Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA
November 13, 2012
A joint workshop meeting was held on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 for the purpose of discussing joint services between Matamoras Borough and Westfall Township. The meeting was held at the Borough Annex on Avenue I and 1st Street in Matamoras, PA.
Present for Westfall Township were Chairman, Robert Ewbank; Vice-Chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisors Raymond Banach, Larry Flansburg and Robert Melvin; and Secretary, Lisa Green.
Present for Matamoras Borough were Council President, Dayne Losee, JoAnn Featherman, Peter Sigreto, Dave Clark, Joe Sain, Mayor Janet Clark, Solicitor Eric Hamill and Secretary, Nancy Buchanan.
Also present were Gary Babb, Chuck Pranski, Eric Stewart and approximately 12 members of the general public.
Mr. Losee opened the meeting at 7 PM with introductions.
Compost Facility: Mr. Losee asked what the board wanted to talk about. Supervisor Banach asked how things were working out at far as leaf pickup and questioned if there were any concerns out there between the boards and the public. Councilman Dave Clark explained that we stopped allowing commercial businesses to use the compost facility because we were running out of space. It is now only open to residents. There are keys at the Westfall Municipal Office and a key at the Borough Hall and residents who wish to use the facility stop and get the key and go. On Saturday Gary Babb is watching the gate and his salary is split between the two muni-cipalities. Mr. Clark said he believes it’s a fair thing to do and the right thing to do to share the costs and the work. What he would like to do is make it more accessible to residents to take stuff out of there, and figure out a way to harvest compost and make it available to residents. Mr. Clark continued by saying he believes that would extend the use of the compost facility. Chairman Ewbank said there are big piles of wood chips there and they are available to anyone who wants to take them. Supervisor Banach said there are only two municipalities in the county that can get grants and Matamoras is one of them. He would like to see us work together to obtain them. Supervisor Banach said maybe we could talk about obtaining grants to get a commercial transfer station. Discussion followed regarding the original agreement for the compost facility to see if it is allowable to sell material. Chairman Ewbank said the agreement addresses marketing but does not say whether or not it can be sold.
Chuck Pranski asked about setting aside space for the commercial users and charging them to dump yet make their area a restricted area so it can be monitored, and use that money to try and offset whatever equipment is needed. Mr. Losee said they used to charge for commercial users but have since stopped because they were running out of space. Further commenting that if the Township was interested in giving Matamoras half of what is sold they want half of what was sold in the past. Supervisor Banach said they haven’t sold any space. Chairman Ewbank questioned Mr. Clark as to whether they found in the agreement the prohibition of commercial users. Mr. Clark and Mrs. Featherman both remembered that to be true. Further discussion followed. Mr. Babb suggested if you’re going to start offering compost the pile should be separated out because right now people are dumping everything into one pile, however this would need to be monitored.
Leaf Collection: Chairman Ewbank said the Township is trying to figure out a way to eliminate burning in the section of Westfall Township that borders the Borough of Matamoras. This will basically be a triangle that will run along I 84 to the Westfall Firehouse then up Mountain Avenue extension to the mountain coming back along Mountain Avenue to 10th Street and back down to the Airport. Chairman Ewbank said in order to do something about the burning we need a way to collect the leaves. In order to do this Westfall would either need to borrow the leaf machine or help Matamoras pick up the leaves for a fee. He doesn’t know if the township can afford that. Mr. Clark said he is reluctant to lend out the leaf machine because it is a temperamental machine and he wants his guys to operate it. The proposal that he prepared averaged out to 2 1/2 men however if Westfall Township wanted to donate a man to reduce the cost he is in favor of that but it has to be a Council decision. Supervisor Melvin said that is only a 10 or $12 an hour reduction and that there are several issues to work out. Supervisor Banach said then you would have people from Pond Eddy paying to have leaves picked up in Bell Manor and he felt the residents would be upset with that, suggesting that we could possibly tax the residents whose leaves were being picked up such as we do for street lighting a fire hydrant. Mrs. Green said she did not believe you could tax for leaf collection. Mr. Losee said people were going to be upset when they are told they could not burn their leaves. Discussion followed. Chairman Ewbank said the ordinance would be to cover the congested area of Westfall Township. Mr. Losee said inter-municipality agreements will need to be drafted. Supervisor Banach suggested have being Mr. Clark meet with a few members of Westfall Township to iron this out. Supervisor Melvin said we have the issue with compensating for the leaves to be picked up as well as an enforcement issue and those are two big hurdles. Mr. Losee said Westfall would either be with Matamoras forever or they would need to buy their own leaf machine. Their machine cost $26,000. Discussion ended on this matter.
