The Westfall Township Planning Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 26, 2014 has been cancelled due to lack of an agenda.
Jodi Hulse, Secretary
The Westfall Township Planning Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, August 26, 2014 has been cancelled due to lack of an agenda.
Jodi Hulse, Secretary
Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA June 23, 2014
The Westfall Township Board of Supervisors held a Special Meeting on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm (according to meeting room clock). The meeting was held at the Westfall Township Municipal Building on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane.
Those present were Supervisors, Lester J. Buchanan, Jerry Dotey and Raymond Banach (attended meeting by speaker phone); Solicitor Robert Bernathy; Secretary, Jodi Hulse; Bill Koferl, Beth Brelje, and a few members of the general public.
Chairman Larry Flansburg and Vice Chairman Robert Melvin were not present.
Supervisor Dotey called the meeting to order at 3:00 pm.
The Pledge of Allegiance took place. Supervisor Dotey turned the meeting over to Solicitor Bernathy.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA: A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the agenda. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carries with all in favor.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Bill Koferl questioned the meetings being scheduled during the day. Solicitor Bernathy stated the law provides that the Board can have meetings on times that are not regularly advertised at the beginning of the year. The Board can have Special Meetings and this is such a meeting. Mr. Koferl questioned the last workshop meeting taking place at 6:00 pm. Solicitor Bernathy said it can be done by law. Supervisor Buchanan said we stopped having the workshop some years back. They were mainly to approve subdivisions and since we have not had many we cancelled the regularly scheduled workshop meetings. If something comes up we schedule one. Beth Brelje asked if there was a workshop that night. Supervisor Dotey said there is no workshop scheduled.
NEW BUSINESS: NONE
ADJOURNMENT: A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to adjourn the meeting at 3:04. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carried with all in favor.
The regular meeting of the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors was held Monday, June 2, 2014. The meeting started at 7:00 pm and was held at the Township Building on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, Westfall Township.
Those present were Chairman, Larry Flansburg; Vice Chairman, Robert Melvin; Supervisors; Raymond Banach, Lester Buchanan, Jerry Dotey; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy, and Secretary, Jodi Hulse. Also present were Zoning Officer, Doug Olmstead; Treasurer, Scott Myer; Road Master, Bill Schneider; Chief, Rob Llewellyn; Chief Chad Stewart; Beth Brelje, Chuck Pranski, Lisa Mickles, Jim Trotta, Linda Trotta, Pete Sigreto, Diane Heater, Frank Heater, Kevin Rose, Twila Decker, Lynn Moore, Christina Robin, Zachary O’Leary, Lynn Homer, Holly Stohl, John Dalton, Stacy Rutherford, Mr. Lewis, Ed Isaacson, Bob Bostinto, Shane Kane, Anne Marie Catalano, Corinne Jacob, Courtney Dildger, Robert Brown, Woody Adams, Vanessa Ray, Alyse Vitchers, Jill Hamilton, Mike Barth, Rosalyn Hobatch and approximately 50 members of the general public.
Chairman Flansburg stated an Executive Session was held on Monday, May 5, 2014 and Monday, June 2, 2014 for the purposes of personnel, litigation and potential litigation.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA: Chairman Flansburg said there will be a change in public comment. The public comment will be for items on the agenda first and a public comment session will be open for items not on the agenda at the end of the meeting. Chairman Flansburg said the minutes of the May 28, 2014 Workshop will be added to the agenda. Also under New Business a letter to the Police Commission will be added as number 5. Supervisor Banach said we will table number 6 under Old Business. A motion was made by Supervisor Banach to approve the revised agenda. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Ms. Brelje asked, referencing the previously stated Executive Session, the purpose for the potential litigation. Solicitor Bernathy said the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. She then asked the purpose of the actual litigation case. Solicitor Bernathy said the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department.
Christina Robin asked what the Executive Session was for which the Supervisors held. Solicitor Bernathy said potential litigation. Ms. Robin then asked if there was a vote. Solicitor Bernathy said there was nothing decided and if a decision was made, by law, it needs to be done in open session. Ms. Robin then asked what it was about. Solicitor Bernathy said we cannot discuss it. The law provides that an Executive Session can be held and have discussion regarding certain issues one of which is potential litigation. He said he has the law book if anyone would like to look at it.
Ms. Brelje stated she does not understand the public comment situation. Solicitor Bernathy said we are adding the opportunity for people to speak at the beginning of the meeting on agenda items and at the end of the meeting on items which may have been brought up during the meeting. He said we are expanding public comment.
Ms. Robin said she is opposed to the Supervisors writing the letter to the Police Department. She questioned if this is the time to bring it up or if she should wait until the end. Chairman Flansburg said it will be at the end.
Peter Sigreto asked if the letter was received from Matamoras regarding the appointment of two Supervisors for the committee. Solicitor Bernathy said it is the first item under Old Business on the agenda.
Chuck Pranski said he would like to see Supervisor Buchanan as one of the committee members. A few members of the general public spoke out and said they agree. Solicitor Bernathy suggested anyone that has a recommendation to come forth and voice their opinion since this is an item which is on the agenda. He said the Supervisors will ultimately make the decision. Diane Heater said her recommendation is Supervisor Buchanan and Vice Chairman Melvin. Kevin Rose said his recommendation is Supervisor Dotey and Supervisor Buchanan. Jim Trotta recommended Supervisor Dotey. Twila Decker recommended Supervisor Dotey for the committee. Lynn Moore recommended Supervisor Buchanan.
Ms. Robin said she does not want to be mean but in light of the potential litigation should we change the members of the Police Commission. Solicitor Bernathy said it will be taken under consideration. She said she does not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. She addressed the Supervisors and said she loves and respects them all.
Frank Heater suggested the Supervisors announce who cannot be part of the committee. Chairman Flansburg stated it is himself and Vice Chairman Melvin. Mr. Rose said in Matamoras it is himself and Mayor Clark. Mr. Rose said that Matamoras has chosen not to have a member of the Police Commission on the committee.
Ms. Brelje said she would like to have some assurance that the meeting which is being planned will be a public meeting. Chairman Flansburg directed the question to Solicitor Bernathy. Solicitor Bernathy said it will be a committee meeting and the committee will make recommendations to the Matamoras Council and the Westfall Supervisors. He said the parameters have not been discussed yet since the subject is one that is on the agenda. He stated we wrote to Matamoras and they were kind enough to write back and they made a suggestion to form the committee. Ms. Brelje said she finds it odd since the public is very interested in the deliberations.
Zach O’Leary said he understands that on the Police Commission there are two from Westfall and two from Matamoras and a community member. He asked if the Supervisors would consider a fifth member on the committee which would be a community member. Chairman Flansburg said he thinks it would have to be run by both boards first and with the time frames being so small he is not sure if it could be done. Solicitor Bernathy said again this will be coming up since it is on the agenda. Chairman Flansburg asked if he should move it up in front of the minutes. Solicitor Bernathy said it is an option since most of the people present seem to be here to discuss the police department. Chairman Flansburg asked the Board their opinion. Supervisor Banach asked if everyone was going to leave if we move it up. He said is actually very nice to see so many people in attendance. Many members of the general public spoke out and said they are not leaving. A couple people said we are not leaving after last time. Solicitor Bernathy said that just so people are clear that last time what happened was absolutely legal and pursuant to the laws they are required to follow. He said we came out of executive session and had a vote. The meeting was not adjourned. We adjourned the regular meeting to go into executive session which we are absolutely entitled to pursuant to Pennsylvania Law. He said there were some newspaper accountings which said that may not have been legal. He takes exception to those newspaper accountings and we did not in any way violate the law. Ms. Robin asked about what is morally right. Solicitor Bernathy said we could have the morality police here but he is concerned about following the law and not violating the law. Ms. Robin said to Solicitor Bernathy that he represents the Supervisors and not the residents. Solicitor Bernathy said this is public comment and not a question and answer. Ms. Robin asked the Supervisors how they felt about voting after coming out of an executive session. Chairman Flansburg said he was surprised everyone left. The audience groaned. Chairman Flansburg said public comment is for comments about the agenda. Mr. Pranski asked if the meeting will be required to be an advertised public meeting and if not it will be in violation of the Sunshine Law. Chairman Flansburg said with two representatives from each board it does not constitute a quorum. Solicitor Bernathy said committees can be appointed from two municipalities. He said we are doing this to bypass what might be political, personal or otherwise and feels it is a good suggestion by Matamoras.
Mr. Trotta asked why something as important as police protection is not on the ballot and why the decision is up to the Supervisors. There was applause from the crowd. He said the Supervisors are supposed to serve the residents and he does not know what is going on. He questioned if there is a vendetta going on. We are the people and we elect the Supervisors to do what is right for the Township, the Borough of Matamoras, and police protection is very important. Chairman Flansburg asked Mr. Trotta if he is saying that there will be no police department. Mr. Trotta said there are a lot of rumors going around. He said if anyone is going to make a decision to discontinue police protection, it should be the people. Chairman Flansburg said it has never been discussed by this Board to not have police protection. He said there are a lot of people here tonight and he asked why they were here. Solicitor Bernathy asked Mr. Trotta to please direct his comments to the Board. He said he thinks we all know why most of the people are here.
Lynn Homer asked if the Supervisors have reached out to the School Board Administration with any direction they think they are going. Solicitor Bernathy asked on what matter. Ms. Homer said police protection. Solicitor Bernathy said we have not reached out at this time. We are not even sure of the recommendations, if any, the committee will make.
Holly Stohl asked a question regarding the 3% employee pay raise. She asked the employees who will be receiving the raise. Chairman Flansburg said we have three road department employees and a secretary. Mr. Dalton asked Ms. Stohl to repeat herself so he could read her lips. She repeated her question.
Stacy Rutherford from Westfall Township said at the beginning of the year her freshman daughter got off the bus at the bus stop and one of her friend texted her that there was a man at the bus stop taking pictures of her. They filed a police report. It turns out that same person was at every bus stop in Matamoras. She said the cop was gracious enough every day for two or three weeks to check the bus stops. Chairman Flansburg said again it is not this board’s position to eliminate police protection. Ms. Rutherford said that morality is a big deal here. It is our kids, our lively hood and where we live. This should all be taken into consideration.
Marty Lewis from Westfall Township questioned the Board if they put in an authorization to disband the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. Chairman Flansburg said first of all we sometimes have a problem communicating with Matamoras. He said we believe (laughter in the crowd) or the majority of us believe the contract needs to be rewritten and it was not meant to be a seven year contract. Solicitor Bernathy asked the crowd to please be respectful. Mr. Pranski spoke out and said it is the Supervisors responsibility to respond. Chairman Flansburg said to Mr. Pranski that he is out of line. Mr. Pranski said so is Solicitor Bernathy. Mr. Pranski it keeps happening time after time. Mr. Pranski said the Supervisors need to start addressing the people not the Solicitor every time. There was applause from the crowd. Solicitor Bernathy said he is just asking for civility. Mr. Pranski said Solicitor Bernathy speaks more in the meetings that all of the Supervisors combined.
