The Westfall Township Planning Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm has been cancelled due to lack of an agenda.
Jodi Hulse, Secretary
The Westfall Township Planning Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm has been cancelled due to lack of an agenda.
Jodi Hulse, Secretary
Notice is hereby given that the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors shall hold a Special Meeting on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm. The purpose of the meeting is to consider the township’s status as a financially distressed municipality. The meeting will be held at the Westfall Township Municipal Building located at 102 LaBarr Lane, Matamoras, Westfall Township, PA 18336. All Township residents are invited to attend.
The Westfall Township Planning Meeting scheduled for Thursday, October 9, 2014 has been cancelled due to a lack of an agenda.
Jodi Hulse, Secretary
September 2, 2014
The regular meeting of the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors was held Tuesday, September 2, 2014. The meeting started at 7:01 pm and was held at the Township Building on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, Westfall Township.
Those present were Vice Chairman, Robert Melvin; Supervisors; Raymond Banach (by speaker phone), 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 Chad Stewart; Assistant Chief Stewart, Edward Isaacson, Chuck Pranski, Tom Lamb, John Dalton, Tina Hess, Roland McDonald, Marge Tonkin and approximately 25 members of the general public.
Chairman Larry Flansburg was not present.
Vice Chairman Melvin called the meeting to order and asked if there were any changes to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA: Supervisor Banach added #12 to “New Business” which is a “Freedom of Information” request from the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission. Supervisor Banach also requested the addition of the status of the motion made at the June 23, 2014 meeting. Solicitor Bernathy said that would be addressed in executive session. Vice Chairman Melvin added #13 to “New Business” which is Resolution 2014-15 to approve the transfer of Liquor License R21269 from Dingman Township to Westfall Township. Supervisor Buchanan removed #1 from “New Business”. Vice Chairman Melvin added “Notice of Intent” as #14 to “New Business”. A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the Agenda. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carries with all in favor.
Vice Chairman Melvin said there was an Executive Session held on August 4, 2014 for the purpose of litigation. He said there was also an Executive Session held before the meeting for the purpose of litigation and personnel.
PUBLIC COMMENT: Marge Tonkin addressed the Board and asked if the Township has an ordinance on file regarding loitering and soliciting. Vice Chairman Melvin did not believe the Township has one since this was discussed two years ago. Solicitor Bernathy said there were some proposals to consider an ordinance which was discussed in planning. Ms. Tonkin said she is very concerned. She said there are people coming into the township and sitting on Route 84 and asking for money. She also encountered someone at Price Chopper recently asking for money. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed that it was not a non-profit organization asking for money. Supervisor Buchanan said it is a panhandler. Ms. Tonkin said she lives right near Route 84 and there is nothing stopping these people from walking down the street and knocking on her door. She said two weekends ago there was a man stabbed at the Welcome Center. She feels the Township needs something in place. She is worried. Supervisor Buchanan asked Chief Stewart if this would be covered under criminal proceeding. Chief Stewart said there is nothing on soliciting. Solicitor Bernathy said as long as they are not obstructing traffic he does not know if the police can do anything. Ms. Tonkin said something could be done if a law was made. Solicitor Bernathy said we would then have an ordinance to enforce. He said we have talked about this before and drafted an ordinance some time ago. Ms. Tonkin suggested the Board reconsider for the protection of the people of the Township. Solicitor Bernathy said he will provide the draft to the Supervisors. Edward Isaacson asked if there are any state laws. Solicitor Bernathy said no. Mr. Isaacson said that if the people are on the ramp then that is state property. Solicitor Bernathy said if they are not obstructing traffic they are not in violation. He said if there were laws they would be enforced. Ms. Tonkin said they usually just sit on the guard rail. Vice Chairman Melvin said the Supervisors will revisit this at the next workshop. He said it was proposed but there were issues with loitering at football games. Chief Stewart said it is something the township could definitely use. Supervisor Dotey agreed. Doug Olmstead said that someone asked him for money outside Wendy’s restaurant just today. Supervisor Dotey said two weeks ago the same thing happened to him. Solicitor Bernathy said the business usually have their own policy and this could be handled privately. There was additional conversation regarding this matter. Ms. Tonkin said over the years she has had people come to her door for different reasons. All of the Supervisors agreed to have Solicitor Bernathy provide a draft ordinance. Supervisor Buchanan said it is a matter of trespass on private property.
