Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA
June 2, 2014
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.
POLICE REPORT: Chad Stewart was present and gave the May, 2014 report. The monthly count of offenses known to police were 1 Robbery, 1 Assault, 1 Burglary, 18 larceny theft, 3 fraud, 2 recovery of stolen property, 3 vandalism, 3 drug abuse, 1 DUI, 2 public drunkenness, 5 disorderly conduct, and 4 all other offenses for a total of 43. The monthly count of persons charged for offenses are 10 larceny theft, 1 fraud, 1 recovery of stolen property, 1 vandalism, 2 drug abuse, 2 DUI, 4 public drunkenness, 1 disorderly conduct and 2 all other offenses for a total of 24. The miles patrolled for the month were 7,353. Year to date miles patrolled were 32,428. Motor Vehicle Accidents for the month were 19 and year to date 81. Calls for service for the month were 220 and year to date were 919. Chief Stewart said the breakdown for the two municipalities are in your packet. Vice Chairman Melvin said year to date 63% of calls were in Westfall. He said that number is slightly skewed due to the retail theft. He said for the month of May it was 60% but goes down a bit to 58.6% for Westfall. He said we can look back further to see the numbers. The box store thefts must be accounted for.
Supervisor Dotey moved to approve the Police Report. Motion was seconded by Supervisor Buchanan 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.
- Appointment of Two Committee Members-Regionalization Agreement discussions with Matamoras Council: Vice Chairman Melvin stated the letter from Matamoras reflected they would like two Supervisors who are not on the Police Commission so that rules out Chairman Flansburg and himself. Supervisor Banach said it also rules out Supervisor Buchanan since he was a Commissioner.
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.
- Proposed Earned Income Tax: Supervisor Buchanan said he and Supervisor Dotey attended the Act 47 Pre-Meeting. He said the Hearing will be June 9, 2014 at 6:00. He said Mr. Hendrickson from the Department of Community & Economic Development suggested this tax. Supervisor Buchanan said he also recommended to not withdraw from the Police Force. He turned the conversation over to the Board. Vice Chairman Melvin said he and Supervisor Banach do not agree on this subject. He said we are always struggling to find revenue and to relieve the actual tax payer. Vice Chairman Melvin then confirmed with Solicitor Melvin that 90%+ municipalities throughout the State of Pennsylvania have an Earned Income Tax in place. It is based on W-2 income. He said if someone lives in Westfall or works in Westfall they would be responsible for paying the tax. Seniors are exempt and some people struggling to keep their homes are exempt. He said people who are making more money pay a larger percent of the tax base. It is very controversial in the township since we do not have the numbers available. We will not know the numbers until the tax is implemented. Vice Chairman Melvin said it will not be to take in extra revenue it will be to swing the pendulum so that property taxes are not the sole basis of tax collection. He said some people are already paying the tax if they are working in other jurisdictions which charge the tax. We needed to obtain approval from the court this year for the millage we are at. He said that Judge Mark suggested this tax also. Vice Chairman Melvin said it is an option at this point and it is up for discussion. Supervisor Banach said the school will take half. Vice Chairman Melvin said that is only if the school chooses to collect from all of their Townships. Solicitor Bernathy said there were some estimates a few years back from Berkheimer. He said if we were to implement the tax at 1% it would generate roughly $400,000 for the Township. Mr. Pranski said that pays for the Police Department. Supervisor Banach said it is just a different form of taxation. He feels it is just another way to spend more money. He said he has been against it since 2008 since this has been brought up. Supervisor Banach said Ms. Robin is one of the people that took the Township to court to say to live within your means. He said this is his opinion and he has traveled through the State of Pennsylvania and there are not too many people happy with the EIT. There is another thing we have to look into with the County where taxes would be assessed on buildings and not property. This would be at the county level. He met with Lisa Baker to see about a county sales tax and it was kind of shot down. Supervisor Banach said this would create money through pass through. People that come through our town and use our services. He feels this is the best revenue to collect. Chairman Flansburg said that if someone works in Westfall and lives in a Township which collects the EIT the money goes to that township. The money goes to wherever the person resides. Mr. Pranski asked how the tax would be collected. Chairman Flansburg said it would be 1% out of