Chairman Flansburg said he was not done with Mr. Lewis. Mr. Lewis asked his question again. Supervisor Banach responded. He said in 2008 we were involved in a number of lawsuits and he does not know if anyone pays attention to the papers, gets the facts or knows the money. We owe millions of dollars to Mr. Katz, we owe money to Mr. Dombroski, and we are involved in another lawsuit with another individual. He said all of those come against our taxes. We do not want to raise taxes or add an earned income tax. The school keeps adding school tax. Eventually the taxes will be unaffordable. Supervisor Banach said our goal since 2008 is to look at the contract and make it feasible and equal for Matamoras and Westfall Township and more business friendly. He said the Township pays for services and we provide services. We collect the money from the residents and we spend that money. We have to spend that money wisely. We are on a fixed income and every lawsuit takes away from our basket of money to provide services. He said the contract needs to be looked at so it can be more in line with the business of the Township and that is what we want to discuss with Matamoras. The only way we could get them to the table was to say we are going to pull out unless they start talking to us. He said last year they did the same thing then they said they would talk to us and then they did not want to talk to us. We will have the two on two to hash things out and get a business plan to save both communities money. It may be the same money but we are hoping for less so that we can pay for other things. He said Westfall residents pay for State Police, the Sherriff, Eastern Regional Police and School Police. The EPRPD spends a lot of time down at the school. He said we should question the school as to why they do not have the officer at the school who is Act 120 certified make the arrests themselves and let our police do our thing. If they need back up then they are available. Supervisor Banach said Westfall Township is paying for the majority of everything for everybody around us. We are trying to get it so the taxes stay the same and the residents get good service on all things. Roads, the township and police. No one is trying to do anything funny here. We are trying to get it so that we can afford everything without the taxes being raised. If we did not have all of these lawsuits we should be able to manage without ever raising taxes.
Marty Lewis asked Supervisor Banach if it was discussed to pull out of the Police Department. Supervisor Banach said that is our only option to get Matamoras to the table. They are going to come to the table now and we will have discussions. He said the contract is one sided and is one sided to whoever wrote it. The few members of the crowd said that Attorney Bernathy wrote it. Supervisor Banach said we look at any contracts that come in and we try to make it better for Westfall Township. He said if we have a contract with someone and we do not give them the money they want (and we have no say in how they spend it which is how the other Supervisors set it up) which is fine but they are going to sue us if we do not give them more money. That is ridiculous. He said that is like buying a car and at the end of the year being charged double and if it is not paid the car will be taken away. We need to change the verbiage in the contract and that is what this committee is about. It is to sit and talk about it so it is perfect for both Matamoras and Westfall. There are all these rumors and news articles that are getting everyone upset. There are news articles that refer to the effect on the children. Supervisor Banach said it has no effect on the children. There was disagreement from the crowd. Supervisor Banach then said let me clarify. He said all of the people in this room should be writing letters to the school to find out why the officers do not have police powers. Mr. Lewis said they may be 120 certified which is a police officer course but they cannot make a physical arrest. Supervisor Banach said they can and the president judge has to give them the power and that is all. Chairman Flansburg said he does not know how a contract that was written seven or eight years ago be valid taking into account all of the things that have changed and all of the things that they did not for see when they were writing it in the first place. A contract is not forever and it needs to be upgraded from time to time. He said that is our position.
Ms. Robin said three percent is not a lot to pay because Westfall Township has one thousand more residents and one thousand more acres. She asked why they would look at our public safety to make cuts first. She said why not look at the burning bans and leaf collection truck and other frivolous things. Supervisor Flansburg said those are things that come in the normal business. Ms. Robin said antagonizing them and making them come to the table only got us into another lawsuit which we will be paying for again. Chairman Flansburg questioned the lawsuit Ms. Robin is referring. Ms. Robin said by accusing the Police of bad behavior. Your threats against the Police Department brought us to the next litigation which is about to come. She said threatening them is not a good way to communicate. Chairman Flansburg said Ms. Robin does not have her facts right. Ms. Robin said there were harsh words about Eric Stewart in the paper. Chairman Flansburg said he does not print the paper. Ms. Robin said to Chairman Flansburg that he does not but he speaks to them and now he has been quoted and now we will get sued over that. Chairman Flansburg said to tell it to her (meaning Ms. Brelje). Ms. Robin said that is her job and she only writes what she hears. Chairman Flansburg said he is not sure what quote she is talking about. Ms. Robin referred to a personal vendetta. Chairman Flansburg said lets clear the vendetta thing. He asked if he has a vendetta against Eric Stewart or does he have one against me. He said he is not sure if he has one against Mr. Stewart but if he does then it would be because Mr. Stewart did something to him. Chairman Flansburg said let’s talk about what it is that Mr. Stewart did to him. Ms. Robin said the quote said that Mr. Stewart does not respect Chairman Flansburg. Chairman Flansburg said he does not think he does. Bobbi Height yelled out from the audience “who filed charges against who”. Chairman Flansburg said he did not file charges against anyone. Ms. Height asked if Chairman Flansburg if we took a dumb pill this morning. Solicitor Bernathy asked Ms. Height to be respectful. Mr. Pranski spoke out and said that Chairman Flansburg is a big boy and he can speak for himself if he wants respect. Ms. Robin said that she does not think the split is not a lot to pay for the perks we receive from having the Police Department. Solicitor Bernathy said the contract required the fifty percent split because of its terms. It is driven by population. It is not based on the area to be covered or road mileage. He said the last census proves that the population is almost equal. Supervisor Banach said the entire thing is about the contract. It will get ironed out. Ms. Robin said we would like to have the Police Department. Supervisor Banach said that everybody does. He said there have been some misquotes from our papers and that not one person on this Board has ever bad mouthed any Police Officer here. He said the minutes reflect that this Board and the previous Board have praised the Police. It has been contractual since 2008 because of money and it has been about money. The lawsuits have cost us money and we cannot get out of them. Chairman Flansburg saved the Township quite a bit of money on the last one and now we have another one pending. He said it is not that we are out here trying to take away the Police Department. We want to be able to negotiate. We are seeking better terms for our citizens. He said he wants it to be fair for both Matamoras and Westfall. Ms. Robin said that we want to keep the Police Department. Supervisor Banach said that we do also. Chairman Flansburg asked Ms. Robin if she understands. Ms. Robin said she does now and she trusts that they are telling her the truth. Supervisor Banach said we have been saying this all along but there are a lot of people out there starting rumors.
Chairman Flansburg addressed Mrs. Height. He said he has never filed charges against anyone and she can check it out herself. Mrs. Height said you did accuse. She said Ms. Brelje did her job and it was all in the newspapers. Chairman Flansburg said Mrs. Height said he filed charges which he said he did not.
Mr. O’Leary had another comment. He said he is on the School Board and he is the Chairman of the Health, Safety and Welfare Committee. He said he is also on the Committee for Children with special needs. Mr. O’Leary said the School Board asked him to come to the meeting to find out what is going on. He said he does not know the Supervisors too well. He apologizes and he feels that the School Board should work with the Townships. He said he brought one visual with him which he wants to show real quick. He said he is the only independent that ever got elected. He brought in his two young daughters. He said he is not a good politician. He said this is my agenda. He said he welds the pipeline for a living, a Daisy Scout Leader and also a father to these two kids. He said he has a lot of little girls that live in this community that do not have fathers so the mothers bring them to him because he is a positive role model. He said at fifty one years old he decided to become a politician for kids. He is concerned and his fellow School Board Members are concerned on what the Supervisors are going to do. He said Supervisor Banach brings up an awful a lot of good points. He said he suggested a fifth person on the committee because there is a lot of animosity going around. He would more than willing to be the fifth member. Many people would say he is a fair guy. He referred to the ages of the children at Sandy Hook who lost their lives and he said they were all Daisy Scouts. He said when there is fighting back and forth it makes people like himself nervous. The kids are his only agenda. Chairman Flansburg said his point is taken. There was applause by the audience. Supervisor Dotey said he would like to respond. He said Mr. O’Leary waited until his fifties to get into this and he waited until his seventies. He said the reason he was most interested in getting involved was to resolve the problem that was going on between Westfall Township and Matamoras and about the Police Department. He said he has nothing but respect for the Police Department. They do a good job and there is no reason to get rid of the Police Department. There is a reason to clean up some of the details in the agreement. Supervisor Dotey said he is real happy about the committee because it opens the door to resolve it. He said that is what we need to do. Mr. O’Leary said he thinks Westfall and Matamoras could have a good relationship. The only problem is that some of the feuds go back forty years. He said if they need another person on the committee he is available and he is also available if we need someone to talk to on the School Board.
Edward Isaacson addressed the Board. He asked who’s decision it was to settle the Dombrosky lawsuit. He said was a bad cop and we should have never given him a penny. He said from what he understands the lawyers told the Supervisors not to settle it and the Supervisors took it upon themselves to settle. Supervisor Banach said Mr. Isaacson has misinformation. Solicitor Bernathy said what Mr. Isaacson is saying is not accurate. Mr. Isaacson said Dombrosky had complaints in New Jersey and complaints in Port Jervis and then we give him one million dollars.
Linda Trotta from Westfall Township addressed the Board. She asked what kind of money are we talking about, 47% versus 53%. What will the tax payers save, she questioned. Vice Chairman Melvin said $26,000. Supervisor Banach said there are also other parts of the contract which need to be cleaned up. She said she was present at the workshop meeting and it was stated that the Supervisors did not have a copy of the financial report. She said Kevin Salvati said the report was submitted.
Mr. Pranski said the Supervisors are saying this is based on census primarily. Chairman Flansburg said we are not saying that the contract says it. Mr. Pranski said the census at this point reflects a 150 person difference. He said he is a Westfall resident and lives three lots into the Township and on the census he is considered a Matamoras resident. His concern is how many Westfall residents are calculated as Matamoras residents and how many Westfall counted in Milford Township. He said the Supervisors are also getting ready to approve new development to increase our residents. Chairman Flansburg said that for himself personally the 53/47 split does not bother him and he thinks there are things in the contract that need to be cleaned up. Mr. Pranski said we keep hearing about the census. Chairman Flansburg said that the part Mr. Pranski is not seeing is that it keeps getting thrown at us that we need to follow the contract. The contract says the census. His question is what other parts of the contract do not have to be followed if we do not have to follow the part about the census. Chairman Flansburg said he wants to clean it up and make it better. Mr. Pranski referred to the 53/47 split. Chairman Flansburg said there is no documentation to state that was ever voted on legally. We have asked about it and we wanted to see it and it has not been provided to us. He said we do not even know that was an agreement. The original contract does not reflect a 53/47 split. It reflects a 50/50 split otherwise judged by census. Mr. Pranski asked if there were any other stipulations. Chairman Flansburg said there are no other stipulations. Chad Stewart said it also says it will be reevaluated every year. Supervisor Banach said it has not been. Chief Stewart said there are minutes from the Police Commission that is it changed to 53/47. Chairman Flansburg said it does not coordinate with our records and it never came back here to be announced to us. Chief Stewart said in the Commission minutes it states it was to be taken to the Township and the Borough. Chairman Flansburg said he is not looking for an argument. Chief Stewart said he wants everyone to know the truth. He said if the Township representatives did not bring the information back here then how is it anyone else’s fault? Chairman Flansburg said that now it is being reevaluated again this year and the population is different. Supervisor Banach said once we meet with the Matamoras people and have our discussions things will be better but we have to have a chance to talk to them.
Mr. Bostinto said with regards to the contract, we are talking about $26,000 which is roughly $2,000 per month difference. He asked Chairman Flansburg what the other things are in the contract which need to be changed. Chairman Flansburg said he cannot talk about it due to possible litigation. Mr. Bostinto asked if there are loop holes in the contract that create exposure. Solicitor Bernathy said that is not what he said. Mr. Bostinto asked for clarification. He asked that since there is potential litigation they want to renegotiate the contract. He said he is not understanding. Chairman Flansburg said the potential litigation popped up this week and we have always wanted to renegotiate the contract. Solicitor Bernathy said there are letters which go back years requesting renegotiation of the contract. He said momentarily you are going to hear a motion to appoint the two committee members to meet with Matamoras to start the renegotiation process. He said not to dissolve the department but to renegotiate. He said no one has ever said that we wanted to dissolve the Police Department. The contract is a result of a number of contracts that were written for the regionalization of a number of departments across northeastern Pennsylvania. There was a consultant that was hired who consulted with both Matamoras and Westfall to get to the terms of the contract. He said he wrote the contract but he is not recreating the wheel. Most of the language is approved by the State, PSATS, and is used in multiple jurisdictions. Solicitor Bernathy said some of the language needs to be addressed and revisited. We are asking Matamoras to do that with us.