Chuck Pranski addressed the board with a question regarding Supervisor Banach calling in. He asked if Supervisor Banach is calling the Township Building or is the office calling him. He questioned who is paying the bill. Solicitor Bernathy thought we answered this question already. Supervisor Banach said he can answer the question. He said he has donated his salary since he has been a Supervisor since 2008. He added that if he did call in he is saving the township money. Supervisor Banach suggested Mr. Pranski call the state representative if he does not like it. He said it is 100% legal. Mr. Pranski said he is asking a question and there is no need to get upset. Supervisor Banach said he is not upset. He is on a speaker phone at his office working so he is talking loud.
Mr. Pranski asked if the ethic statements for all of the Supervisors are readily available so that he could obtain copies after the meeting. Solicitor Bernathy said Mr. Pranski could make a record inspection request for the documents. Mr. Pranski said it is supposed to be readily available. Solicitor Bernathy said he does not have any problem producing it but he does not think it is privileged at all and if a records requested is submitted it will be honored. Mr. Pranski asked if it would be honored tonight. Solicitor Bernathy said he does not think it could be processed that quickly but it would be provided within the confines of the law once the request is submitted. We have five days to respond. Mr. Pranski said “no you don’t” it is not a Freedom of Information request. He said it is supposed to be available for immediate inspection if someone comes in to the township building. Solicitor Bernathy asked Mr. Pranski to make a records inspection request. Mr. Pranski said he is asking him to do something that he does not have to do. Solicitor Bernathy said he does not feel the information is privileged and he is asking him to make a request and the information will be provided. He asked Mr. Pranski to follow procedure. Mr. Pranski said according to the state he does not have to do that. Solicitor Bernathy said, once again, if Mr. Pranski would like to show him he would take a look at it. Until then, he asked Mr. Pranski to do the same as everyone else and fill out the records request form. Mr. Pranski agreed and said he will to Solicitor Bernathy’s route. Solicitor Bernathy felt the request would be honored quickly.
Mr. Pranski said that Solicitor Bernathy said there were certain exemptions to the rule of a Supervisor having to reside in the township. Solicitor Bernathy said that he said it was fact based and that his understanding of the residency requirements and that Supervisor can choose to live outside of the jurisdiction as long as it is not for the primary part of the year. So if it is temporary, which his understanding is that it was, there are no violations. He said the Supervisors are not required to maintain a residence on a 365 day a year basis in the township. The Supervisors are required to primarily reside in the township and there is no reason for him to believe that is not the case. Mr. Pranski said okay. Solicitor Bernathy said if Mr. Pranski would like to bring something to his attention that he is not aware of to do so. Mr. Pranski said he will.
Mr. Pranski said his last question is regarding the “elephant in the room” which is that the Township is being sued again. Mr. Pranski asked, regarding the Dombrosky case, if the insurance company submitted a bill to the township to recoup any monies they spent. Solicitor Bernathy said he would have to look into this. Mr. Pranski asked if he could have an answer by the next month’s meeting. Solicitor Bernathy said certainly but he was not the attorney for that litigation. Mr. Pranski said according to the paper Solicitor Bernathy was the attorney in 2008 and you were sending letters stating an executive session would be held. Solicitor Bernathy said once litigation is in place the township hires attorneys to represent the township. He said his point is that he was not the attorney representing the township for that litigation. Mr. Pranski said his concern is that they tried to recoup the money and the township forced the insurance company into a corner.
