Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA
January 7, 2013
The regular meeting of the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors was held Monday, January 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm. The meeting was held at the TownshipBuilding on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, WestfallTownship.
Those present were Chairman, Robert Ewbank; Vice-chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisors, Raymond Banach, Larry Flansburg and Robert Melvin; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy and Secretary, Lisa Green. Also present were Treasurer, Scott Myer; Zoning Officer, Michael Rendleman; Bill Schneider, Bill Koferl, Rob Llewellyn, Ed Isaacson, Beth Brelje, Chuck Pranski, and 14 members of the general public.
AGENDA: The agenda was amended to add Eastern Pike Regional Police Department under Old Business. Motion to add the transaction tax under new business made by Supervisor Flansburg. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carries with all in favor. Motion to adopt the agenda made by Vice-chairman Fischer. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Banach and carries with all in favor.
PUBLIC COMMENT: None
MINUTES: Minutes of the December 4, 2012 and December 19, 2012 meetings were approved on a motion by Supervisor Melvin. Motion is seconded by Vice-chairman Fischer. Supervisor Flansburg abstained. Motion carried with four in favor and one abstention. Mrs. Green asked Solicitor Bernathy if he reviewed the minutes of December 19, 2012 with regard to Smokers Choice. Solicitor Bernathy has not had the opportunity to review them yet. Motion to approve the December 19, 2012 minutes subject to review of Solicitor Bernathy made by Supervisor Banach. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin. Supervisor Flansburg abstained. Motion carries with four in favor and one abstention.
TREASURER’s REPORT: Scott Myer gave the treasurer’s report stating that 2012 was a solid year aside from the Dombrosky settlement. Income was $143,000 over budget partially from the PEMA grant but if you back that out we were still $80,000 over budget from an operational standpoint which is very good. We were $152,000 over budget and expenses which wasn’t good but if you backed out the $175,000 settlement we were actually $25,000 under budget. All things considered it was a solid year. Supervisor Banach moved to approve report. Motion seconded by Vice-Chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.
POLICE REPORT: Police Chief, Chad Stewart gave the report for December. There have been 170 calls for service and 5,543 miles patrolled for the month. Chief Stewart said also in the supervisors packets is the annual report for the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. Supervisor Banach moved to approve the police report. Motion seconded by Vice-Chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.
FIRE DEPARTMENT: Ed Isaacson gave the Mill Rift Fire Department report for December stating they had a Drill night on 12/5, the Monthly meeting on 12/11, a second Drill night on 12/19 and a medical emergency on 12/27. Total man hours for the month were 49.
Bill Koferl gave the Westfall Township Fire Department Report for December reporting 1 Landing zone, 1 Motor Vehicle Accidents, 2 Auto Alarm – Commercial false, 1 Standby, 2 Mutual Aid, 1 Controlled burn, 1 Hazmat, 1 Chimney fire, 1 Assist EMS with lifting, 1 Commercial structure fire, 1 Wires burning and 2 Residential Alarms. Total man-hours for the month 90.58. For EMS there were 40 calls in Westfall Township, 4 in Milford Township and 4 in Port Jervis. Total calls for EMS were 927 for the year. Mr. Koferl said this will be his last report as Rob Llewellyn will be the new chief. The board thanked Mr. Koferl. Motion to accept both reports made by Supervisor Flansburg. Motion seconded by Vice-chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.
HIGHWAY REPORT: Bill Schneider gave the report for December stating that they are continuing cleanup from Hurricane Sandy and have been doing shoulder and right-of-way clearing on Doug Miller Rd., Bluestone Boulevard, and Cummins Hill Road. There trying to widen the roads that have narrowed over the years. They had two storms in December that required plowing and product. Equipment was maintained. Mr. Schneider said he attended the road task force meeting and he took Supervisor Banach on a tour of the Township roads. Supervisor Melvin questioned whether or not the issue that came up with the Delaware Valley School District last month was resolved. Mr. Schneider said that has been taken care of. The school district will no longer be getting material from the Township. Supervisor Banach moved to accept the report. Motion is seconded by Vice-chairman Fischer and carried with all in favor. Supervisor Banach suggested to the board that each of them take the road tour with Mr. Schneider and then schedule a workshop to discuss the work that needs to be done. Supervisor Banach said over the years the street department has given up a lot of money to other areas in the Township and the crew is doing an outstanding job, however there are things that they will not be able to handle on their own and we need to get an action plan together. We may need to get the conservation district involved with things and have legal counsel. Supervisor Banach said it is eye-opening taking that tour and this is one legal requirement that we have is to maintain the roads which our citizens drive on. Supervisor Melvin suggested each supervisor take the tour with Mr. Schneider prior to the next monthly meeting at which time a workshop can be scheduled.