Shane Kane from Matamoras addressed the Board. He asked the Board if this is strictly renegotiation and that there will be no possible dissolution of the Police Department. Chairman Flansburg said he will go out on a limb and he has his word on that. He said if the contract gets re-written there will be no interruption of police service. Mr. Kane asked that regardless of the Township’s wishes if the contract is kept the way it is then the Supervisors will move forward with the dissolution. Chairman Flansburg said that he would have to hope they will see our side. Mr. Kane said so there is a possibility. Chairman Flansburg said it is possible but it is not our intention. Mr. Kane asked Chairman Flansburg again if the dissolution is a possibility. Chairman Flansburg said he things when some things come into light and he cannot talk about them. Mr. Kane asked Chairman Flansburg and said generally speaking even if it is against the wishes of the people of the Township you are prepared to go forward with the dissolution of the police force. Supervisor Banach said he thinks there will be compromise on both sides.
Mr. Kane asked again if it is a possibility. Supervisor Banach said it is always a possibility. No one knows how negotiations are going to go. He said there will be win and lose but in the end he feels there will still be a police department but there will be a new contract.
Anne Marie Catalano addressed the Board. She said she is on the Board at Milford Landing. She said she hopes and prays that our Police Department stays as it is because Milford Landing is 164 families. She stated they are a self-supporting community and they depend on the fire department and police department to come and help us. She said there are a lot of elderly people. She said when there is an emergency the police help control the traffic so they can get in and out of the community. It is impossible to get in and out of the community otherwise. Mr. Catalano said they feel safe because they have the department. She said Milford Landing does not depend on the town for anything else. They are self-supporting, pay their taxes and send their children to the school. She asked the Board to please take into consideration the necessity of the police department.
Mr. Lewis asked if they got rid of the police department would the Township still be responsible for the payment of the police salary. There were many people in the audience saying “yes”. Supervisor Banach asked if they have all read the contract. Lynn Homer said she has and she helped do it. Supervisor Banach said the contract does not say that. He said we are responsible for one year from the time we gave them notice which was last month. Chairman Flansburg said he does not think that anyone in the room is qualified to interpret the contract and that is why we have a lawyer. Solicitor Bernathy said there are certainly costs in the dissolution referred to in the agreement and the cost to start a Westfall Police Department. Mr. Lewis asked the price of the dissolution. Solicitor Bernathy said we are in the process of determining that and it is costly.
Corinne Jacob addressed the Board. She said she lives in Port Jervis. She said there was a car-jacking and a mugging last Sunday night and that was her. She the police department was fantastic and responded almost immediately. They were there within 45 seconds of the 911 call reaching the department. They were courteous and they calmed her down. She said she was bruised, mugged and in shock. Mrs. Jacob said she cannot thank them enough. She said the Police Chief called her himself to see how she was doing. She asked the gentleman on the Board how many of them have wives. Chairman Flansburg said we all do. She said to please think about this before they make a decision. It could have been one of their wives or daughter. She said she is begging them to remember this incident before they make their decision. There was applause from the crowd.
Mr. Isaacson said he believes he heard that there was not letter to send to Matamoras to dissolve the Police Department and that Supervisor Banach said the year has started. Chairman Flansburg said the letter said that they will pull out but would rather renegotiate the contract. Corinne Jacobs from Matamoras Borough said when she said the threat was made the Supervisors said the threat was not made. Solicitor Bernathy said it is not a threat it is a contractual provision. That is the way the contract was written.
Ms. Stohl said she did not serve her country for eight years to not feel safe in her own house and to have to wait over one half an hour for the State Police to arrive if something happen to her or her two and a half year old son. She said she wants to know why it was even put on the table to get rid of the Police Department. Chairman Flansburg said we are in a contract that we feel is not good for our people. She asked if Chairman Flansburg believes the dissolution of the Police Department is better for our community. Chairman Flansburg said he feels that Ms. Stohl is under the assumption that if the Police Department is dissolved that there would be no police protection. She asked where the police protection would come from. Chairman Flansburg said if there is no Eastern Pike Regional we would have to go back to having a Westfall Police Department and a Matamoras Police Department. Ms. Stohl questioned the substantial amount of funds for this. Chairman Flansburg said we do not know that until the numbers come in.
Robert Brown from Westfall Township addressed the Board and started asking a question. Chairman Flansburg excused himself and said that Mr. Brown interrupted the conversation and he could wait his turn. He said Ms. Stohl was talking and he needed to pay his obligation to her. Mr. Brown apologized.
Ms. Stohl questioned the reasoning behind making a Westfall Police Department. She said Chairman Flansburg said he wants to make things better for the Westfall residents but making another Police Department will be very costly and it will make the taxes more. Ms. Stohl questioned Chairman Flansburg saying he wants the best for the people. Chairman Flansburg said he does not know where she came up with the taxes will be even more. Supervisor Banach said there is no disrespect to anyone but we are kind of getting the cart before the horse. He said to allow us to get our committee together and come back next month and give some reports. We would like to have a conversation without lawyers. He said we have been requesting this for two years. We need to make it the best for Matamoras, Westfall, and the Tax Payers. Supervisor Banach said he will meet with Mr. O’Leary with regards to the Officers at the school having police powers. He also suggested that the school hire a couple of the officers and let all of the townships pay for them. Solicitor Bernathy suggested that Walmart and Kmart pay for the prosecution of their own retail theft which happens in most other jurisdictions. Supervisor Banach said we are trying to find the best way to collect the tax dollar and to get the best service for everyone for all things. He said with the Police it is the same thing. It is no different than our roads. We look at many ways to make money. We looked into selling our Sewer Authority to make money but it is not in our best interest. He said we are looking at the best way to collect the tax dollar and get the best service for everybody for all things. He said with the police it is the same thing. It is no different than our roads. We looked at every possibility to make money even selling the Sewer Authority. It turned out to be not in our best interest. Supervisor Banach said we had Mr. Schneider look into this so that we could pay down our debt to start over. It is not a good idea since we can borrow money through the Authority.
Mr. Trotta addressed the Board. He said maybe Solicitor Bernathy could answer a question. He said on the School Board people get to vote on the budget and here we have no say regarding the budget. He asked Solicitor Bernathy if these laws can be changes. Chairman Flansburg said just for reference he suggested at a budget meeting to a crowd that if we raised the taxes by one mill if anyone would agree and no one agreed. Mr. Trotta feel that something important which would cost a lot of money should be the choice of the people. He feels that police protection is important. Supervisor Banach said the Earned Income Tax has gone on and off of the agenda several times. We are trying to minimize spending and get the people the best service but we have been running into road blocks since our founding fathers have created lawsuit expenses. He said the tax will take more of the people’s money to buy more toys in his opinion. He said he is a tax payer and has lived here his whole life and he wants his taxes back to 14 mills so that he has money to spend on things that he wants rather than paying the School. He said he heard that the School is increasing taxes by 4.2%. No one will be able to go out to dinner or get a new vehicle. He said we are trying to get so that we can manage within the real budget for the Township. The real budget for the Township says 14 mills to run the general government. He said we will never get down to that but we would like to make it so one year the residents can get a tax credit. This is what we are trying to do for the people. We do not want to get rid of services. We want better roads and we have a ten year blacktop plan which is falling apart. He said we are putting money into the Police Department and paying for the lawsuits. All we are trying to do is manage the tax payer’s money. Chairman Flansburg said the road projects which are being done this year were brought to the Board in 2006. We are eight years behind on the projects that Mr. Schneider thinks we should be working on. Supervisor Banach said the Fire Departments have given up raises to make ends meet. He stated we do not want to penalize anyone in this room ever again with more taxes. He said back in 2009 when we talked about Earned Income Tax, this room was packed because they did not want it. He asked if the people want an Earned Income Tax. Mrs. Height said if it keeps our Police Department. Supervisor Banach suggested we keep the Police Department through negotiations. Mrs. Height said from her understanding Matamoras did want to negotiate and she does not understand why Westfall did not want the Attorneys there. Supervisor Banach said we had one session and every time someone opened their mouth they were told they could not talk about that. He said we want it to be face to face and to talk about it. That is all we want and that is what we are going to do.
Kevin Rose addressed the Board with a budget question. He asked if the Westfall Supervisors receive a monthly budget report from the Police Commission. Supervisor Banach said no and that he has not seen one in years. Mr. Rose said he sits on the Police Commission and he is also a Matamoras Borough Councilman. He said he received the financial statement every single month. Mr. Rose said the two Supervisors who are Police Commissioners should be providing the report to the rest of the Board. He said there was a comment made earlier that Matamoras was not willing to cooperate. We have a Police Commission and since the time he has been on since January there has never been mention of an issue with the budget. He said the only issues he has seen is who is taking which police car home. Mr. Rose said the Commission has a $1,500 allowance for ammunition. He said we just had a young lady that stated she was held up at gun point. It is coming down the pike and someone is actually going to pull that trigger one day and there will be someone laying in the street dying. He suggested the Supervisors take this into consideration. He said on a personal note he is 110% willing to cooperate. Mr. Rose said at the last Police Commission meeting there was not Westfall Township representation. There was applause from the crowd. He said in Matamoras if there is no one available to attend the President of the Council will appoint someone for the night to stand in. He said to Supervisor Banach to not take this the wrong way but this is the first time he is actually seeing him. There was applause by the crowd. He said Supervisor Banach was not even in attendance at the Joint Meeting. Supervisor Banach said that is correct. Mr. Rose said it is a pleasure to meet Supervisor Banach. Supervisor Banach said thank you.
Chairman Flansburg said to Mr. Rose that he was present when he presented a list of questions to the Commission in February. Mr. Rose said he still has the list. Chairman Flansburg asked how many of them have been answered. Mr. Rose asked Chairman Flansburg when he has been back. Chairman Flansburg said there is a reason he has not been back and that is because “you guys” have drug him to court. Mr. Rose said to Chairman Flansburg not to say “you guys”. Chairman Flansburg said to Mr. Rose to answer his question. Mr. Rose said six of the questions were already answered. Chairman Flansburg said zero have been answered. Mr. Rose asked Chairman Flansburg where he has been to find out if they were done. Chairman Flansburg asked why the answers could not have been emailed. Mr. Rose brought up the November meeting and referenced the letter the Supervisors agreed to send. He said that Chairman Flansburg said he has no intention to pull out of the Department but the bottom of the letter says that you do. Solicitor Bernathy said this information in inaccurate and that is not what the letter says. The letter ends by indicating that it is not our intention to dissolve the Police Department. Mr. Rose asked if Mr. Bernathy could read a copy of the letter. The crowd suggested he read the letter. Solicitor Bernathy said he does not have a copy of the letter in front of him but he will paraphrase. He said he is being recorded and he will not say anything he is not absolutely certain. Solicitor Bernathy said that he can assure that the last paragraph of the letter, which will be made available to anyone present, indicates that it is not our intention to do so. We are puzzled at all of the language out there that it is our intention to dissolve the department. Mr. Rose said that, he can be quoted, he as a Matamoras Borough Councilman has no intention of disbanding the Department over personal issues. He has no intention on having it disbanded at all. The Regional Police Department is the best thing they have ever had and it needs to be continued. There was applause from the crowd.