Tom Lamb asked a question pertaining to the stabbing at the Welcome Center. He asked the reason for the local cops having to wait for the State Troopers to respond to a call at that location. Chief Stewart said the primary jurisdiction is the State Police as part of the interstate system. There was additional discussion regarding jurisdiction. Chief Stewart said in this case the victim went to Smokers Choice across the street to make the call. Vice Chairman confirmed with Chief Stewart they were called by 911 since the victim was in their primary jurisdiction. Chief Stewart said the incident was at the Welcome Center and the State Police responded in approximately one half hour to forty minutes. Assistant Chief Stewart said they had the person contained and waited for the State Police. They did the search and took the person into custody. There was additional conversation held regarding jurisdiction. Mr. Pranski said it took forty five minutes for the State Police to respond for someone who was stabbed. He said the response time for just a prowler would be much longer. Supervisor Banach suggested Secretary Jodi Hulse look up the original agreement with PennDOT when the Welcome Center was built. He also suggested to speak with Tina Hess who was on the Planning Board at the time. He said a State Trooper was to be assigned to the Welcome Center on a twenty four hour basis. This was part of the deal when the center was built and the traffic light being installed. Supervisor Banach suggested sending a letter to the State Police. He said especially now with the construction taking place. Vice Chairman Melvin asked Secretary Hulse to look into this. Tina Hess said Supervisor Banach is absolutely correct. There was supposed to be a State Trooper there all of the time. She said on the plan there was a room especially for the State Trooper. Mr. Pranski said maintenance uses the room. Mr. Isaacson said there are four State Troopers on duty for the whole county. Two in each car. He does not thing they will spare one for the Welcome Center. Vice Chairman Melvin said we must ask since it was part of the conditions.
John Dalton addressed the Board. He said back in June he wrote a letter to the Supervisors regarding designing a spreadsheet for the budget and at the conclusion of the letter he stated he awaits the Supervisor favorable decision. He asked if the Supervisors have talked about this amongst themselves or if they would like to put it off for another time. Vice Chairman Melvin said he and Supervisor Dotey will be meeting with Scott Myer to do some preliminary budget talks after September 15, 2014. Once we figure out anticipated costs and revenue we will figure out if we need the spread sheet. Mr. Dalton said it takes time to design something like this and he was hoping to get a head start before the 15th of September. He was asking for everything that went into the 2012 and 2013 to build a spreadsheet to go into 2014. There is not much information in terms of accrued costs. He would use the BLS information and it would help going into 2015. Mr. Dalton said that is what he would use if it would help. Vice Chairman Melvin said he will get back to Mr. Dalton.
August 4, 2014 Regular Meeting Minutes: A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the minutes. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
August 18, 2014 Joint Meeting Minutes: Tabled-not completed yet.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Scott Myer gave the report. The report was through the end of August, 2014. He said the income year to date is at 1,589,000.00 which is above budget. Real Estate Tax collection are at 100% of budget. Mr. Myer said that Zoning/Building Income is $43,000 over budget. He said from an income stand point we are right in line with budget. Mr. Myer said confirmed with Vice Chairman Melvin we will need a Tax Anticipation Note in January. Solicitor Bernathy said he will start the process with the judge for a Tax Anticipation Note in the amount of $125,000.00.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the Treasurer’s Report. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
The total miles patrolled for the month were 5,483 and year to date 50,363. The total motor vehicle accidents for the month were 16 and year to date 131. Total calls for service for the month were 239 and year to date 1,614. Chief Stewart said the breakdown for the municipalities is in the packets.
Chief Stewart addressed the bridge construction on Routes 6 and 209. He said they will be installing beams on Friday therefore the road will be shut down causing delays. The delays may be extended until Monday. Chief Stewart said he inquired regarding emergency vehicles and school buses and he is awaiting a call back. He said once he hears something he will email Secretary Jodi Hulse. There was additional discussion regarding the road closure.
Chief Stewart addressed the Doug Miller Road situation. He said last month the Supervisors asked him to check on this road. He installed a radar recorder on Doug Miller Road for speed evaluations. Technically there is no speed limit posted on Doug Miller Road. He referred to the evaluation which he provided to the Supervisors. It was based on 25 mph speed limit and a 10 mph tolerance. He explained the data sheet. There were 7 vehicles going 65 mph plus. He said the monitor was there from August 21, 2014 through August 27, 2014. There was no pattern noted on the data. Chief Stewart said it could be the same vehicle traveling at high speed. He said if we can obtain information regarding who the driver is, we will stop at the residence and have a conversation with the individual. Supervisor Dotey asked if a camera could be installed to photograph the license plate. Chief Stewart said the department does not own a camera and if they did they would use it. Supervisor Dotey said he lives up there and he will keep an eye out for the speeder. Chief Stewart said the question was raised last month and he wanted to make sure he addressed it. Vice Chairman Melvin thanked Chief Stewart.
Chuck Pranski asked Chief Stewart if Doug Miller Road is a town road and if it was the responsibility of the Township to post it. Chief Stewart said yes and an engineer study would need to be done. Supervisor Buchanan said it is quite expensive and it is not as easy as just slapping up the signs. Mr. Pranski said in other towns there is a speed limit posted, unless otherwise posted. Chief Stewart said that is usually not the case in rural areas. Solicitor Bernathy said that is in dense areas only.