Police Department: Mr. Losee said the Matamoras budget is almost complete and they have given the Police Department what they asked for. Mrs. Featherman said the police gave them the 2012 budget originally which Matamoras agreed with and then they gave them the 2013 proposed budget, of which Matamoras did not approve. Supervisor Melvin confirmed that Matamoras was at the 2012 budget and that Westfall budget for 2012 was $386,655 and right now our budget is $375,182 which is approximately $10,000 less than 2012. Supervisor Banach said we need to cut the budget $10,000 in ordered to deliver what they need to for our residents. Vice-Chairman Fisher said at the Police Commission meeting they were told by their solicitor that if Matamoras and Westfall did not agree on the budget they would need to fall back to the prior year’s budget. Solicitor Hamill said that is his understanding of the agreement. Solicitor Hamill read language from the agreement that stated that the Police Commission will prepare a budget no later than October 1st and if approvals by the participating municipalities have not been consummated prior year’s budget shall be operative until approvals are given. So if there is no approval of the new budget than the prior budget would stand. Supervisor Banach said if Westfall reduced it by $10,000 then Matamoras would need to reduce theirs by a certain percentage. Pete Sigreto said he was shot down by the attorney for the commission last night saying he was wrong in reading the contract. The split is 53/47 where Westfall is paying more. Supervisor Flansburg said
it is about the agreement part of it stating that if Westfall needed to reduce their budget and Matamoras held the line then we would have to go to the prior year’s budget but if Matamoras agreed to reduce their budget then Westfall’s budget would stand. Mr. Losee said he is not going to vote to change his numbers, because Westfall Township is not going to dictate to him on how he votes. Mr. Sigreto said both municipalities need to do our budgets at the same time next year stating that Matamoras started early because they needed to go to court for a tax increase. Discussion followed regarding being maxed out on their budgets. Mr. Losee suggested discussing the percentage saying he believes it should be more like 60/40 or 55/45 range. Supervisor Melvin said the contract states it is based upon census. Solicitor Hamill said it would be apportioned on an equitable basis in accordance with determination by the bodies. It seems that there’s three different ways to read the agreement. Supervisor Banach said that we’re struggling to meet the budget as it is, and we have 17 or 18 years to pay for Katz and 10 years to pay for Dombrosky, further stating our backs are to the wall. Mr. Sigreto did not understand why the Police Department is down one man and not able to put him on after one officer left to become a state trooper. Discussion followed.
Beth Brelje asked if Westfall is allowed to offer less than the 2012 budget. Solicitor Hamill said that anything is allowed if everyone agrees on it.
Both Mr. Clark and Mrs. Featherman said they are with Mr. Losee and that they do not want to reduce the police budget. Mr. Clark said the whole Borough Council agreed on keeping with the 2012 police budget and that is their answer. Further discussion followed about the budget process.
Chuck Pranski said he is tired of being taxed and he does not want to see the taxes go up. The Supervisor’s explained that taxes are not going up, the total millage will remain at 31.2 mills however they do need to go to court to ask for a tax increase over the general millage rate which they’ve had to do nearly every year for the past several years. Mr. Pranski questioned why the Township is cutting the police budget yet hiring a full-time man for the highway department saying it doesn’t make any sense to him. Mr. Pranski said he’s afraid to walk down the street at night to go for a walk so he’s had to join a gym. Chairman Ewbank said we had three budget meetings that Mr. Pranski did not attend. Mr. Losee told Mr. Pranski to attend the Westfall Township Budget meeting next Monday. Further discussion followed regarding the total budget process. Supervisor Banach said that you have to have the money to afford the services and at the present time we don’t have it. Mr. Pranski questioned if Westfall Township would be breaching the agreement by cutting the budget $10,000 less. Chairman Ewbank said they have to go back into the budget and see if they can cut more money, but right now yes. Supervisor Banach said that we have asked for a County Sales Tax from Lisa Baker but the Commissioners don’t want to do it and yet Westfall would benefit a great deal because we have the majority of the businesses. Vice-Chairman Fisher said we cannot impose an impact fee commenting that there are many things that we’ve been trying to do and we are limited to what we are allowed, stating our hands are tied. Supervisor Banach said there’s been discussion in the past about abolishing either Westfall Township or Matamoras to become one entity and that it sounds crazy but there’s all sorts of money out there for shared services, commenting it may benefit the community to do something like that. Supervisor Banach said that both municipalities pay taxes for the police department and yet we have school police that we’re paying taxes for also. This is a duplication of services. Discussion followed. Mr. Losee said he does not want to belabor the point.