Mr. Bostinto addressed Chairman Flansburg. He said he mentioned there is a $26,000 difference per year which works out to be about 3 cents per day per resident. He said it is one dollar per month roughly. Mr. Bostinto said there has to be more to this than just the $26,000. He said let’s get to the bottom of the issue here. It cannot be the $26,000. He said he will give his twelve months’ worth. He said let’s get to the heart of the matter and he asked what is the problem. Chairman Flansburg said the contract needs to be renegotiated. Mr. Bostinto asked which part of the contract. Supervisor Banach said the terms and conditions of the contract. Solicitor Bernathy said this is the purpose for the committee. Mr. Bostinto asked how they determined that the contract needs to be renegotiated if they do not know what the issues are. Solicitor Bernathy said we do know what the issues are. Mr. Bostinto asked what the issues are. Solicitor Bernathy said that is going to be the subject of the committee. Mr. Trotta said we should know. Solicitor Bernathy said there were some problems regarding the structuring. Mr. Pranski asked why the Supervisors are not telling us this. Solicitor Bernathy said Mr. Trotta was looking at me and I am answering his question. Chairman Flansburg said it is a legal question. Mr. Bostinto suggested putting the issues on the table. He said if we agree with the Supervisors they have our backing but if we disagree they will hear that too. He said the cost of this divorce does not outweigh the three percent. Mr. Bostinto said if the worst case basis comes true, where the police station will be located. Supervisor Dotey said this is so premature. Mr. Bostinto wants to go one year without being sued.
Chairman Flansburg said he can give a for instance on the contract. He said the Commissioner’s terms are all up on the same year. So, in a few years we will lose a bunch of Commissioners and no one will know a thing about the Police Department. He said he would like to see the Commission terms staggered so that there is someone knowledgeable from each Board. Mr. Bostinto said we want to see the list of things. There is a lot of guessing going on. Chairman Flansburg said he needs to meet separately with each Supervisor, not to violate the Sunshine Law, so that he can prepare a list of all of the issues. Ms. Brelje said this is the purpose of Board meetings. Solicitor Bernathy said to Ms. Brelje that contract negotiations are an exception as he has told her previously. He said he is bound by the same law that everyone else in the room. Mr. Brelje said she does not recall the conversation. She said she is not aware of the exception. Solicitor Bernathy said there is a chance of possible litigation if there is a breach of the contract.
Woody Adams from Westfall Township addressed the Board. He said the $26,000 does not seem to be too much of an issue. He questioned the Sunshine Law and said that this is a public meeting. This would be a good place to tell us the issues. He asked the truth about disbanding the Police Department. He asked if the Supervisors were in a consensus. Supervisor Banach said the only way to renegotiate the contract is to give notice. This is what we did to start the negotiations. He said we want to talk about each line item of the contract with Matamoras. He said we are not going to show all of our cards. He said it is negotiation and we want to have a true negotiation to benefit Matamoras and Westfall residents. Supervisor Banach said there are many things with the contract that could have been missed or misreported that could get us into potential litigation. We do not want this to happen again and this is what we want to do for everyone. Mr. Adams asked if it is to avoid future litigation. Supervisor Banach said correct. He said we do not dream these things up and the contract needs to be changed every year. He said the contract was a three year contract. It was then to be renegotiated in 2008 and have never been renegotiated. He stated the reason for renegotiation is that things in the community change.
Solicitor Bernathy said he has a copy of the May 6, 2014 letter to Matamoras Borough. He read the last paragraph of the letter. The crowd asked Solicitor Bernathy to read the letter so he read it. He said it is not the Supervisors intention to pull out of the Department. He knows a lot of the people are concerned of not having police coverage and he said he would be concerned. Ms. Robin said the second to last sentence said it was their intention. Solicitor Bernathy said the way the contract is written, the only control the Supervisors have over the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department is the funding of the Department. The operation, management, and day to day operation is handled by the Police Commission and the Department itself. He said the only way Westfall could get out of that is to provide the notice otherwise the Department continues to perpetuate under the previous budget. Ms. Robin asked why they could not say due to the census we would like to renegotiate. Solicitor Bernathy said we have talked about the apportionment formula which was brought to Matamoras’ attention back in October by letter. Chairman Flansburg said that maybe when the whole thing is renegotiated that clause will be removed and we will have an outlet for our concerns. Mr. Robin asked what the cost would be if we do step out of the contract. Chairman Flansburg said we need to appoint a committee to do so. Ms. Robin asked if that could be done within the next month so when they go to the table they will have Plan A and Plan B. Chairman Flansburg asked that everyone cool down and give us a chance to sit down and talk and come to the next meeting and he will have a report of what he has learned the that month. He said we do not like the threat either but it is our only recourse to say we need to sit and renegotiate or we need to get out. Mr. Robin said that is fair enough.
Mr. Isaacson said the entire letter is about money. The $26,000. He said he does not hear anything else about what they like or don’t like. It is all about the money. Chairman Flansburg said we made a motion that we do not want to dissolve the Police Department and it is our intent to restructure the Commission and the contract. Mr. Isaacson questioned if this could be put on the November ballot for the residents to vote on whether or not the Supervisors should threaten to pull out of the Police Department. He said maybe this will give an idea through the collective body that we do not want this discussed anymore. Mr. Isaacson said we like the Police Department, we want the Police Department and we do not care about the $26,000. Chairman Flansburg said that is not what was said at the budget meeting. Chairman Flansburg said that Mr. Isaacson knows since he is on the Mill Rift Fire Department. Mr. Isaacson said unfortunately since we do not get many calls we get cut which is understandable. He said we are talking about 300 Police calls in Westfall and 100 Police calls in Matamoras per month. He said one cop covers Westfall and the other covers Matamoras and part of Westfall. He questioned the 50/50 arrangement. Chairman Flansburg said these are things we need to work out.
Shane Kane addressed the Board. He asked if ultimately the decision is made to dissolve the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department what would be the earliest time this could take place. Supervisor Banach said we want to get this done within ninety days. Mr. Kane asked when would be the earliest. Supervisor Banach said ninety days. Mr. Kane asked if the public will be made of the final decision. Supervisor Banach said absolutely.
Vanessa Ray, General Manager of Hampton Inn, addressed the Board. She personally thanked the Police Department since they have come at the drop of a hat. She said she has young staff working twenty four hours at her desk. She said as an outsider looking in, the way this is being processed, seems sneaky and underhanded. She said she cannot understand the reason the Council cannot email the points without breaking the law. Ms. Ray said the people that have elected the Supervisors should overwhelm the small difference that is obviously there. She said she lives in Dingmans and is from New York City. She is grateful her children do not go into a school that has metal detectors and bars on the windows. She said she depends on the Police Department to keep her staff safe and she does not see why this needs to be such a ruckus when this is people’s lives on the line. Ms. Ray said a price cannot be put on life under any circumstances. There was applause from the crowd.
Pete Sigreto addressed Chief Stewart. He asked Chief Stewart to provide the amount it costs per day per person for police protection under the contract which is now in place. Chief Stewart said off the top of his head it is about 47 cents. Mr. Sigretto said unfortunately he has a bad habit of smoking cigarettes which he buys in Matamoras and Westfall. They are $5.48 per pack. He said for him to have police protection for 47 cents per day, Hallelujah.
Mr. Pranski addressed the Board. He said the Supervisors made a pretty weird accusation before. He said it was that Dingmans and Shohola are getting school protection at a cost to just this Township. He said the cost is distributed to every town within the School District. It is not just this town that pays for the police there. Mr. Pranski said if we pull out of this department we lose everything the department has including all equipment. Vice Chairman said that is how the contract is structured. He asked if the decision could be put on a referendum. Chairman Flansburg said he does not know the answer to that question and he directed the question to Solicitor Bernathy. Solicitor Bernathy asked if Mr. Pranski wants him to talk. Mr. Pranski said when his opinion is needed. He said when someone in the audience is addressing him he should but if someone is addressing the Supervisors they should answer for themselves. Solicitor Bernathy said he can research the referendum question. He said this was Mr. Trotta’s concern earlier in the meeting. If the Supervisors were proposing to have no police protection that would be something which could go on a referendum. That is something which needs to be considered.
Chairman Flansburg said we seem to be going over the same old thing over and over so he will take comment from Mr. Heater and then the meeting will move on.
Frank Heater addressed the Board and the letter which Solicitor Bernathy read which was sent to Matamoras. Mr. Heater asked if everyone on the Board has the same feeling about that letter or did it come from a result of the Police Commission Commissioners which are from Westfall Township Board. Supervisor Banach said that Supervisor Buchanan voted no but the others were in favor. Vice Chairman Melvin said he was not present.
Chairman Flansburg said we need to move on. Mr. Bostinto said he has one last question regarding the committee. He suggested there be a fifth person to be an arbitrator or referee on the panel. Solicitor Bernathy said he could make the suggestion to Matamoras. The committee arrangement was the idea of Matamoras which he thinks was a good idea.
Lisa Mickles addressed the Board. She said she would like to clarify the article in the newspaper last month. It was the motion which was made and not the letter itself. She said the motion came off a lot more harsh that the letter which Solicitor Bernathy just read. Solicitor Bernathy said it was factually accurate.
Kevin Salvati addressed the Board. He said at the last workshop meeting he thought the determination was made that our roads are in good shape. Chairman Flansburg said he did not get that from the conversation. Solicitor Bernathy said he did not either. Mr. Salvati said as per Supervisor Buchanan that the only worry pertaining to roads is if we have another major flood. Supervisor Dotey suggested that Mr. Salvati take a ride with Mr. Schneider and he will show the problems. Mr. Salvati said he plows the roads all winter. Supervisor Banach said there are millions of dollars of repairs which need to be done to the roads. He said we will meet with our committee and balance the whole thing so we have police, roads and fire protection. We will find the even balance so we do not tax the residents out of the community. He asked for a show of hands for a five percent Earned Income Tax. Half will go to the Township and half will go to the School Board. There were no hands raised. Supervisor Banach said let us do our jobs and if we do not do our jobs, come back and yell at us. It is great to see all of these people here and it should always be this way. He said he has been coming to meetings his entire life and during the Katz time there were three people who sat in the audience. The three people were himself, his wife and Bill Schneider. He said he asked what the Board was doing to our town. We are now paying 6 million dollars to Mr. Katz and not to mention all of the repairs to the sewer system. Not once but twice he sued us because no one was in the audience. He asked that this place be filled every time a meeting is held. The residents would see what goes on verbatim, not rumor, Facebook or the newspaper.
Supervisor Banach said we have asked the fire companies to merge. He asked if it makes business sense to have two departments. He said emotions get involved. He asked if it makes sense for Matamoras to have all those fire trucks. He said he is not picking on the fireman but think of it as a business. He said this day and age with money being so tight we need to make it better. He asked if we need all of the fire trucks and police cars. Sometimes when the question is asked, people get mad at you. He said it should be the same way a person runs their house. Do they need a new car or can they make the old car last a little longer. We are trying the best we can to help everybody. He said Mr. Trotta has a very good point. Supervisor Banach talked about the school taxes going up. He recommended the Police Chiefs go to the School. He said we have spoken about this before. Chief Eric Stewart said to Supervisor Banach that he has never spoken to him about this. Supervisor Banach said we have talked in meetings. He asked the Chiefs to go to the school since we are paying three people at the school for security and our police are there all the time. He said how about the Westfall and Matamoras residents get some of the gravy back. Supervisor Banach suggested that if anyone does not think the Supervisors are doing a good job to come to the meetings and tell them. He said we are trying to do the best for the people and to have all of the services the people want.
Alyse Vitchers from Westfall Township addressed the Board. She said pending litigation was mentioned earlier. She asked the Supervisors if they feel the contract leaves us liable for impending litigation and if that it is in the Township’s best interest to renegotiate the contract to avoid future litigation. Chairman Flansburg suggested the question be directed toward Solicitor Bernathy. Solicitor Bernathy said he did write the contract. He said it does not necessarily expose the Township for litigation but it depends on whether or not if it is complied with and whether or not there are violations of the contract by the parties of the contract or who the contract binds included but not limited to the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission.