A motion was made by Supervisor Banach to approve the police report. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
FIRE DEPARTMENT: The Mill Rift Fire Department Report was given for August, 2014 by Edward Isaacson. The report was as follows:
August, 2014: 8/04/14-Mutual Aid-Sparrow Bush-Canoer stuck on cliff; 8/09/14 Public Service Y Camp-Milford Township-Display Apparatus Engine 2; 8/12/14 Monthly Meeting; 8/13/14- Work Night-National Park Service –Place life jacket awareness signs at boat launches along river; 8/16/14-Mutual Aid-39 fire on I-84-Tanker 1; 8/16/14 –Mutual Aid-Sparrow Bush-34 Support; 08/16/14-Coin Toss 34 Support; 8/21/14- Tree on wires Delaware Drive-Tanker 1; 8/21/14 Training Center Retention and Recruitment in fire service; 8/23/14 and 8/24/14- Coin Toss-Engine 2, Tanker 1, 34 Support; 8/27/14-Work Night-Pumper to tanker shuttle drill-Engine 2-Tanker 1; 8/30/14-Mutual Aid Sparrow Bush-Rafters lost on Delaware 34 Support; 8/30/14 & 8/31/14-Coin Toss Engine 2, Tanker 1, 34 Support. The total funds for coin toss for the month of August were 1,881.75
Total Man Hours: 163.25; Total Equipment Hours: 147.50 and Total Man Hours for the Year: 1,195
Mr. Isaacson said there were three cameras donated to the department. He brought it with him so that the Supervisors could look at it after the meeting.
Mr. Isaacson said there is one other issue. He said there was a relief audit and it revealed that in 2011 the department was not given their share of the money. Tom Lamb told Mr. Isaacson that has already been discussed and to let it go for now. Mr. Isaacson said he was just making the Supervisors aware that for some reason they did not receive their relief money and for some reason it went all to Westfall.
Mr. Pranski said thank you to all of the residents who donated. They had a fund raiser for three weekends in a row to benefit from the canoe livery customers.
Supervisor Dotey asked Mr. Isaacson if the new super boat was used in the river rescues. Mr. Isaacson said no. They are in the process of making some repairs to the equipment. He said hopefully by next summer. They are having some issues since it is difficult to maneuver. Mr. Pranski said the boat hovers approximately one foot off of the water and is difficult to maneuver. He added there were six boats aready waiting to get in the water when they arrived.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to accept the Mill Rift Fire Department Report. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
A representative of The Westfall Township Fire Department was not present.
HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT: Bill Schneider gave the report for August, 2014. The department installed culvert pipes on Heaters Hill. They have been mowing the Township Right of Ways and maintaining the property at the Township Building and the compost area. Street sign installation and shoulder work has been done. Spreaders were sent out for service and repair. They have been completing maintenance on equipment. There were many trees down after the bad storm that hit. The department cleaned up trees on Heaters Hill and Pond Drive. Mr. Schneider said it took four days for cleanup from the storm and shoulder repair. They had manpower throughout the night. The department assisted Matamoras for one day with the storm cleanup. They were hit badly. Mr. Schneider said the battery backup systems worked great on the street lights. They ran for fifteen hours which helped with traffic flow through the area. He said we received reimbursement from the Pike County Commissioners and the Pocono Mountain Vacation Bureau for the battery backup system on Stella Street. Mr. Schneider thanked the Police Department and the Mill Rift Fire Department for their help during the storm.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to accept the highway report. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
BUILDING/ZONING REPORT: Doug Olmstead gave the report for August, 2014. He said there were three building permits issued which generated $13,657.38 in fees. There were no Zoning Permits which generated any fees for the month.
A motion was made by Supervisor Banach to accept the building/zoning report. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Buchanan and carried with all in favor.
CORRESPONDENCE: On desk for review.