every paycheck. Mr. Pranski asked if the money could be used for a specific purpose. Supervisor Banach said no. He said we have to pay Berkheimer to collect and manage the funds. Mr. Pranski asked about the letter he receives from Berkheimer now. Secretary Jodi Hulse said it is for Local Service Tax. Supervisor Banach said it is $1.00 per paycheck. Mr. Isaacson suggested that Westfall charge the Transaction Tax even if Matamoras does not agree. Supervisor Banach said the representative from the one of the cigarette and fireworks store said if the community next door does not impose the tax they will fight over pennies because they do such volume. Mr. Isaacson said he does not think it will make much difference. Vice Chairman Melvin said the business owners care. Vice Chairman Melvin said that Matamoras said they would talk to us about this and they would get a committee together to discuss the matter. Mr. Pranski said Matamoras was concerned with the amount of accounting involved. He suggested Westfall help with the accounting. Supervisor Buchanan said Mr. Hendrickson said one of the purposes of the EIT would be to reduce the property taxes. He said the first year will be difficult since we are not sure of the amount which will be collected but after that it should offset the property taxes. Supervisor Banach said there will be influx every year. There will still be both taxes. Vice Chairman Melvin said it will not get rid of property tax. Mrs. Banach said it will not excuse the school tax. It will excuse the County and Township tax. Vice Chairman Melvin said we are having this discussion so the public understands what the Earned Income Tax is all about. We are not voting on it tonight. He said these are things we need to think about to keep the town viable. Vice Chairman Melvin said he travels often and pays room taxes for staying in hotels. We have two beautiful hotels and we are not allowed to charge a tax. The money goes to the Pocono Bureau of Tourism. Every time we try to come up with an idea to alleviate the tax payers of Westfall we run into major obstacles. We are getting squeezed down to a few options to take the burden off of the residents and tax payers. Ms. Robin asked if the EIT has been on the agenda often over the past several months. It makes her nervous since it makes her think the Supervisors are gearing up for it. Vice Chairman Melvin said it is on the agenda since the DCED Representative brought it to Supervisor Buchanan and Supervisor Dotey’s attention at the meeting regarding Act 47. Solicitor Bernathy explained Act 47. Ms. Robin asked if the Supervisors are planning on working on the Transaction Tax with Matamoras. Vice Chairman Melvin said yes but he is concerned about legal opposition.
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.
- Proposed Franchise Tax: Solicitor Bernathy said there is an obligation for cable providers to pay a certain percentage to municipalities when they transmit their signal through municipal right of ways. It is a legal obligation and a contract we can require a cable provider to enter into. Solicitor Bernathy said he has negotiated a franchise tax with other municipalities which is represents. They can charge up to 3% as far as that tax is concerned. He said Westfall Township does not currently have a Franchise Tax and he is recommending the Supervisor move forward with a Franchise Tax. Solicitor Bernathy feels it is an income generator, is required by law, and is done in most other municipalities. The bad part is that the cable provider passes on the charge to those paying for their services. Ms. Brelje asked the cable provider in Westfall Township. Chairman Flansburg said it is Cable Vision. Mr. Bostinto asked if the Public Utilities Commission could be petitioned to require Cable Vision to provide voice services in Westfall. Solicitor Bernathy said we can make it part of our negotiations. There was discussion regarding Cable Vision Triple Play.
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.
- Start date for approved 3% employee pay increase: Vice Chairman Melvin said when we started the budget process last year most of the township employees had not received a salary increase in many years. He said the Township employees do not make a lot of money but do a really good job. They were out plowing the roads through the brutal winter we had. He said the Secretary is here every day. We budgeted in a 3% increase. Vice Chairman Melvin said there were some extra benefit costs so we decided to delay the salary increase to a later time in the year so some of the money could be recouped to pay for the benefits. He recommended September 1, 2014 for the increase date. Chairman Flansburg suggested June 1, 2014 since it is the half way year mark. Vice Chairman Melvin said the September 1, 2014 date would allow for the benefit increases to be covered fully. He said he could live with July 1, 2014 since 3% is not a lot of money. Chairman Flansburg said he would like to see the increase happen July 1, 2014.