BUILDING/ZONING REPORT: Michael Rendleman gave the report for December stating there were three electrical permits, one building permit, one mechanical and one zoning permit issued. Total fees of $510.25 were collected. Vice-Chairman Fischer moved to accept the report. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carries with all in favor. Mrs. Green explained that Mr. Rendleman used to attend all planning board meetings, however since BIU was hired for zoning Mr. Rendleman has only been attending the supervisors meeting. Mrs. Tonkin who was Chairman of the planning commission recommended that Mr. Rendleman continue to attend the planning commission meetings. Mrs. Green said there are situations where Mr. Rendleman’s attendance would be beneficial. However he would not have to attend all meetings. Supervisor Banach asked Mr. Rendleman for his thoughts. Mr. Rendleman said he doesn’t have a problem with that, the only reason he wasn’t attending is because it was not part of the agreement that was made with BIU. Solicitor Bernathy said this should be handled on an as needed basis as there are situations in the beginning of the project where it is necessary for the zoning officer to be in attendance. Supervisor Flansburg will call Carl Fregoni the Regional Manager for BIU on Wednesday.
CORRESPONDENCE: On dais for review.
Act 47 Monthly Report: Solicitor Bernathy stated the time has come to request review of the townships status with the state. That could be done by motion to consider removal from the Act 47 Plan. Mrs. Green said that Matt Domines is no longer with DCED. Supervisor Flansburg moved to request the Township’s review of the Act 47 Plan. Motion is seconded by Vice-chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor. Solicitor Bernathy said otherwise the Township continues to operate within the confines of its budget and continues to meet its financial obligations. The Township continues to provide essential services. Supervisor Melvin moved to approve report. Motion is seconded by Vice-chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.
Review Zoning as per Signage: Supervisor Banach moved to schedule a workshop for January 23, 2013 at 7:00 PM. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carries with all in favor. Supervisor Banach asked Mr. Rendleman if he will be available for that meeting. Mr. Rendleman said he would be available.
Berkheimer Agreement – Amusement Tax: Solicitor Bernathy said he has reviewed the agreement and he has a comment letter dated December 20, 2012. The agreement can be signed subject to those four changes. Motion is made by Supervisor Flansburg to approve the agreement with the four changes suggested by Solicitor Bernathy. Motion is seconded by Vice-chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.
Eastern Pike Regional Police Department: Supervisor Melvin said he wanted to have the discussion because we did send a letter to the commission regarding the 12 month notice and they’ve had two other officers resign. They have to start discussing filling some of the vacancies. They are down three officers to date and are looking to replace two. The problem they are having is the letter is going to hinder an officer joining the Police Department and giving up a full-time job to come work at the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. Vice-chairman Fischer said we are down part-time officers as well and on behalf of the community at large he feels the letter should be rescinded for the welfare of the department, the officers, and their families. Supervisor Flansburg said he feels before that could happen, the board has to have an intelligent conversation on why the letter was written in the first place and get an answer to those problems. Supervisor Flansburg said he does not know if the conversation should happen now or at a workshop meeting in the future. Solicitor Bernathy cautioned the board that some of this is regarding personnel which should be accomplished in executive session.