Solicitor Bernathy got back to the law regarding bids received by the township. He read the section of the law regarding contracts. The Board of Supervisor may reject all bids received if it may be in the best interest of the township and at public meeting. He said the reason for the rejections should be announced and noted in minutes. He confirmed with Supervisor Buchanan the bids can be opened and rejected if the Supervisors wish. Mr. Schneider said the only thing with opening the bids is that if the job is bid again it lets the others know the bid amounts. Supervisor Buchanan said the state gave the estimate of cost so we can compare the bids to that amount. There was additional discussion regarding procedure of receiving bids. Mr. Schneider said it was advertised in a way so that we can accept a partial bid. The Supervisors agreed to open the bids which were submitted. Vice Chairman Melvin recited the following bids received:
Wayco, Inc. bid for paving Cummins Hill Road and Bluestone Blvd: $92,150.51
Wayco, Inc. bid for double seal coat (tar and chip) Bluestone Blvd: $13,653.78
Pocono Spray Patching, Inc. for double seal coat (tar and chip) Bluestone Blvd: $13,688.18
There was discussion regarding the bids and how much money is in the budget. Scott Myer said the total budget is $120,000 for the road projects but the battery backup funds came out of the account. He said there is roughly $110,000 left in the account. Mr. Schneider said the estimate sounds a little high but that could be because the cost of black top is up. Supervisor Buchanan said we can let this go until next year since the paving product is so expensive. It could be cheaper next year. Supervisor Dotey said his concern is Bluestone Blvd. That road is really rough and he does not know how it will be plowed this winter. Mr. Schneider said they can do base repair. Supervisor Banach said if we wait another year it will be double the price to fix it next year. There was additional discussion. Mr. Schneider said that hopefully next year there will be just tar and chipping needed since the roads will then be in pretty good shape. The money is in the budget each year for paving. Vice Chairman Melvin said if we do not spend it next year we will not have to collect if for next year. Supervisor Dotey suggested to move forward and do the paving and double seal coating.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to award both bids to Wayco, Inc. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
Supervisor Banach suggested that Supervisor Buchanan change the motion to a 90 day extension. Supervisor Buchanan said he and Supervisor Dotey have had the first committee meeting and it went well. He feels we should continue with the negotiations as normal. He did not agree with Supervisor Banach’s suggestion.
The motion carried with three in favor and one opposition. Supervisor Banach was in opposition.
There was applause from the crowd. Mr. Pranski thanked Supervisor Dotey for standing up and doing the right thing.
Supervisor Banach said the reason being is that the last time this happened Matamoras stopped negotiating with us. Vice Chairman Melvin said Supervisor Dotey and Supervisor Buchanan said there were some good faith discussions which were moving along with fruitful discussion on changes. Supervisor Dotey said significant things were discussed and there was a positive response to them. He thinks it is well worth while to move forward on this.
Supervisor Banach was curious to know if there are any grants available to help with the building repairs. There was discussion regarding the availability of grants.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to accept the bid presented to him by Mr. Lamb to accept the Bid for the underlayment and architectural shingle application.
Mr. Schneider asked if more quotes will be accepted. Solicitor Bernathy said no since it is under $10,000. Mr. Salvati suggested obtaining a quote from Mr. Lamb for the spray insulation and maybe the whole job would come in under $10,000. Supervisor Buchanan said we can do the insulation as a separate job. Mr. Schneider said there are other contractors who want to bid on the job. He presented the specification sheet so that the Supervisors could approve the specs for advertising for estimates. Supervisor Buchanan said we do not have to. Mr. Schneider said he understands that but that is not the way it was presented. He said contractors should have a chance to give quotes.
The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey. The motion did not carry with two in favor and two opposed. Vice Chairman Melvin and Supervisor Banach were in opposition.
Solicitor Bernathy said to advertise the specifications and have the qualified and responsible contractors call in by telephone.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to advertise the specifications for the highway department roof replacement. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Banach and carried with all in favor.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to accept the PennDOT Winter Municipal Agreement. The motion was made by Vice Chairman Melvin and carried with all in favor.
upervisor Banach asked Mr. Schneider if PennDOT allows the Township to get the plow steel edge. Mr. Schneider said that was discontinued.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the purchase of the pipe to have on site in case of an emergency situation. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to approve the Liquor License Transfer-Resolution 2014-15. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with three in favor and one opposition. Vice Chairman Melvin and Supervisors Buchanan and Dotey were in favor. Supervisor Banach was opposed since he did not attend the public hearing.