Jill Hamilton, a Westfall resident, addressed the Board. She said if this is about money why not go to the box stores and ask them to prosecute their shoplifters. She asked why we did not go to the school before we wrote this letter. Supervisor Banach said the reason is that the way the contract is set up is that the police department is a separate entity which there are Westfall and Matamoras representatives. He said in the past we have asked our representatives to do that for us. The structure needs to be looked at so that the department works for us and not us for them. Ms. Hamilton said it is obvious that Matamoras and Westfall do not get along. Solicitor Bernathy said that is not true. Matamoras is here and they come to our meetings. Ms. Hamilton said there is a lot of animosity. Solicitor Bernathy said there used to be. It is getting better. Ms. Hamilton said that we hope that the committees will negotiate in good faith and that everyone here will hold them to that. Chairman Flansburg said that we hope so too.
Mike Barth from Westfall Township addressed the Board. He asked when the contract was written. Solicitor Bernathy said 2007. Mr. Barth asked if it has ever been looked at and is there a requirement in the contract to have it looked at periodically. Solicitor Bernathy said there have been no substantial changes to the contract. Mr. Dalton referred to an amendment in paragraph six. Solicitor Bernathy said there have been so substantial changes. Mr. Dalton said that paragraph five needs to be revised. Solicitor Bernathy said we think there are things which need to be revised and made better. Mr. Barth asked if there is anything in the contract which requires us to look at the contract periodically. Chairman Flansburg said there is a brief reference in the beginning. Solicitor Bernathy said there is an initial three year commitment to not be able to pull out of the agreement. Mr. Barth said he does not mean to pull out he means to renegotiate. Solicitor Bernathy said not anything specific. Chairman Flansburg stated again that all we are trying to do is renegotiate a contract here.
Chairman Flansburg said we are going to move on.
A motion was made by Supervisor Banach to approve the May 5, 2014 Regular Meeting Minutes. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the correction (Supervisor Banach was typed as Supervisor Buchanan in error) of the April 23, 2014 Joint Meeting Minutes. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried three in favor and one abstention. Supervisor Banach abstained since he did not attend the meeting.
May 28, 2014 Workshop Meeting: Tabled
TREASURER’S REPORT: Scott Myer gave the report. The report is from January through May, 2014. May is when the real estate taxes are due and the majority of the money is collected. Mr. Myer said we have collected 91% of the taxes which is what is expected for this time of year. He said expensed are in line with the budget. Vice Chairman Melvin asked where we usually are this time of year with taxes. Mr. Myer said we are exactly where we normally are and expect to be.
A motion was made by Supervisor Banach to approve the Treasurer’s Report. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
The Westfall Fire Department report for the month of May, 2014 was given by Rob Llewellyn. He stated there were 7 automatic fire alarms, 10 motor vehicle accidents, 2 brush fires, 1 chief investigation, 1 gas leak, 1 stand-by transfer, 3 landing zone, 2 utility wires down, 1 hazardous material, 5 water rescue and 2 structure fires. The total calls for May were 35 and 127 calls year to date. Mr. Llewellyn said the total man hours for the month were 296. The total man hours year to date are 1,193.83.
There were 62 EMS calls for Westfall Township, 18 calls to cover Squad 33, 1 calls to cover Sussex County, and 7 calls to cover Squad 19 with a total of 88 EMS calls. There were four drills/in house training sessions held for 112 hours.
The overall calls year to date are 500 and overall man hours year to date are 2,770.85. Ten members attended 5 hours of live burn training at PCTC.
The Mill Rift Fire Department report for the month of May, 2014 was given by Chuck Pranski. He said on May 1 there was a call for mutual aid to Sparrowbush for a structure fire. May 7th there was pump training on engines 1 and 2, May 10th chief investigation, May 12th chief investigation, May 13th mutual aid to 39 one tanker, May 16 fill pools with engine one tanker one, May 21st same service, May 22 mutual aid to 39 one tanker, May 25th motor vehicle accident engine one, and May 28th work night-driver training engines one and two. The total man hours for the month were 125. The total man hours for the year were 648.
A motion was made by Vice Chairman Melvin to accept the fire department reports. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carries with all in favor.
HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT: Bill Schneider gave the report for May, 2014. He stated the department did guide rail installation on Heaters Hill. Robert Howard and Dick Mai attended a Road Side Training Class. All three highway employees attended a workshop safety class. Mr. Schneider said he attended a two day dirt and gravel road class. He met with the Delaware River Basin Commission and Army Corp of Engineers regarding Machipicong Island. Mr. Schneider attended the Road Task Force meeting. The department worked on River Road in Mill Rift. They installed signs throughout the township. Mr. Schneider said they worked on Fire Tower Road and helped with the millings. He also spoke with Kiley Associates regarding culvert pipes on Cummins Hill and James and Elizabeth Streets. Mr. Schneider worked on gathering information for the last Supervisor Workshop meeting. He said as he stated at the workshop meeting there are some issues with the roads in the township. The roads are sliding into some of the streams. He said Solicitor Bernathy asked him at the workshop meeting if there were any immediate concerns and he said no. He stated there are some long range plans that need to be done. He said in 2007 he was asked to make a list of priorities and which he has been doing. He said that Mr. Pranski asked if there has been any effect in the stream areas/roads from normal rains. Mr. Schneider said Heaters Hill and Slatestone (below Slatestone gate) have been affected. Two areas, Heaters Hill and Decker Lane, collapsed after the hurricane and FEMA paid for those areas. He said $268,000 was reimbursed to the Township. The Township received a $500,000 grant for the Pond Eddy Road about four or five years ago. Shohola did most of the leg work. The township received, through the Municipal Authority, a $1.7 million grant and two $500,000 grants to do improvements to the sewer plant.
Mr. Schneider said he takes care of the roads on a day to day basis and that if there are an issues to call the township office and he would take care of them promptly.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the highway report. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carried with all in favor.
BUILDING/ZONING REPORT: Chairman Flansburg said that since we have a crowd tonight he would like to introduce our new Zoning Officer. He said he is a nice guy, has quite an education in engineering and we are glad to have him. There was applause from the crowd.
Douglas Olmstead gave the report for May. He stated the fees received and the balance due. Total received was $1,189.00 and balance due is $13,394.60. A few large payments were made at the end of the day today and have not yet been posted. Secretary Jodi Hulse said a large check was received for Mavis Tire.
A motion was made by Supervisor Dotey to approve the building/zoning report. The motion was seconded by Vice Chairman Melvin and carried with all in favor.
CORRESPONDENCE: On desk for review.
A motion was made by Chairman Flansburg to appoint Supervisor Dotey and Supervisor Banach as the two committee members. The crowd was in opposition. Chairman Flansburg said they did not want a Commissioner. Mr. Pranski said they meant a current Commissioner. Chairman Flansburg said that Supervisor Buchanan has a dog in that fight too. He said that Supervisor Dotey was passionate about wanting to fix it and Supervisor Banach is quite knowledgeable about it. Chairman Flansburg stated it is just a discussion. An unknown woman (did not state her name for the record) stated that it is on record that Supervisor Banach has an issue with the Police Department and certain members of it. She said she does not think it is in the best interest of Westfall to be on the committee. Supervisor Banach asked the woman what record she is referring to. The woman said the investigation he has into Mr. Stewart. Supervisor Banach said he does not have an investigation with Mr. Stewart. She said he had one. Tom Lamb said Supervisor Banach has a complaint against Eric Stewart and he should not be on the Police Commission. He said Supervisor Buchanan has experience and the tax payers want Supervisor Buchanan. Mrs. Height said to Chairman Flansburg he has not listened to anything this whole room has suggested all night and that he just makes his own suggestion. She asked if she should call him Mayor Jenkins. She said this whole room suggested Supervisor Buchanan. Chairman Flansburg asked why is it the whole room suggested Supervisor Buchanan. He said it was stated that Supervisor Banach has a problem with the Police Department and Supervisor Buchanan does not. He asked if that was the crowd stacking the deck the other way. Mrs. Height said she thought Chairman Flansburg wanted everyone to come together but obviously he does not. Vice Chairman Melvin said he would like Supervisor Buchanan to be on the committee as well but he probably has a different viewpoint that some other people. He said that if Supervisor Banach and Supervisor Dotey are on the committee and work through the contractual issues, we should be able to come out of the other end with agreements the Township could live with. He said his first thing is that the Police Department should remain intact. He does not think there should have extra money spent on the Police Department and we have budgetary constraints. He said he is not looking to increase the police budget but he would like it to remain the same. Supervisor Buchanan said that he has a problem because two years ago Westfall did not have a problem talking to Matamoras. He said if the issues are just that staggering of the terms, he agrees with that. He stated there are a few minor issues with the contract but he does not think we had to threaten Matamoras that we would pull out of the department to get them to sit down and talk to us. There was applause from the crowd. Supervisor Buchanan said that if we went to the President of the Matamoras Council and said we wanted to talk he would not have said no. He said he does not understand where this friction has come from. Chairman Flansburg said we put it on the agenda for the Joint Meeting and they told us they did not want to talk about it. Ms. Robin said it was not advertised properly so it could not be put on the agenda and there was not enough notice. Mr. Trotta said it should be balanced. There was applause from the crowd.
Rosalyn Hobatch addressed the Board and said she cannot speak for everyone here but she has been to meetings and she has fought with Supervisor Buchanan and she has agreed with Supervisor Buchanan. She said he has always sat with her and honestly discussed the issue. He did not always bring her over to his side but he did sit and talk to her. She said this is the reason she would like Supervisor Buchanan on the committee.
Chairman Flansburg withdrew his motion and said he will wait for another motion. The crowd thanked Chairman Flansburg. Mrs. Height asked Chairman Flansburg if this would go into executive session. Chairman Flansburg said she would be the first to know. Mrs. Height said she will wait.
Vice Chairman Melvin made a motion to appoint Supervisor Buchanan to the committee. He then asked Supervisor Banach if he would be able to attend the meetings. Supervisor Banach said it depends on when the meetings will take place. If they are after hours it would be better. Supervisor Banach said to Vice Chairman Melvin it will be the same as his schedule. Supervisor Banach said he works. Vice Chairman Melvin made a motion to appoint Supervisor Buchanan and Supervisor Banach to be on the committee to represent Westfall. He said he feels it represents both sides and it would make things progress.
Ms. Stohl asked if the Supervisors are appointed or elected. Vice Chairman Melvin said we are elected. Ms. Stohl asked if the Supervisors campaigned for the position and that she feels they should make sure their schedules are clear to support the people they represent. Vice Chairman Melvin said we checked with PSATS and it is legal for Supervisor Banach to phone in to the meetings. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed. Chairman Flansburg said Supervisor Banach was present at all of the meetings until his new job showed up. Mr. Trotta suggested Supervisor Dotey and Supervisor Buchanan for the committee.
Vice Chairman Melvin withdrew his previous motion. Chairman Flansburg made a motion to appoint Supervisor Dotey and Supervisor Buchanan to the committee. There was applause from the crowd. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carried unanimously.
Fred Buckholtz from Westfall addressed the Board. He said he is not a full time resident of Westfall Township but has paid school and township tax for the past eighteen years. He questioned if the EIT would apply to him. Chairman Flansburg asked where Mr. Buckholtz was a full time resident. He said NYC. Chairman Flansburg said it probably would not apply to Mr. Buckholtz unless he made money in Westfall Township. Mr. Buckholtz said it sounds great to him. He said he has been paying taxes for 18 years and his children did not go to school in Westfall. He said it sounds great and it will make us able to get rid of the property tax. Supervisor Banach said it will not get rid of the property tax. Mr. Buckholtz said there are many tax payers in Pike County that are not full time residents that help the tax base for all of the municipalities.
Mr. Dalton said the subject of the EIT came up back in 2010 and it was shot down. He said he does not think the Township was as distressed as then. Mr. Dalton said he is retired and it will not affect him but he hates to see it affect the working people. He hopes to see the property taxes go down somewhat. His said his only concern it who will collect the tax. He did some research on the internet and found out it is Berkheimer out of Scranton. It concerns him as to the percentage they will charge. Solicitor Bernathy said that would be a contract negotiation issue.