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.
- Proposed Driveway Maintenance Ordinance: Mr. Hess addressed the Board and said it was his understanding that curbs could not be put in the township right of way. Solicitor Bernathy said we discussed this at the workshop meeting and this is standard according to the Township Engineer. Mr. Hess said it is not standard to Westfall Township. Solicitor Bernathy said that he is not aware of any ordinance provisions that prohibit it. Mr. Hess said that the fireworks store curbing is set way back. Mr. Schneider said the curbing can be removed if the Supervisors wish. He said he would like to see how it works out in the winter and if it is a problem the Supervisor may need to have it removed. Mrs. Hess said she is concerned more about the water runoff at this point. Mr. Hess said if you look at the water runoff at Smokers Choice is going right across the road. Solicitor Bernathy said we discussed this at the workshop and we are engaged in some speculation here and the work is not complete at the site. If there is runoff which is in violation of the approved plans there will be enforcement issues. Solicitor Bernathy said if there is a trespass of water on the Hess property there may be a private cause of action against the owners of Smokers Choice in addition to the township action. Mrs. Hess asked if she has to deal with this and not the Township. Solicitor Bernathy said first things first. The construction is not complete. Mrs. Hess said the blacktop is down and the curbing is installed. Solicitor Bernathy said there is no trespass of water as we speak. If there is a trespass of water it would have to be a result of faulty engineering or construction not in accord with approved plans. Supervisor Banach suggested that Mr. Hudak come and look at the area. Supervisor Dotey said he did look at it. Supervisor Dotey said he thinks it looks like it is sticking out too far. Mr. Hess said the fireworks store by the firehouse is set back and the blacktop comes out to the road but the curbing is set back. He said the cigarette store’s curbing is in the right of way.
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.
- North East Pennsylvania Alliance-renewal of dues membership: Tabled
- Pike County Power and Light Street Light Portal Agreement-Appointment of Robert Howard as Municipal Administrator and Jodi Hulse as Assistant Municipal Administrator: A motion was made by Vice Chairman Melvin to appoint Robert Howard as Municipal Administrator and Jodi Hulse as Assistant Municipal Administrator. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carried with all in favor.
- Complaint from Christina Robin-Henchel Road Drainage Issue: Ms. Robin addressed the Board and said she lives on Henchel Road which is a public road. The Board questioned Henchel Road being a public road. Ms. Robin said there are three types of roads, public, private or township. She said the public road is maintained by the public which means that the people who live on the road maintain it. Solicitor Bernathy said subject to a maintenance agreement. Ms. Robin said it is an old grandfathered law and the public maintains the road. Solicitor Bernathy said that he does not believe this is the case. Ms. Robin told Solicitor Bernathy to get the book and that she is not talking to him. She said she is talking to the Supervisors. She said there is land on the corner of Heaters Hill and Henchel Road. There is a driveway that goes from Heaters Hill Road into the lot. The owner then built another driveway which goes onto Henchel Road. She said this road which he built blocked the drainage system and when there are heavy rains it washes out her road. Ms. Robin is asking that the Township require the person who put the illegal driveway in, take it out. She said she tried speaking to the property owner and that did not work. She said Mr. Schneider said he spoke to the man several times and he kind of agreed to have the driveway taken out and to have the road put back the way it was. She said she is asking for help. Mr. Schneider provided a map and Ms. Robin explained it to the Board. Supervisor Banach said it is private property where the driveway is located. He said it is actually a legal issue which Ms. Robin has with her neighbors. Ms. Robin asked if anyone in town can put a driveway wherever they wish. Supervisor Banach said it is a driveway on private property. Ms. Robin said the road is not private, it is public. Supervisor Banach said it is no different than a development similar to Milford Landing. The Township cannot go in there are make someone change their driveway. Ms. Robin said there are laws about building