Solicitor Bernathy said the owners are the same as the business at the Milford Farms in Milford. Their business is primarily take out related to beer and malt beverages only. Liquor and wine sales are prohibited. It is conditioned upon 95% of their business being the sale of malt and beer beverages. The applicant indicated that most of their sales is take out and they do not encourage people to sit in but it is permitted if they choose. Some limited food is also served.
Mr. Pranski asked the purpose of the notice. Solicitor Bernathy said there was a notice forwarded to his office indicating there is potential for litigation to be instituted against the township and as a result of this we need to provide our insurance carrier with notice of the intent. It was not litigation but Solicitor Bernathy took the correspondence of being a notice of claim and pursuant to the terms of our insurance policy a notice of claim needs to be forwarded to our insurance carrier. Mr. Pranski said the Pocono Record reported it as that the township was being countersued at this point. Supervisor Buchanan said this is a different matter. Mr. Pranski asked what the township is being litigated against now. Solicitor Bernathy said there is no litigation but a notice of claim. Mr. Pranski asked the purpose for the notice of claim. Solicitor Bernathy said it is a notice of claim brought by Eric Stewart through his attorneys in Scranton for defamation of character.
Vice Chairman Melvin said that concludes our meeting. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed there is no subdivision review or action. Mr. Pranski asked if there would be an executive session. Vice Chairman Melvin said there was an executive session held prior to the meeting. Supervisor Banach asked if Solicitor Bernathy would be talking about the June 23, 2014 meeting in executive session. Mr. Pranski asked if the Supervisors went into an executive session earlier in the evening. Supervisor Buchanan confirmed and said it was announced earlier in the meeting. Vice Chairman Melvin said he added this earlier in the meeting.
Mr. Schneider said that Mrs. Gordon from Pond Eddy had stopped by the office. She is a resident of Westfall Township. She is concerned about the emergency access to Pond Eddy since the bridge is closed and there is no longer a way to get down the railroad tracks to Pond Eddy. Once there was access by Parkers Glen and down to Mill Rift. The access is now closed. There is no access for emergency vehicles now that the bridge is closed. Mr. Pranski said Lumberland got their ambulance stuck in that location. Vice Chairman Melvin asked if there is access from the railroad. Mr. Pranski said the road is washed out up there. Supervisor Buchanan asked the solution to the problem. Discussion took place. Mr. Schneider said in the case of a power outage due to fallen trees, he is not sure how Orange and Rockland will gain access to the area.
Vice Chairman Melvin said the Supervisors will now go into executive session. A few people in the audience questioned this since it was just announced there would be no executive session to follow the meeting. Vice Chairman Melvin said we will hold another executive session since it was added to the agenda by Supervisor Banach regarding the June 23, 2014 meeting. Solicitor Bernathy said Supervisor Banach requested this during the meeting and he hopes everyone was paying attention during the meeting. Mr. Pranski said he just asked that question and the answer was no. He said to Solicitor Bernathy not to look at him and say “I hope you were paying attention”. Solicitor Bernathy said Supervisor Banach requested it during the meeting. Mr. Pranski said there is no reason to belittle him that way. Vice Chairman Melvin requested Mr. Pranski to relax. Mr. Pranski said he has been polite and respectful. Solicitor Bernathy said to Mr. Pranski that he has not been respectful. Mr. Pranski, noticeably angry, said “yes I have”. Solicitor Bernathy said Mr. Pranski is not being respectful now. He said to Mr. Pranski there is no reason for him to raise his voice. Mr. Pranski said there is a reason since he treats him like a piece of “Sh*t”. Solicitor Bernathy said there is no reason for Mr. Pranski to use profanity. He said if he continues to act this way he will ask that Mr. Pranski be removed from the meeting. Mr. Pranski said “really, go ahead and ask”. Solicitor Bernathy said to Mr. Pranski that he is being out of order. There was additional heated discussion regarding the conversation of executive session. Mr. Pranski said to Solicitor Bernathy that he should pay attention. Mr. Pranski said he will not put up with Solicitor Bernathy speaking down to him. He yelled at Solicitor Bernathy stating that he is not a Supervisor and that he is the town Solicitor and it is not his place to talk down to people. Solicitor Bernathy said this is not kindergarten. Vice Chairman Melvin once again suggested that Mr. Pranski calm down. Mr. Pranski yelled at Solicitor Bernathy “come on, Bob, get the last word in”. Solicitor Bernathy said he is asking Mr. Pranski to be civil and that is all.