Supervisor Banach said we have to get the counsel of Matamoras Borough here to sit down and go over some of the issues. Solicitor Bernathy said he has already made that request via correspondence on behalf of the Supervisors but has not heard back. Supervisor Banach said the financial end of it needs to be worked out before we continue to dig deeper and deeper. Solicitor Bernathy said that they have agreed to work on the budgetary issues together commenting that it should have never gotten this far. Vice-chairman Fischer said the letter has made its point and all parties are coming together to try to keep any problems from coming up. Supervisor Flansburg questioned if the letter is retracted that all of the issues will be met. Supervisor Melvin said he felt the issues were budgetary. Supervisor Flansburg said there are a few other issues out there that need to be discussed and that he will gladly say publicly that he would retract the letter if all of the issues will be met.
Supervisor Banach felt we should go ahead and set the workshop meeting to get things ironed out. Solicitor Bernathy said he felt the main issue has been resolved by agreeing to include the supervisors in the budget process, further stating for whatever reason that hasn’t happened this past year. Vice-chairman Fischer said personally he believes the sooner we resend the letter the better off we are going to be. Supervisor Banach said until we look at our finances and come to the realization of what we can spend we cannot move forward, further stating there have been deals made that the supervisors had no knowledge of and we are expected to pay for it. Solicitor Bernathy said these are issues involving personnel and potential litigation and must be handled in executive session. Discussion followed. Vice-chairman Fischer moved to rescind the letter that was sent to Matamoras Borough Council regarding the intent to withdraw. Motion was seconded by Supervisor Melvin. Chairman Ewbank said we need to have guarantees that the issues will be met. Solicitor Bernathy said they have to recognize that this Township is one of the funding entities. Solicitor Bernathy said we have received a letter from counsel for Matamoras Borough that he immediately responded to and we have not heard back from them yet. We have in good faith asked for them to meet with us. Supervisor Banach said he’s been on the board since 2008 and has continually asked if the Police Department was union or not and the answer he’s been given is that it’s complicated questioning what’s complicated. Further stating that we have employees here who have not been given raises in years and we have supervisors who don’t take their salary yet the Police Department is given guaranteed raises, take-home cars, and insurance for their families. Vice-chairmen Fischer said that’s a benefit package they receive because their pay is not up to par for their job duties and there has to be a carrot to entice officers to come and work for the department. Vice-chairman Fischer further stated a motion has been made and seconded. Supervisor Melvin said from a budgetary standpoint he feels it’s incumbent upon the commission to see that Westfall pays no more than what we’ve paid this year or last year except for possibly $1,000 and clampdown on the spending. Supervisor Banach said the contract says it is based on the census and Matamoras has more residents and he feels the split should be 50-50. Further questioning why Westfall Township is taking the brunt of all the money. Further stating he is not against the Police Department, he feels they are doing a good job but we need to know if we can afford the department both now and in the future. The meeting needs to be done to get the issues resolved or were just kicking the can down the road. Solicitor Bernathy said he will follow-up with Matamoras Borough Council solicitor. Chairman Ewbank questioned if the letter is rescinded and three months later we find that we can’t work things out what happens with the letter. Solicitor Bernathy said you will lose a year and further stated that he never believed it was Supervisors intention to dissolve the Police Department the intention was that it was the only vehicle to put them on notice that the supervisors wanted to be made part of the budget process and for whatever reason they weren’t involved in 2012. The Supervisors want to make sure that doesn’t happen in 2013 and beyond. And we need to discuss specifically the effect the Regionalization Agreement has on this as well as the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That is what Solicitor Bernathy’s letter addressed and the sooner that meeting happens the better. Further stating that if they rescind the letter they have to go another year. Chairman Ewbank said our obligation is to the taxpayers of Westfall Township not to the Police Commission the Department or Matamoras Borough. Vice-chairman Fischer said he wants to remind the board that the Westfall Township share is only $15,000 more than the Westfall Township Police Department budget was in 2007 further stating that this only an approximate $2000 more per year.
Beth Brelje questioned Supervisor Flansburg on what his thoughts are. Supervisor Flansburg said he believed this has to be discussed in executive session. Solicitor Bernathy said he is advising that because this has to do with personnel, which is protected and privileged as well as potential litigation. Ms. Brelje said it sounds like a budgetary issue. Solicitor Bernathy said he keeps referring to two separate agreements which are the Regionalization Agreement in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and there may be breaches to those agreements and it is for that very reason why this needs to be discussed in executive session.
