselves.”

Kokinda’s comments came after the officials discussed generally the possibility of purchasing a new street paver together.

“We would go in on one with you,” said Coaldale council member Claire Remington.

Remington said by having their own street paver, the boroughs can repair four streets for what it costs to repair one if the services are put out to a contractor.

Presently, Summit Hill has a paver, but it might soon have to be replaced. It is estimated the paver was purchased in 2009.

Lansford Councilman Bill Chuma said the officials would have to speak with their respective solicitors to see how a joint purchase might be attained.

Lansford Council President Jared Soto said a joint purchase could net financial savings in the long run for all three municipalities.

Ronald Yuricheck, work force supervisor for Summit Hill, agreed. He used an example of a $29,000 used paver. He said if each municipality contributes $10,000 to the cost, and it lasts 10 years, the cost is $1,000 per year for each borough. Renting such a piece of equipment costs $2,800 for four weeks, he said.

Summit Hill Councilman David Wargo suggested the boroughs update their inventory of equipment.

He also suggested the joint services agreement be reviewed by the three municipalities and possibly be updated.

He said he would like to see more accountability for how many man hours and how many equipment hours are utilized in each of the participating communities.

Yuricheck said last year he compiled such a report and the man hours shared are pretty even among the towns.

Kokinda indicated he is pleased with the present setup, saying, “If we can help each other out and save money, it’s a no-brainer.”

“It evens out,” Chuma said.

Yuricheck added, “Even if it doesn’t even out in one year, it evens out the next year.”

Councilman Bruce Markovich of Lansford said, “The most important thing here is you’re getting a job done in your community that’s important.”

Wargo said there is an economic advantage to the three towns working together. He said a region with 10,000 people (Lansford, Summit Hill and Coaldale combined) has a better chance at getting government grants than an individual community with 3,000 or 4,000 people.

Since it was advertised as a meeting of the streets committees of the three boroughs, no formal action occurred during the meeting.

Representing Summit Hill were Kokinda, Wargo, O’Gurek and Karen Ruzicka.

Only Remington was present from Coaldale.

From Lansford were Soto, Chuma, Markovich and Bob Silver.

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