The Earned Income Tax discussion was tabled.
Supervisor Banach asked if Solicitor Bernathy has found documents signed by previous Supervisor regarding the tax. Solicitor Bernathy said we are in the process of looking for those records.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve Solicitor Bernathy moving forward to negotiate with the cable company to require the cable company to pay some form of a tax. The motion was seconded by Vice Chairman Melvin and carries with all in favor.
Vice Chairman Melvin made a motion to make to salary increase of 3% effective July 1, 2014. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey.
Mr. Isaacson said some of our employees are new and questioned that all employees would receive the same pay increase. Mr. Schneider said he would like to see the employees who make less than himself receive the raise. He said Dick Mai is a mechanic and we do not have to send out some of our equipment since he has the experience to fix it. Bob Howard is an equipment operator and this allows us to rent equipment and not have to pay for an operator. Mr. Isaacson questioned the time period the Secretary has worked. Vice Chairman Melvin asked Secretary Jodi Hulse her start date. She said August 6th will be one year. Mr. Isaacson questioned the 3% raise for the Secretary since she has worked only one year. Secretary Jodi Hulse said when she was hired her salary was to be based on a four day work week. She has worked until present for five days per week. Ms. Brelje asked how many employees will be receiving raises. Vice Chairman Melvin said four. She then asked an estimate of total cost. Secretary Hulse said that her raise would be $900 per year. Vice Chairman Melvin said about $4,000 or $5,000.
The motion carried with all in favor.
Chairman Flansburg questioned the purpose of the Proposed Driveway Maintenance Ordinance. Solicitor Bernathy said he confirmed with Mr. Schneider this ordinance has to do with newly constructed driveways onto Township rights of way. Mr. Schneider said if there is a water issue from a private driveway onto a Township road this will be addressed and will not become a hazard. Mrs. Hess said in other words Solicitor Bernathy is telling her it is her it is not the Township’s problem. Solicitor Bernathy said that is not what he said and does not want to be argumentative. He said the water cannot be directed onto your property and that Mrs. Hess was present during the land development process. The engineers did their job. Solicitor Bernathy said that Mrs. Hess was present during the approval process and that process was not to direct water onto her property. Mrs. Hess said she tried to fight it and it went nowhere. Solicitor Bernathy said we are waiting for “as builts” upon substantial completion of construction. We will enforce any violation of the plan.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve Solicitor Bernathy to prepare a draft of a Proposed Driveway Maintenance Ordinance. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
The issue was tabled until the July 7, 2014 meeting.
Solicitor Bernathy addressed the previous agenda item #2. He said to Ms. Robin that Section 2307 of the Second Class Township Road defines certain roads as public roads. He read the section. Ms. Robin said it was the road that went to the Beacon. Solicitor Bernathy said Ms. Robin said there was an agreement with the adjacent property owners. Ms. Robin said she never said that and that Solicitor Bernathy said it. Chairman Flansburg asked who plows the road. Ms. Robin said she and her son shovel and plow the road. Solicitor Bernathy said he can show Ms. Robin the law if she would like a copy of it. She said it is a public road. Solicitor Bernathy said it is not a public road. Ms. Robin said she will go to the town historian and she will show him that the road has been a public road for more than twenty one years. Solicitor Bernathy said the road must be maintained by the Township for a period of twenty one years. He said the Township has not maintained the road. Ms. Robin said not in the last couple of years but prior to that she is sure there is twenty one years of public maintenance on the books somewhere. She said it went up to the Beacon and there was a school house up there at one time. Solicitor Bernathy said it is his position that this is not a public road.
A motion was made by Vice Chairman Melvin to approve Solicitor Bernathy to provide a draft of a Sidewalk Maintenance and Fire Hydrant Ordinance. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
Ms. Robin asked if the Zoning Officer could look up the law regarding building driveway on a public road.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Mike Barth of Westfall Township addressed the Board. He said he lives behind the new Smokers Choice store. He said he attended many of the meetings during the development stages. His concern was their driveway traffic shines their lights right at the back of his home. He said at the meetings the owner agreed to put up 6 foot high fencing. Mr. Barth said last week they put up a beautiful fence along his neighbor’s property. He called the owner to inquire and he was told there is no intention of them putting a fence along his property since the plans do not reflect it. Mr. Barth questioned if there is a Zoning Ordinance which requires the fencing on property lines. Mr. Olmstead said they are not supposed to allow light glare to shine into adjoining properties. Solicitor Bernathy said he remembers the requirement for this and should be part of the land development plan. Mr. Barth said he came and looked at the plans and there is a requirement for the fence on the one side but nothing on the other side. Supervisor Banach suggested sending a letter since they have worked well with the Township.
A motion was made by Chairman Flansburg to approve sending a letter to the owners of Smokers Choice to request fencing along Mr. Barth’s property. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach.
There was additional discussion regarding the situation. Mr. Barth said Mr. Swartz agreed to the fencing but it is not on the approved plan.
The motion carried with all in favor.
Wood Adams asked Mr. Schneider who does the signs on the private roads in the Township. He said he lives on Quail Ct. and he had a fire at his home and people could not find his house. Mr. Schneider said if it is not a township road then we do not put a sign on it. Mr. Adams said he is not allowed to put a 911 sign at the end of the road. He was told it would be ripped out by the homeowner who is at the end of this road. Mr. Height said he could apply to have the road named by the Township. He said he would need to obtain authorization from the property owners on the road to name the road. Mr. Adams said there is a sign there already but it is not his property on either side of the road. He wanted to know if there is any township ordinance which allows him to put a sign at the end of the road on someone else’s property. Mr. Barth said there is generally a right of way at the end of the road. There was further discussion regarding this issue. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed there is a name for the road but there is no sign designating the road. Solicitor Bernathy asked to do research to designate the road for emergency purposes.
SUBDIVISION REVIEW AND ACTION: None
ADJOURNMENT: Meeting was adjourned at 10:02 p.m. on a motion by Supervisor Buchanan. Motion seconded by Vice Chairman Melvin and carried with all in favor.
Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA May 28, 2014
The Westfall Township Board of Supervisors held a workshop meeting on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm at the Township Building on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, Westfall Township.
Those present were Chairman, Larry Flansburg; Supervisors, Raymond Banach (by speaker phone), Lester Buchanan and Jerry Dotey; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy and Secretary, Jodi Hulse. Also present were Roadmaster, William Schneider; Constable, Michael Barth; Chief Rob Llewellyn; John Dalton, Chuck Pranski, John Hess, Tina Hess, Diane Heater, Robert Bostinto, Kevin Salvati, William Lamac and Dayne Losee. Approximately 17 members of the general public were in attendance. Vice Chairman Robert Melvin was not present.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE took place.
PUBLIC COMMENT: There was no public comment. Mr. Pranski asked if there will be public comment allowed if a question comes up during the meeting. Chairman Flansburg said yes.
Highway Department: Road Master, Bill Schneider addressed the Board. He presented a list of subjects and handouts he would be discussing. He explained the Tort Liability handout from the state. He read each item and confirmed the Road Department employees are in compliance and up to date with training requirements. Mr. Schneider then addressed the line painting and guiderail section. He said second class townships are not required to paint lines on the roads. LTAP came and did an assessment on the guiderails. They provided a report which states which guiderails are in compliance and which ones are not. They recommended that some of the guiderails were more of a liability to leave them so they have been removed. Supervisor Buchanan asked if there was anyplace the guiderails are required. Mr. Schneider said yes. He said all have been replaced on Heaters Hill except the very bottom. He said they are working there now and installing 110 gabion baskets to correct the stream and then the new guiderails will be installed. Supervisor Buchanan confirmed with Mr. Schneider that the state cannot dictate where we put the guiderails and that there are no spots the guiderails are mandatory.
Solicitor Bernathy asked Mr. Schneider if the township has done line painting in the past. He said they have if there were any complaints. Solicitor Bernathy suggested Secretary Hulse make our insurance carrier aware of this for liability purposes. He said especially for line painting and guide rails.
Next Mr. Schneider addressed a possible “maintenance ordinance” for private road owners. The ordinance would require the owners to provide and pay for maintenance of their driveways to prevent storm water runoff and storm water damage to the township roads. Mr. Schneider suggested the Supervisors pursue looking into this. Chairman Flansburg confirmed with Secretary Hulse this will put this on the agenda for the next meeting. Mr. Schneider also suggested a possible snow removal ordinance or maintenance agreement.
Mr. Schneider presented a list of areas of concern dating back to 2008 through present. He addressed each item on the list. He also presented an overview of the township roads and explained in detail different projects which have been done and need to be done. He presented pictures to the Board of the different areas on concern. Solicitor Bernathy asked Mr. Schneider if there is any emergency which needs to be addressed which affects the health, safety or welfare of the residents of the township who are traveling the roads. Mr. Schneider said there are no emergencies at this time and if one arises it would be taken care of immediately.
Mr. Schneider said he is trying to provide as much information possible to the Supervisors regarding areas of concern after the three floods. These projects will need to be stretched out over several years due to financial reasons. Solicitor Bernathy asked if there are any priorities. Mr. Schneider said Heaters Hill and the bottom of Slatestone in Mill Rift. He said it is the sharp turn as you leave Mill Rift. He said the Pike County Conservation District made an assessment of all of the areas. There are permitting requirements. He said they suggested the banks be pulled back and large stones applied. He explained the project which was done in Pond Eddy. Mr. Schneider explained the issue on Heaters Hill in the Sign Ware Court area. He said he has obtained the proper permitting from the Conservation District and installed gabion baskets to stabilize some of the area. A large tree has been removed in that area also. Supervisor Dotey said the damage to the roads is serious. He then asked the other Supervisors if they assessed the damage. Chairman Flansburg said he has. Supervisor Buchanan said he has worked here for five years and he knows what needs to be done and what does not. Supervisor Dotey said it looks serious in some of the areas and it would not take much of a storm. Supervisor Buchanan said it has been there for years. Mr. Schneider said he is informing the Supervisors of the issues and it is up to them to make the decision.
The next item on the list is a Site Assessment from The Pike County Conservation District as per Mr. Schneider. He also provided a question and answers list regarding rights of way and a letter from Optimum Risk Service from their yearly inspection. Mr. Schneider said the insurance company likes to see that the employees are keeping up with required safety training. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed with Mr. Schneider that the Township is compliant. Mr. Schneider then provided pictures of future road projects. He explained the different areas and projects which need to be done.
Chuck Pranski asked Mr. Schneider if the pictures are the result of the damage of the three storms which he keeps referring. Mr. Schneider said some of it is from the storms. Mr. Pranski asked if there has been anymore erosion with the normal course of weather since the storms. He said there are two areas of concern. Mr. Pranski asked other than the two areas of concern if there are any issues unless there is another major storm. Mr. Schneider said if we do not get high water again we will be okay. Mr. Schneider said he is not an engineer. Mr. Pranski stated we have not seen any major issues in seven years things seem to be stabilized.
Mr. Schneider said Fire Tower Road was redone. They applied millings to 8/10 of a mile. He figured if each truck was worth about $300, which is roughly the cost when purchasing modified, we took about $25,000 to $30,000 worth of material. Supervisor Buchanan confirmed with Mr. Schneider that no one lives on Fire Tower Road. Mr. Pranski asked if we receive Liquid Fuels funds for Fire Tower Road. Mr. Schneider said yes and the amount is a little less than $10,000 per year. He said it will be increasing due to the Transportation Bill in Harrisburg. Supervisor Buchanan said he has a real problem with Fire Tower Road. He stated he does not care if we get $10,000 or not. We are still responsible for the road. He said we are always talking about liability and this road is used strictly during hunting season. The road is in the worst shape in spring and fall. No one lives on the road and no one in the Township uses the road. He added that most of the hunters are New York and New Jersey hunters. It is 2.7 miles. Mr. Pranski stated the Township is proposing to abandon Pond Drive. He asked if the Township could abandon Fire Tower Road. Mr. Schneider said we receive Liquid Fuels funds and we do not put much money into the road. It is not plowed in the winter since we do not maintain the road. He said it can be abandoned and it is up to the Supervisors. Mr. Pranski asked how much Liquid Fuels funds the Township receives for Pond Drive. Mr. Schneider said he would need to look into it. Supervisor Buchanan said it is only 1400 feet so it is not much money. Supervisor Buchanan confirmed with Mr. Schneider that Shohola owned part of Fire Tower Road and they gave it back to the State. Mr. Schneider said it is something for the Supervisors to think about. He said we received the materials from Leeward Construction and we paid $2,800.00 for the operation of the roller and dozer. We did not do the work ourselves due to scheduling issues.