driveways onto public roads. She asked Mr. Schneider to bring out the book. Mr. Schneider said he is not sure which book Ms. Robin’s is referring. Supervisor Banach said it is a private road that is open to the public. Ms. Robin said no one can put a driveway in wherever they want. There are zoning and engineering reports which need to be done. Doug Olmstead said from a zoning standpoint, unless the driveway is coming out onto a Township road, which is stated in the Zoning Ordinance, he has no control over issuing a driveway permit. He said in his thirty five years of engineering has never seen a “public road”. Ms. Robin said she was at the county building and that is where this was explained to her. She said she was at the highway department when Ken Thiele worked there and there is a yellow book which states the laws. Chairman Flansburg asked Solicitor Bernathy if he has ever heard of a public road as opposed to a private road. Solicitor Bernathy said his understanding is that the Township does not have any responsibility for a private road. Ms. Robin said Mr. Bernathy has never been to her house and has no idea where she lives. Solicitor Bernathy said he does not need to know. He knows it is a private road. Ms. Robin said again it is a public road. Mr. Schneider explained that Henchel road for years has drained down onto the township road and there is drainage there to handle it. He presented some photos to the Board. He said this is a problem area. He said he spoke to Mr. Lamac who owns part of the road regarding going onto his property to divert the water. Ms. Robin referred to one of the photos and said the damage is being done by an illegal driveway. She said the Township is constantly fixing this part of the road. The fire truck could not get to her house when her chimney caught fire. She stated one of her neighbors had to be carried to the ambulance since the ambulance could not drive to her house. Ms. Robin said it is jeopardizing our lives and our homes. She said she cannot do anything independently. Mr. Schneider said we received documentation from Mr. Lamac which authorized the Township to go onto his property to work on the road. Chairman Flansburg asked Mr. Schneider if the water would eventually get back to the Township road. Mr. Schneider said if we build the proper drainage he does not think so. Supervisor Banach said there are many water issues throughout the Township. He said Ms. Robin is asking the Township to go onto private property and fix an issue with Township dollars. Ms. Robin asked if the Supervisor would table this issue and she will provide the public road law. She said in the mean time she would like the Board to know that the culvert which is at the end of her road makes her entrance on eight and one half feet wide. Fire Trucks and Ambulances cannot get up the road. She said the police cars had trouble getting up the road this past winter. Mr. Schneider said he did not build that drain. He said there is a box culvert there where it crosses the road. Chairman Flansburg asked Mr. Schneider if this could be addressed. He said anything can be addressed. The Supervisor make the decisions but then everyone will be wanting their driveways to be widened at the Township’s expense. He said we are working on Heaters Hill with stabilization with gabion baskets. Supervisor Dotey said he feels that Ms. Robin has a legitimate complaint that needs to be looked at closer. Ms. Robin said she will provide her deed, the book and a definition of a public road.
The issue was tabled until the July 7, 2014 meeting.
- Proposed Sidewalk Maintenance Ordinance: Mr. Schneider said there is about 20 feet of sidewalk in the township right of way at the Smokers Choice Store. He believes if there is no Sidewalk Ordinance in place it is up to the Township to maintain the sidewalk.
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.
- Proposed Joint Authority Ordinance: A motion was made by Supervisor Banach to approve Solicitor Bernathy to provide a draft for Joint Authority Ordinance. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Buchanan and carried with all in favor.
- Letter to Police Commission: A motion was made by Supervisor Banach to approve Solicitor Bernathy to send a letter to the Police Commission regarding the discussion pertaining to litigation during the executive session which was held prior to the meeting. The motion was seconded by Chairman Flansburg and carried with three in favor and two in opposition. Chairman Flansburg, Supervisor Banach and Supervisor Dotey were in favor. Supervisor Buchanan and Vice Chairman Melvin were in opposition.
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.