REPORTS: SUPERVISORS, MANAGER, ENGINEER & SOLICITOR
- Chairman John Ackerman said that he received reports from every department and was pleased.
- Supervisor Henning Holmgaard gave kudos to the Police Department for what they just went through in the accreditation process.
- Supervisor Don Miller reported that of the three Township football teams to go on the finals, two of them made it, the midgets and the peewees. He added that sign-up for the winter sports is over and that 425 kids have signed up for basketball and 70 for wrestling. Of the 425 there are 150 who signed up for the instructional league (6-8 year olds).
- Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that she submitted a written report to the Board and that much time is now being spent on coordinating the move into the new building.
- Kichline also reported that there is a committee resurrecting the Two Rivers Council of Governments and that they will focus on yard waste, composting and recycling programs.
- Kichline requested that the Board okay payment of the $3500 that it promised to the Greenway Plan development in February 2001 and never paid. Ackerman asked if it was a one time payment and when told that it was, said "okay."
- Police Chief Greg Dorney said that the 2 day onsite assessment by the accreditation staff went well. They spent 1-1/2 days reviewing policy and ½ day riding with officers. Dorney said that they had a debriefing with him before they left. He stated that their comments were positive and he is confident that he’ll have an invitation for December 13th to be in Harrisburg to accept the department’s accreditation.
- Fire Chief (and Zoning Officer) Tim Weis related that the fire department appreciates the new building and that it is giving them a great sense of pride.
- DPW Director Gary Sandt said that "Public Works is still waiting for its new facility." He also said that they have been very busy and have collected 10 loads of leaves a day.
- Finance Manager Jim Farley related that they are adding modules to the accounting system software as well as planning and preparing for the move. Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas asked why the software is still being worked on since it was supposed to have been completely implemented (the conversion) in 3 months? Kichline explained that the interim data coming on disk from the EASD is not working and that manual entries are required. Supervisor David Hoff added that the EIT will be ready in January and that the delay was agreed to. Holmgaard explained it as a problem because they didn’t start on the the 1st of the year. Ackerman asked if the extra time was costing the Township more and was told by Kichline, "Not a cent."
- Solicitor Karl Kline reported that the Knox Avenue Senior Associates filed a tax assessment appeal for their building and that the Crivellaro sewer capacity purchase (21K/gals/day) is coming along. Williams Township is the holdup. It should be resolved by their next meeting. He also said that the citizens suing Howard Construction are withdrawing their lawsuit. Engineer Fred Hay confirmed this.
Hoff said that the Board received an email from Vito Tamborrino, Planning Commission Chairman, requesting reimbursement of half of his expenses to attend a seminar in Philadelphia that his company had him attend. In the email Tamborrino said that ½ was directly related to his architectural work and ½ would benefit the Township as it had to do with planning. Nicholas objected to reimbursing him since his company sent him. Ackerman said that no bills should come for payment if the Board did not give its permission. Ackerman asked if Tamborrino turned in a report about the seminar? Hoff said that he felt that the seminar was fully paid for by his company. A resident suggested that the Board have Tamborrino come before it to explain. A motion to NOT pay was passed 5:0.
COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS)
- Roy White from the Easton Suburban Water Authority addressed the Board in the Comments section instead of as an agenda item (his choice) about the merger between the ESWA and the City of Easton (water department). He described the history of the ESWA as being created by the City of Easton in 1958 and incorporated in the State as a non-profit entity. The ESWA serves 21,000 customers and 8 municipalities. Its board of directors (9 members) is chosen by the Easton mayor, voted on by council, and under state law must be comprised of a majority (5) of Easton residents. The ESWA began talking to Easton about the merger in order to fulfill its mission statement to provide the best quality water to their customers. In 1988 the ESWA started taking over the facilities that serve its customers. He added that the water treatment plant is in need of $17-20 million in capital improvements and under the current agreement (from 1958), the ESWA would be responsible of 80% of it (since their customers use 80% of it). This would mean that the Authority would have to come up with $16 million for the improvements and have no control over the operation and maintenance of it. About three years ago the Authority and the City of Easton entered into a memorandum of understanding in which the Authority became the controlling interest in managing the project. The Authority then approached the City to take over the operation of the water treatment plant. The ESWA, as a concession to the city, agreed to take over distribution with the condition that they take some of the city’s employees. The Authority will no longer have to pay a water bill to the City and will be the one taking the initiative to get the financing. Holmgaard commented that there are reports of water bills never paid. White said that they amount to $175K. Ackerman asked when the deal will be finalized? White replied that the city hopes to have it done in the next couple of months. There was discussion of a PennVest low interest loan as the source of funds for the capital improvements. PennVest requires that the applicant be the owner or the operator. Kline asked if the ownership of the plant was going to be turned over to the Authority or if the City would remain the owner. White said that the City will retain ownership and the Authority will have a very tight lease agreement for 25 years, the same term as the loans. By becoming the operator of the entire system, a "water district" will be created and the City rates and the local rates will be maintained. The rates of course, will increase to pay the debt.
- Resident Richard Couch proposed reinstating Forks Township Day as a way for non-profit groups like the Boy Scouts, churches, & Kiwanis to raise money. Nicholas said that he ran similar events like this where he lived before (Allamuchy Day in Allamuchy, NJ) and would be happy to run one for Forks. Ackerman asked that he make up a plan and present it to the Board. Miller remarked that it’s a lot of work.