Henchel Road was the next issue Mr. Schneider brought to the Supervisor’s attention. He presented photos of damage from water coming off of the Henchel Road onto the Township Road. Supervisor Buchanan asked if this is the same issue as the letter received from Christina Robin regarding an illegal driveway. Mr. Schneider said the illegal driveway is on Henchel Road and has nothing to do with the Township. Mr. Pranski asked if Henchel Road is a private road. Mr. Schneider said it is. He said last year he talked to Mr. Lamac who is the owner of the road. He spoke to him about obtaining permission to go on the road to make some corrections. Mr. Pranski asked if the problem is coming from a private road and making problems on a township road if the owner of the private road would be responsible for maintaining or correcting the problem on the Township Road. Solicitor Bernathy said it depends on the existing circumstances. It depends if it was runoff that was directed away from its natural course onto a Township Road or was it something that was pre-existing. He would need to know more facts. Chairman Flansburg said we cannot put an ordinance in affect now if the problem already exists. Mr. Schneider said it is not unusual for a Township to go onto a private road to make corrections if it will help correct the problem on the Township Road. Mr. Pranski said his concern is if we fix it once it will be expected to be fixed again and again by the Township. Mr. Schneider said the issue is the water coming down the road and pipes need to be installed. Solicitor Bernathy said that was the subject of a right of entry agreement. Mr. Schneider said we need to stop the water from coming down the road. That is the issue. Supervisor Dotey said it is not only the water but the gravel in the road making a problem. The Supervisors looked at the photos again. Supervisor Banach stated that every driveway in the County puts water onto the roads and the State does not fix culverts. He said that he does not think we should spend money on a private driveway but this would fix the problem that puts ice on the road that could cause more problems to our residents. He said maybe in the future when we pass the ordinance from that point forward we could go after the land owner to fix problems like this. He stated our goal is to get the problem fixed so that it makes it safer for everyone who travels that road.
Supervisor Buchanan asked the status of Machipacong Island. Mr. Schneider said on May 29, 2014 he has an appointment to meet with the DRBC on Machipacong Island. He confirmed we have not taken any money out of the account. He also confirmed with Mrs. Buchanan that Matamoras has not taken any funds out of the Machipacong Island account. Our responsibility is to maintain the road to get onto the island to clear the debris. Mr. Schneider said Machipacong Island runs from Lowe’s to Robert’s Lane. Matamoras, Westfall and Port Jervis maintain it. There cannot be any trees larger than four inches on the island. The towns are responsible for taking them down. He said the design is nice because it takes the debris and channels it to the island. This keeps the channel clear.
Supervisor Buchanan asked if the 84 Tunnel has been painted lately. Mr. Schneider said they have not painted it in a while. The bad language which is usually painted is under control. He said they shovel and maintain the tunnel. The pole was replaced which the electric needs to be removed and put on the new pole. Mr. Pranski asked if we could put a gate there. Chairman Flansburg said he checked into that and the State said it is required to be left open. Solicitor Bernathy said it is pursuant to an agreement. Mr. Pranski asked if there is anyone that can be contacted in Harrisburg since this is a problem area in our Township and there are drug deals going on in that location. Chairman Flansburg said he took it up a few levels and it is clear that we are not allowed to block it off in any way. Supervisor Buchanan said we do not own it. We just agreed to maintain it.
Franchise Tax: Solicitor Bernathy suggested some time ago since the Township did not have an agreement with the cable providers who use the Township Rights of Way to transmit their signals. He said there is law that provides for this and the obligation for the company to contract with the municipality up to certain percentages. He said he has negotiated these in other municipalities and he believes that Westfall is without one. It generates income that the Township is entitled. He suggested the Supervisors put this on the agenda for the next meeting. He added that the companies must negotiate or the Township has the right to interrupt their signal. Supervisor Buchanan said this was looked into extensively in the past and the Township was told by the company to sue the company. Solicitor Bernathy said his firm represents several municipalities and has successfully negotiated contracts and brought them to the table recently. He said it is up to 3% the Township could be collecting right now. Mr. Pranski suggested we obtain a local new channel. Solicitor Bernathy said that could be part of the contractual agreement. There was discussion regarding the cable provider for the township between Mr. Sain and Solicitor Bernathy. Supervisor Banach suggested that Secretary Hulse look back through the minutes when Matamoras cable made an agreement with the Supervisors a number of years ago. There was a lot of paperwork signed by the Township Supervisors at that time. He said he wants to make sure we can pursue this. Solicitor Bernathy said we will look into it. Secretary Hulse asked how many years ago that might have been. Supervisor Buchanan said probably more than ten years ago but might be fifteen to twenty years.
Discussion regarding Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission-Appointment of Committee members-Hamill letter dated May 12, 2014: Solicitor Bernathy suggested the Supervisors put this on the agenda for the next meeting. He said as per Mr. Hamill’s letter, Matamoras Council is seeking to form a committee which will be two members from Matamoras and two from Westfall. They are asking that the two members not be members of the Police Commission. Solicitor Bernathy asked this be placed on the agenda for informational purposes and that the discussion and decision be made at the next regular meeting. He said things are moving forward.
Complaint-Tina and John Hess-Possible curb in Township Right of Way-Smoker’s Choice (Choice Properties, LLC): Tina Hess addressed the Board. She said she submitted a complaint to the Township last week. She asked the Board if the rule changed in 2007 regarding putting something in the Township right of way. Solicitor Bernathy said he would have to look into that since that was before his time. Mrs. Hess said we should see if that is allowed. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed with Mrs. Hess that she is referring to curbing in the right of way at Smokers Choice specifically. Mrs. Hess referred to the curbing at Keystone Fireworks and she said it is pushed in further. Mr. Hess said it is not in the Township right of way at Keystone Fireworks. Mrs. Hess explained the time she had a water problem years ago when a line was dug up by the Township. She said she does not want water there again. She also said she worried about the plowing this winter. She questioned where the snow will be plowed. Mr. Hess also made the Supervisors aware of construction debris which is ending up on her property. She said yesterday they were paving and there was a mess on her property. She said she does not want the mess in her house. She understands they are paving but there was not as much mess on James Street as her side. Mrs. Hess said she wants to make sure her complaint is on record since she will not put up with the water problem. She said she knows this is going to happen. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed with Mrs. Hess that nothing has happened yet. Supervisor Buchanan asked Mrs. Hess a few questions referring to the plan. She explained where she thinks the water problem will happen. Supervisor Buchanan said he knows what she means. Bill Schneider said the curb is twenty feet into the Township right of way. He said the letter from Kiley Associates, Inc. explains that this is the standard and that the land development plan was approved accordingly. Solicitor Bernathy said when the construction is done there needs to be an as built plan and it must be in compliance with the approved land development plan. Mrs. Hess said she thinks the Township Engineer, Planning Board and Supervisors missed it. Solicitor Bernathy said he can assure Mrs. Hess that the Township was aware that the curb would be in the Township right of way since it was indicated clearly on the plan. He said it is somewhat customary.
Solicitor Bernathy said he wants to address each of Mrs. Hess’ concerns. The first concern is that Mrs. Hess is worried about the trespass of water onto her property. He said we have established that it has not happened as of yet. The property is still under construction and must be pursuant to the designs that were approved by the Township. They cannot discharge additional water off of their property onto your property. It is a violation of Township Regulations. Solicitor Bernathy said to Mrs. Hess that it gives her a cause of action of trespass of water privately against the owners. Mrs. Hess said if the Township had not allowed the owner to move the driveway to begin with she would not be sitting and complaining. Mr. Hess said the fireworks store has the curbing set back so when they plow the road the curbing will not be hit. Supervisor Buchanan asked Mr. Schneider if the curbing will be an issue. Mr. Schneider said he is sure they can work around it. He said if this was done through the town it would narrow the road ways.
Mrs. Hess said she knows this will be an issue. Solicitor Bernathy said he hopes it is not. Mr. Schneider said that the engineer said the curb could be moved back in the future if need be. Mrs. Hess hopes the owner polices the property regarding debris because she is tired of picking the debris from her yard. Mr. Hess said they could have cleaned up when they were finished black topping.
Solicitor Bernathy asked if there is anything else. Chairman Flansburg said we are moving toward adjournment but he noticed someone new in the audience and questioned if he came for public comment. He asked Mr. Lamac if he was present for public comment and if he saw the agenda previous to the meeting which public comment was at the end of the meeting on the agenda. Mr. Lamac said yes. Chairman Flansburg told Mr. Lamac the public comment was moved to the beginning of the meeting. He asked Solicitor Bernathy if public comment could be re-opened. Solicitor Bernathy said if the Supervisors want to entertain it, certainly. All of the Supervisors agreed to re-open the public comment.
Mr. Lamac said in light of the recent rumblings pertaining to the Eastern Pike Regional Department and Westfall Township he took it upon himself to file for some “Freedom of Information Act” requests of which he has seven years of the Township minutes. He said he also has a copy of the Regionalization Agreement between Westfall Township and Matamoras for the Police Department. Mr. Lamac said in reading the Regionalization Agreement and the seven years of minutes, there seems to be a problem. He presented a copy of the Agreement to Chairman Flansburg and pointed out page 8, Section C. He read the section regarding a written report filing from the Commission to the State and the municipality by February 15 of each year. He said the minutes do not reflect this has ever happened. Chairman Flansburg said he was on the Commission at that time and does not remember any reports being presented. He asked if anyone at the meeting remembered. He also asked Secretary Hulse if she remembers a report being submitted from the Police Commission. She said she did not see one this year. Chairman Flansburg asked Mr. Lamac if he is stating that the contract says the report is due and we never received it. Mr. Lamac said that is true for seven years. Mr. Lamac said to turn to page 15, item 12 of the Agreement. He read this section regarding deputization of Police Officers. He said if filed a “Request to Know” and received five certified certificates which were done at the signing of the agreement and there were none in the file. He stated since then not one individual was brought here. He read the names on the certificates. He said you have Police Officers who have never been deputized. Chairman Flansburg said let me grasp this for a second. He then read the section of the Agreement regarding the deputization. He confirmed with Mr. Lamac that he requested the certificates and there are none on record. Mr. Lamac said that seven years of Supervisor minutes have no mention of a Police Officer being deputized and not even in the Police Reports. He said the questions is how many traffic tickets were written for DWI, retail thefts, drug thefts, felonies, problems at the school by officers which were not deputized. Chairman Flansburg asked Supervisor Banach if he is getting all of this. Supervisor Banach said he is getting bits and pieces of it but it is hard to hear. Mr. Lamac asked how many individuals fourth, fifth and fourteenth amendment rights have been violated. He asked how many lawyers are going to start asking questions about what was going on. He said the Township is due an answer. Chairman Flansburg said he is hoping that Mr. Lamac is not guessing that he knows the answers. Mr. Lamac said to Chairman Flansburg that he knows he does not have the answers. He said the questions are how many fines are going to be returned, how many legal fees must be repaid, and how much litigation to undo this. Solicitor Bernathy asked if there is anything else. Mr. Lamac said he is not done. He asked how many former Police Commissioners are negligent of their duties by not enforcing the agreement or even reading the agreement. If one were to read the agreement they would understand the obligations. Those obligations were not met. He said someone was asleep at the wheel. He asked how much the Township is due to be paid back if we have Police Officers that were not deputized and could not arrest in the Township. Chairman Flansburg said he did not even have an answer for his first question.