Beth Brelje questioned if Westfall does not meet the 2012 budget thereby breaking the contract if Matamoras would respond to them legally. Mr. Losee said he doubts it.
Emergency Management Office: Mr. Losee said we share the facility and Mr. Babb has a beautiful facility. Mr. Sigreto said he has a letter from Chairman Ewbank dated September 20, 2012 and he is very offended by it. Chairman Ewbank said he admits he sent the letter but doesn’t believe things were handled the correctly. Mr. Sigreto was very upset and asked if he should read the letter publically further stating that is why they sent a negative response. Discussion followed regarding the emergency management office, how it operated and what they were able to do during Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Sigreto spoke on the NIMS requirements. Chairman Ewbank said the classes are hard to come by, however he just signed up for a class for December 10-14. Mr. Sigreto said Chairman Ewbank needs to contact George Boedecker to get classes scheduled. Chairman Ewbank was going directly through Roger Maltby the County Emergency Management Coordinator. Mr. Losee commented on how well the men work together. Mr. Babb said ever since the emergency management office started and Westfall joined with them that the guys have always worked very well together. Supervisor Banach questioned if we can share people for the emergency management office. Mr. Babb and Chairman Ewbank both said they already do that. Mr. Sigreto asked Mr. Babb to explain the equipment in the emergency management office.
Beth Brelje said during hurricane Sandy she made numerous calls to Westfall Township and calls to Matamoras Borough stating it was easy to get through to Matamoras Borough however she could not get through to Westfall Township and questioned what the secret was. Chairman Ewbank said there was no secret you couldn’t call the municipal office because we had no power thereby not having a phone and offered to give out his cell phone number. Mr. Babb said if Chairman Ewbank and not be reached that he or Mr. Oliver have ways of getting in touch with him.
Other Shared Services: Supervisor Banach questioned if there were other areas that we are duplicating that we may be able to consolidate and save money. Supervisor Flansburg said for instance when Nelson could dump and not use their dump truck it saved Matamoras money. Chairman Ewbank said there was a study done in 2007 about merging the street departments together however it fell through the cracks, commenting that this is one area that we could discuss where we might possibly be able to save money.
Mr. Pranski questioned if we purchase fuel together stating we may be able to save money there for the road department and the fire department. Supervisor Banach stated he understands that could be a good idea negotiating for larger amount of fuel. Mr. Clark said there could be a lot of environmental concerns with that.
Other points were brought up regarding salt and health insurance. Mr. Clark said regarding the highway department there may be a lot of things we could share but we have to take baby steps and learn to get along.
Further stating that there are many of the same families in both Matamoras and Westfall Township and that you’re really talking about the same people. Mr. Losee said the guys work very well together from both municipalities but when you put the politician’s in the mix things get all screwed up.
Janet Clark said as Mayor of Matamoras it is time that the politicians got together to know what’s going on commenting that we need each other to get along.
Mr. Pranski offered a suggestion for the leaf pickup saying we should use and one man from the Borough with their leaf machine and a piece of equipment and one man from Westfall Township. Chairman Ewbank said that is what they are talking about.
Supervisor Banach said this is the first step and he thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and said that this is about money and it’s going to get harder and harder every year for everybody to afford what’s going on and if we don’t brainstorm and come up with ideas we’re going to be stuck. Further discussion followed about the leaf pickup. Mr. Losee said if Westfall Township wants to ban burning then ban burning but don’t put the onus on Matamoras Borough. Discussion followed.
A Matamoras resident asked to go back to the police department discussion commenting that he’s from New York City and had less locks there than he does in Matamoras Borough. He’s sleeping on the couch with a shotgun for fear that somebody’s going to break into his house and harm his family. This resident said the priority should be the police department and we shouldn’t be worried about a burning ban, leaf pickup or the highway department. He stated we have to meet the budget and we should come up with whatever amount of money they ask for. Mr. Pranski said there is a lot of things he does for the police department because he owns his own business in town and if not for him and a few others police department budget may be higher. Mr. Losee thanked the gentleman for their comments.
Beth Brelje questioned when Westfall Township would be ratifying their budget. Mrs. Green said they are introducing the budget Monday, November 19, 2012 and they will be adopting the budget on December 19, 2012.
Adjournment: Meeting adjourned at 8:32 pm.
Lisa A. Green, Secretary