- Resident Ken Nagy expressed his thanks to Mr. White (ESWA) for coming to the meeting. He remarked that the ESWA will be leasing the equipment from the City of Easton. He said that the City was told by the courts recently that it can’t take its water funds and put them into the general fund. Nagy said that this does exactly that and that the potential for litigation is there. He said that to break even $175/yr will be needed from each Easton water user. Nagy mentioned the existing pension and health plans and said that they were underfunded. He then asked White if the 20 employees will be coming over as union employees and White said no and added that the Authority does not have a union. Nagy expressed his opinion that the townships are being raped by the cities and boroughs. He would like to see more restrictions on this plan before it goes further to insure that "we have a little control over what’s going on and that we have some ownership in the facilities." Holmgaard asked if a copy of the agreement will be shown to the municipalities? White said that it will be public record. Ackerman stated that the authority should have no restrictions on who the directors are. White explained that the City of Easton is the incorporating entity and by law, that is the way it must be done. Kline noted that the water authority is apolitical.
STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - Gale reported first on the site work. He told of a mystery at the front entrance since the new traffic light was moved, the internal controller for it has vanished. He will be in "hot pursuit" of this (which he just learned about today.) Some of the other items he discussed include the following:
- There were rumors today that the roofer may "walk." A new roofer will have to accept a warrantee on the existing roof.
- The generator is to arrive early next week.
- The Municipal Building roof still has leaks below the skylight and the flashing must be examined.
- L&I (Labor & Industry) made a preliminary assessment yesterday and found nothing major.
Nicholas asked about the leaking roof affecting the stuff put inside and Gale said he was the last person who would do that. Jim Wideman (Planning Commission) asked if the Township has a performance bond on the roofer and Gale said yes and that he is withholding $236K from the general contractor.
GOLLUB PARK - The motion to go ahead with the plan as shown was approved 5:0. Before the vote Hay discussed a map with pink and blue highlighting to show the location of the old trolley line and the proposed new walking path. Holmgaard asked if all the easements have been obtained and was told by Kline that the easements could not be obtained until the Township knows what it was going to do. Kline explained that plats must be prepared for recorded easements. Hay said that the proposed walking path should be kept natural and will have a minimum cost to the Township.
Wideman asked how Metropolitan Edison and Mr. Rossi will be able to get back to their property? He was told that the 30' right-of-way still exists. Nicholas asked if the Township will be maintaining the blue part over the trolley bed? Hay said that vehicles will only be using it 3 or 4 times a year. Rossi asked if the easement will be a general easement or if it is specific to Rossi and MetEd. He also asked if the easements are granted will the Township vacate the right-of-way and was told that the right-of-way will continue to exist. Kline stated that all the private owners have private rights over the paper street. He said that the easement with Mr. Arcury allows access to Township vehicles for emergency access only and it is not for the general public.
EAJSA/VACANT SEAT (2006-2009) - Ackerman noted that two candidates were interviewed for this vacancy. Nicholas made a motion to appoint Henning Holmgaard. It was passed in a 4:0 vote.
ORDINANCE NO. 294/PARKING ALONG PORTIONS OF OLD MILL ROAD - Kline stated that this ordinance was properly advertised and that it creates a no-parking area on Old Mill Road from Marigold to Knox Avenue in order to create a bike lane on the north side. It was adopted in a 5:0 vote.
2006 GENERAL FUND BUDGET/FORKS TOWNSHIP EMERGENCY SQUAD - Jeff Fehr gave a copy of the Forks Township Emergency Squad’s tax return to Ackerman. He also said that they prepared an updated copy of the squad’s income and expenses for the Board’s review. He said that squad is in the process of executing an affiliating arrangement with the Cetronia Amublance Corps and that Cetronia will be doing the billing operation as well as assisting with other operational duties. He said that Cetronia is a model ambulance corps and that they have some of the most advanced technology. He noted that the Township has collected EMS tax revenues and that there is $350K in an account for emergency services. He requested that 1/3 of it be given to the emergency squad (with another third to the police department and 1/3 to the fire department). He also said that they are not in favor of the fire department’s training facility. Hoff said he was not sure where this $350K is as it is part of the general fund and the squad has a line item of $20K in next year’s budget. Nicholas asked why he was not in favor of the FD training facility. Fehr responded that it’s not that they are not in favor of the facility but that they want the money dispersed equally. Their squad’s training is extensive and a lot of it is done at the hospital so they do not need a dedicated facility. Holmgaard said that he thought the Board should look over the statements and revisit the issue at the next meeting. Ackerman asked that he return at the next meeting since the Board may have questions of him.
2006 GENERAL FUND & UTILITY FUND BUDGET/TENTATIVE ADOPTION - Kichline noted that the budget’s development has been in process for the last few months. She said too that she gave the Board a copy of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley’s budget and that it shows their $6.5 million operating budget which is allocated to various agencies throughout the LV. Holmgaard noted that the CACLV salaries and wages are lumped together and that the questions were still not answered.
Kichline reminded the Board that if they table this it will require a special meeting at year end to adopt the 2006 budget since the 21 day advertising and display requirement would take them past their last scheduled meeting date of the year. Hoff said that it can be "tentatively" adopted and some "limited" changes can still be made. Nicholas noted that this means that her objection to the 4% raises for everyone can not be changed after the tentative adoption. Kichline said that she included performance reviews in the Board’s packets.
The Board voted to tentatively adopt the 2006 budget so that it can be properly advertised in a 4:1 vote with Nicholas voting "nay."
BOARD OPENINGS/AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE - Kichline announced that there are terms expiring on the Planning Commission, the Recreation Board, the Vacancy Board and that Howell’s election win leaves an unfilled term on the Zoning Hearing Board. After a resident asked why they are doing this so late, Kichline was given permission to advertise the vacancies.
An EXECUTIVE SESSION was held to discuss a personnel matter and a real estate matter. No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.
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