Solicitor Bernathy said it sounds like to him that this really initially is not a Township issue. He said Mr. Lamac has complaints with someone who has not complied with an agreement and it is certainly not the Township who has not complied. Those are your allegations and he is not saying they complied or they did not comply but the operation of the Police Department is up to the Commission and he suggested Mr. Lamac bring the complaints to the Commission. Mr. Lamac said there is a Commissioner present. Solicitor Bernathy said to Mr. Lamac that he is aware this is a Township meeting and we are here to take comment but his initial reaction to this is that it is not a Township matter and this is something he needs to bring to the attention of the commission. He said he appreciates Mr. Lamac bringing this to our attention. He added this would be an issue regarding personnel or the dreaded litigation word. Solicitor Bernathy said pursuant to the agreement the day to day operation of the department is within the hands of its commission. Mr. Lamac asked what is going on and why and what are we paying for. Solicitor Bernathy stated this is a matter which Mr. Lamac needs to take to the next Commission meeting to see if they will provide their position on their compliance with the agreement. He said last year or the year before he wrote to Matamoras and indicated there may be some compliance issues with the agreement but certainly not along the lines of what Mr. Lamac is alleging. He said he cannot stress enough that these are only allegations and that Mr. Lamac needs to bring this to the Commission without delay. He stated again that this is not a Township matter and he advised the Supervisors not to comment at this time. Solicitor Bernathy said to Mr. Lamac that he wants to make sure he is not alleging that the Township is not in compliance. Mr. Lamac said no. He said if the department is not in compliance, there is trouble. Solicitor Bernathy said he hopes that is not the case.
Supervisor Banach asked Solicitor Bernathy if what Mr. Lamac is saying is the truth is there any way this could come back on the Township. He said the Township is paying for a service that is not a real service to us. Solicitor Bernathy said he would be engaging in wild speculation to give an opinion about that. He advised the Supervisors to refrain from commenting on this because it is not a Township issue and it would be the subject of an executive session. He again encouraged Mr. Lamac to bring this matter to the Commission’s attention.
Additional public comment was welcomed. Diane Heater said she owns a business and a home in the Township and she came to the workshop meeting to make a comment regarding what she has heard and read. She said she would like to express her public opinion and she does not want to lose the Police Department. She stated that the Supervisors were elected to represent the people who are the tax payers. She pays her taxes and she does not want to lose the Police Department. Mrs. Heater asked if she needs to initiate a petition so that the Supervisors can hear from the residents. Do the Supervisors need to obtain votes to influence their decision for what will be done? Chairman Flansburg said the motion which was made said clearly that we are not interested in dissolving the Police Department. He said we would however like to renegotiate the contract. He stated that Westfall is a business and it should be run like a business and we believe the contract is not in our best interest as a business. Chairman Flansburg said that all he can tell Mrs. Heater is that she should stress to both boards that we need to sit down and make a business agreement that we can live with. He said he has no interest in there not being a Police Department and he never said that. He refers to it as the “chicken little” syndrome and everyone is yelling that the sky is falling. He said he has no intention of the Police Department but as you can see someone is here right now telling us our Police are not deputized. Mrs. Heater said they are allegations. Mr. Pranski said they are allegations. Solicitor Bernathy said he does not think this is the appropriate forum to discuss that matter. Thankfully it is not a Township issue. Mr. Lamac needs to bring this to the Commission’s attention. Supervisor Banach said he agrees with Mrs. Heater. He said our previous Supervisors made bad decisions. We cannot figure out why they made these decisions. They got the Township into lawsuits which affect the way the Township is run now. We cannot effectively run the Township with the money which is being brought in right now. He said the Board is in a contract right now which does not benefit both parties. Supervisor Banach said no one has ever said we are getting rid of the Police Department. We have gone to Matamoras several times and asked to renegotiate and they have said no. He said we have made giant steps in the last few weeks. We are going to have a committee and we are going to talk. Supervisor Banach said we are trying to fix all of the sins of the past and still make it so that people can live in Westfall Township and still afford their taxes. We look for ways to collect money and every time we do we get thrown down by the County and by the liveries. He stated everyone wants to be in Westfall Township and use everything we have but they do not want to pay their fair share when they come through and do it. We asked for motel taxes. He said he travels all over the country and he pays $30 per night sometimes just for the fact that they may provide an ambulance to him. Every time we ask for something like this we get put down. Supervisor Banach said just like the Franchise Tax. We need to look to see if our founding fathers sold us out on that also. He said his intention has never been to get rid of the Police Department. It is to make it that it is affordable. He said this is a business and if you look at the finances and what we are paying and what we paid before, we need to correct some of the stuff. Mr. Dalton asked Chairman Flansburg what Supervisor Banach said. He said basically that we are a business and we need to be run like a business and that our founding fathers did not always make the best decisions and we are trying to do what is right to make the best decisions and that is why Mr. Banach would like to renegotiate the contract. Supervisor Buchanan said businesses are run to make a profit and we are not here to make a profit. Chairman Flansburg stated he never said to make money just that it needed to be run like business. Mr. Bostinto asked about the financials behind this that are leading up to the decision to renegotiate the contract. He asked where the money is being allocated. Chairman Flansburg said that we have been asking for the financials for quite some time. Mr. Bostinto said a contract cannot be renegotiated based on nothing. Solicitor Bernathy said he thinks this is an issue that Matamoras and Westfall have both acknowledged and will be the subject of hopefully a committee being formed that will happen this upcoming Monday.
Mr. Pranski asked where we stand on the transaction tax that has been talked about. Solicitor Bernathy said we have not taken any further action on that. We have reached out to Matamoras and they have made some good points. Mr. Pranski asked where Westfall Township stands regardless of what Matamoras wants to do. Chairman Flansburg said he does not believe we can enforce a transaction tax that Matamoras does not enforce. Mr. Pranski said a transaction tax cannot be put on one particular item. Solicitor Bernathy said we have talked about this before. He explained this can be done, for example, on fireworks. A tax would be charged on the sale of fireworks by anyone selling them in the Township. Mr. Pranski suggested a tax on any transaction regardless of the type of transaction. Solicitor Bernathy stated he does not think that is something that the Township needs to be legally challenged on at this time. We have already gone through challenges on the amusement tax. He said it has not been his recommendation by to the Township. They do not need to follow his recommendation but all consequences and challenges must be considered. Mr. Pranski said it would generate a lot of money in the Township. Solicitor Bernathy said the Supervisors have proposed ordinances and it is up to them to decide. Solicitor Bernathy said the tax needs to be specific to one item. We could not propose a sales tax. He said he is suggesting implementing a different type of tax which will not include litigation and may involve the decreasing of real estate taxes. Supervisor Buchanan said the Earned Income Tax will be on Monday night’s agenda for discussion.
Tina Hess asked how the committee for the Police Department will be chosen. Solicitor Bernathy told Mrs. Hess it will be two members from each Board. Supervisor Buchanan said it cannot be members of the Police Commission. Mrs. Heater asked if the public could choose the Supervisors. Solicitor Bernathy said the Supervisors will be making that decision. This will be done on Monday at the regular meeting where there will be discussion and voting. Mr. Pranski made a recommendation that Supervisor Buchanan be chosen to be one of the members on the committee.
Kevin Salvati said that every month the Police Commission provides a financial report to the Supervisors who represent the Township. The report is available to the public and accounts for all of the finances of where the money goes. Mr. Salvati asked if the agreement for the Police Department on the agenda for tonight’s meeting. Solicitor Bernathy said the only item on the agenda was that a letter was received from Matamoras and that action on the letter would be taken at a regularly scheduled advertised meeting. Mr. Salvati questioned the reason for the Supervisors having a copy of the agreement at a workshop meeting when it was not on the agenda. Chairman Flansburg said Mr. Lamac handed a copy to him.
Mr. Pranski said he has one more thing to add to this meeting which pertains to the Township Solicitor. He directed his statement to Solicitor Bernathy and stated there is not intent of offense. He said making a statement like that to the Supervisors is out of place and he needs to know that he is the town Solicitor and not a Supervisor. Solicitor Bernathy stated he does not know what Mr. Pranski is talking about. Mr. Pranski referred to a comment which was stated by Solicitor Bernathy, “this is what happens when you open the floor”…he said that was a ridiculous comment. Solicitor Bernathy said Mr. Pranski is entitled to his opinion. He said he feels he is due respect as he gives Mr. Pranski respect. Mr. Pranski said he is giving respect and asked if he could finish. Mr. Pranski said to Solicitor Bernathy that he is the town Solicitor and his job is to advise the Supervisors and not to run the meetings and not to be a Supervisor. Solicitor Bernathy said he is not doing either. Mr. Pranski said he sure acts like it which is his opinion. Chairman Flansburg said that is enough.
Mike Barth said it was said that we have no control as far as the Police Department. Solicitor Bernathy said we have no control as far as operation, management, hiring, and firing. Mr. Barth questioned that we pay for it and have a commission with Supervisors on it but have no liability. These are the terms of the agreement which is a very common agreement for any regional police department. He said he can offer assurance that before the agreement was drafted we received consulting services and we also drafted the agreement as a result of a compilation of a number of other regionalization agreements that were working at that time.
Dayne Losee said he has heard twice tonight from Mr. Flansburg and Mr. Banach that this is a business. He said Mrs. Heater’s Polar Bear is a business and the Township of Westfall is not a business. He suggested they would be better off getting that thought right out of their heads. Chairman Flansburg said what he meant to say is that it was not a personal thing and it is something that we run. He said if it is not being run correctly and if there is something that inhibits us from running it correctly we need to work on that. Mr. Losee said that government is not business. Chairman Flansburg said he stands corrected and it would not be the first time. Supervisor Dotey said to tell that to Washington. Bill Schneider said if the Township were run like a business it would be much better off. Chairman Flansburg said thank you.
Mr. Bostinto said that Supervisor Banach is looking for ways to raise money. He said the Township has tangible assets which can be sold that would help the Township yet nothing has been addressed on this. The Township has a sewage treatment plant which is worth a lot of money, probably two million plus. Supervisor Dotey said there is a lot more involved in that than meets the eye. He said he thought that was a good idea at one point in time and has looked into it himself. He said since then he has obtained more information and it could be a large liability for the Township since we never lose the liability. Mr. Bostinto said not if it is sold. Supervisor Dotey said even if it is sold we would still be liable. Mr. Bostinto said that Mr. Osterberg is waiting for a phone call and wants to talk about this and the Supervisors have failed to call him. Solicitor Bernathy stated that he does not know that is the case. He asked Mr. Bostinto to please not allege things up and become argumentative. We are here to listen to what has to be said but keep it civil. Solicitor Bernathy told Mr. Bostinto that he cannot speak for Mr. Osterberg and that he is sure he can speak for himself. Mr. Bostinto said the opportunity is there to at least explore it. Mr. Schneider said the Sewage Treatment Plant owes about five million so if it was sold for 2 million it would be a loss. Mr. Bostinto said that is understood but he is saying there is a tangible asset. He said instead of taxing everyone to look at the issue. Mr. Schneider said we met with Matt Osterberg and Mr. Bostinto at the Sewage Treatment Plant. He went over the grants received by the plant. The Sewer Department provides some service to the town. He added that the township will always be responsible for sewage in the Township. The Sewer Authority also paved Rose Drive. There is also a reserve of 68,000 gallons for Katz.
ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at 7:27 pm on a motion by Supervisor Buchanan, seconded by Supervisor Dotey. Motion carried with all in favor.