Ed Isaacson said he believes the letter is why we are losing officers because they are not sure about their futures and as far as the population goes Mr. Isaacson questioned how many hours per week the big box stores use of the police department. Further stating he knows officers that left the department because of the letter.
Chuck Pranski said this is going to become like Milford Borough which is known as the training ground for the Police Officers. Stating they will not stay with the department.
Supervisor Flansburg said if Vice-chairman Fischer can guarantee that his issues will be met he would rescind the letter. Vice-Chairman Fischer said he cannot guarantee that because other people are involved and he doesn’t know what the issues are. Further stating he does not have that kind of power. The only guarantee he could make is that they will address the issues. Supervisor Flansburg said he would like to go on record as stating he does not have a problem with the Police Department or the personnel. Chairman Ewbank agreed with Supervisor Flansburg’s comment. Supervisor Banach said eventually our employees with the Township are going to retire and we need to buy out their sick days and we need to figure out now how to do that by making cuts, making adjustments and running everything as a business, a money making business otherwise we are going to be at this point every year. Supervisor Flansburg said Matamoras Borough is at their max and they have no more money. They need to find ways to cut their budget as well.
Mr. Pranski suggested that the remaining three supervisors attend the police commission meetings, noting that Chairman Ewbank was at the last meeting. Supervisor Flansburg said that he and Supervisor Banach were at the meeting prior to that and at the last joint meeting between Westfall and Matamoras that we initiated we brought coffee and doughnuts and they publicly humiliated our Chairman at that meeting. Mr. Pranski questioned how things are not getting communicated or lost. Stating an accusation was made that things were being done behind our backs. Solicitor Bernathy stated that is a matter of compliance with an agreement. Stating this Township is a funding entity for that department very specifically pursuant to an agreement that may have been breached and that is something that needs to be discussed in executive session. Further stating we should move on. Mr. Pranski said everything needs to be discussed in executive session. Questioning the matter with Mr. Dombrosky saying the word around town is the supervisors of this Township made an offer to him that the insurance company advised against. And that there was no written agreement that he would get his job back. Solicitor Bernathy said we are not here to speak on that and that the matter has been settled. Solicitor Bernathy said that negotiations that led up to the settlement are not part of public record.
Beth Brelje said a few meetings ago when discussing the Dombrosky issue she was told the insurance was the subject of potential litigation, commenting that in fact it is not settled. Solicitor Bernathy said the Dombrosky lawsuit which is represented in court has been settled, however there may be further litigation. Ms. Brelje questioned if the Supervisors could discuss those issues about the Police Commission which are not matters of executive session. Solicitor Bernathy said yes they could discuss what issues are not executive session, and further stating that the Dombrosky litigation has been settled, the settlement agreement is a matter of public record. As a result of that settlement there may be further litigation that will be instituted by the Township against possibly the insurance carrier and those attorneys that represented the Township and that cannot be discussed. Ms. Brelje questioned Supervisor Flansburg on what those issues are that he can’t discuss. Supervisor Flansburg said they are matters of executive session. Discussion followed. Supervisor Flansburg then addressed Mr. Pranski stating it was he and Chairman Ewbank that were at the settlement hearing and they shared information with the board as they were supposed to do stating any information Mr. Pranski has is frankly bull and that he has no idea where he’s getting his information. Solicitor Bernathy said he is so factually incorrect and he has no idea where he’s getting his information. Mr. Pranski questioned if there was a written agreement that Mr. Dombrosky would get his job back. Chairman Ewbank said no. Solicitor Bernathy said that was a matter that was accomplished way back when in executive session. Mr. Pranski questioned why the township hasn’t fought this and left the meeting irate. Ms. Brelje said the supervisors have the option of discussing things outside of executive session. Solicitor Bernathy said he is advising against that because they would be circumventing the law.
Chairman Ewbank said it is time to move on. There is a motion on the floor to rescind the letter and Chairman Ewbank asked for a vote. Vice-chairman Fischer and Supervisor Melvin vote in favor. Supervisor Banach, Supervisor Flansburg, and Chairman Ewbank vote nay. Motion to rescind the letter does not carry. Chairman Ewbank said we need to move forward with the meeting that Solicitor Bernathy is talking about and then we can move on. Supervisor Banach said everyone on the board supports the Police Department but it comes down to money and it’s going to take the Police Commission, Matamoras Borough and the Township to get a plan for the future. Stating this is nothing personal and that everyone on the Police Department is doing a good job. Chairman Ewbank said everyone is construing that the supervisors want to get rid of the Police Department and that is not true. Discussion followed. Solicitor Bernathy said they’ve already submitted a letter in December requesting a meeting and we haven’t heard back. Further stating that nobody wants this, they want to move past this, however there have been issues regarding compliance with agreements that are in writing that have to do with budgetary issues and this Township participates in funding that department. For the collective bargaining agreement to give raises of 3% which has not been run by the funding entity, which are probably warranted, but that wasn’t run by the Township. Solicitor Bernathy went on to say there are other people in the Township including himself who have not received raises. Chief Stewart said if there are two people on the board part of the commission that were a part of that. Solicitor Bernathy said the decision needs to be made by the board in whole not by two members only and the board was not a part of this agreement. Chief Stewart questioned what would happen if Matamoras doesn’t want to meet. Solicitor Bernathy said he is going to contact them again.
Chief Stewart said it seems to be a fight between Matamoras and Westfall. Solicitor Bernathy said he is absolutely correct. Ed Isaacson questioned what would happen if Matamoras won’t meet. Supervisor Flansburg suggested going to Matamoras to discuss that. The board decided to move on.
Ordinance # 159: Solicitor Bernathy said the record should reflect there was no comment at the public hearing. Supervisor Banach moved to adopt Ordinance # 159. Motion is seconded by Vice-chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.
Atlantic Ambulance – Starr Grolimund: Ms. Grolimund said she was here over a year ago requesting that Atlantic Ambulance be dispatched as closest unit. She is here today to ask that Atlantic Ambulance be dispatched as primary ALS service for all of Westfall Township. If they are not available it would then go to the closest unit. Supervisor Melvin questioned if this is just for ALS not BLS. Ms. Grolimund said that is correct. Supervisor Flansburg asked for input from the fire chiefs. Mr. Koferl said Care One has been in and out of the service area and the last two years they were nonexistent. Atlantic Ambulance is here all the time. Mr. Koferl said if Care One is not in Port Jervis when they are dispatched and they are in Greenville 5 minutes goes by before the second ambulance will be called out. Further stating that for a heart attack patient five-minutes is too long. Supervisor Banach questioned if they go to every call. They will only go to ALS calls. Supervisor Flansburg questioned what needed to be done. Ms. Grolimund said the supervisors need to send a letter to the communication center requesting that Atlantic Ambulance be the primary responder for Westfall Township for ALS service. Supervisor Flansburg moved to send the letter. Motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carried with all in favor. Solicitor Bernathy asked the chief if he is recommending this and whether this will affect a positive response time. Mr. Koferl said yes this is on his recommendation.
PA Route 6 Alliance: Mrs. Green said a letter was received today from the PA Route 6 Alliance who wishes to designate Route 6 as a Scenic Byway. This involves 110 municipalities and 14 counties. However this would involve a 660 foot right-of-way in which no new signs or billboards would be able to be erected. Supervisor Banach said it’s just another level of government asking us to do something where we will not be compensated.
Chairman Ewbank said this would go against the help we are trying to give to Home Depot. The supervisors decided not to take action.
Transaction Tax: Solicitor Bernathy said a workshop has been scheduled for January 23, 2013 and this item should be added to the agenda. Motion to add this to the agenda made by Supervisor Melvin. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Flansburg and carries with all in favor.
SUBDIVISION REVIEW AND ACTION: None
ADJOURNMENT: Meeting was adjourned at 8:32 PM on a motion by supervisor Flansburg. Motion seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carried with all in favor.
Lisa A. Green, Secretary