Supervisor Buchanan asked if there will be any decisions coming out of executive session. Solicitor Bernathy said the executive session will be about the special meeting which was held on June 23, 2014. He does not believe so but he is not sure what Supervisor Banach will inquire about. Solicitor Bernathy suggested the public wait until the executive session is over. Mr. Pranski said he will stick around.
SUBDIVISION ACTION AND REVIEW: None
EXECTUIVE SESSION: An executive session was called at 9:09 pm for the purposes of litigation. The meeting was back in session at 9:13 pm.
No additional business was conducted and no decisions were made.
ADJOURNMENT: Meeting was adjourned at 9:13 p.m. on a motion by Supervisor Buchanan. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor. Supervisor Banach did not vote since he was no longer on speaker phone.
Joint Budget Workshop Meeting-Westfall Township, Matamoras Borough and Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission
A Joint Meeting between the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors, The Matamoras Borough Council and The Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission was held Monday, August 18, 2014 at 7:00 pm. The meeting was held at the Westfall Township Municipal Building located at 102 LaBarr Lane, Westfall Township, PA.
Those present were Vice Chairman Robert Melvin, Supervisors Raymond Banach (by speaker phone), Lester Buchanan, and Jerry Dotey; Mayor Janet Clark, Councilmen David Clark, Kevin Rose, Pete Sigreto, and Dayne Losee; Councilwoman, Joann Featherman; Solicitors Robert Bernathy, Eric Hamill, and Thomas Mincer; Secretaries Jodi Hulse, Nancy Buchanan and Barbara Gilette; Kevin Salvati, Chad Stewart, Eric Stewart and approximately 9 members of the general public.
Chairman Larry Flansburg and President Joseph Sain were not present.
Presentation and discussion of the 2015 Eastern Pike Regional Police Budget:
Vice Chairman Melvin thanked everyone for attending the meeting. He said this meeting is to fulfill the request of the change to the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department Regionalization agreement schedule. The meeting is to present the proposed police department budget to the Borough of Matamoras and the Township of Westfall. Vice Chairman Melvin said this is a workshop between Matamoras, Westfall and the Police Commission. There is no public comment on the agenda. The focus of the meeting is the police department budget. He said the budget presented has been the proposed budget for the past couple of years. Vice Chairman Melvin stated that for the last three years (2012, 2013 & 2014) Westfall Township has contributed $385,655.00. Matamoras has been contributing $341,996.00 for 2012, 2013 & 2014. He said there is an increase in the proposed budget. The increase is $55,171.00 for Westfall and $48,926.00 for Matamoras. The increase includes the addition of one full time officer and some costs for Worker’s Compensation Insurance that have been growing over time. He said he did some numbers and the compound growth rate that we had since 2009. The total police budget has been growing roughly 2.5 % per year since 2009 which is not an out of control number. If we were to continue to be flat year to year where we have been for the past three years we would be at a 2.1% compounded annual growth rate from 2009 through 2015. That is really tight and the department needs additional money to cover the additional officer and some additional costs. If the proposed budget is approved by the municipality and the borough the compound annual growth rate from 2009 to 2015 is 4%. The year to year increase would be 14.3%. Vice Chairman Melvin said we want to be transparent and show all of the numbers. There are no secrets here. He said the numbers book which Matamoras and Westfall both have, shows detailed numbers by line item. It is all there to be taken back to the individual boards to discuss the budgets.
Vice Chairman Melvin asked if there were any questions. Supervisor Buchanan asked if the new police officer would be an addition to the department or a replacement. Chief Chad Stewart said it would be to replace an officer that left in 2011. He said we used that salary for raises in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Councilman Clark confirmed with Chief Stewart the 3% salary increases for the officers. Councilwoman Featherman asked how many full time officers are employed by the department currently. He said nine full time and three part time. Councilwoman Featherman said she noticed the department went from two sergeants to one in 2013. She asked if there were any proposed promotions. Chief Stewart said no. Supervisor Buchanan asked if the three part time officers included the one who is leaving. Chief Stewart said three is current. Vice Chairman Melvin asked how the department is doing covering shifts with the nine full time and three part time officers. Chief Stewart said the Assistant Chief does the scheduling. Assistant Chief Eric Stewart said he is actually been moving schedules around to prevent creating overtime and to remain within the current budget. He said the numbers have gone down substantially since the start of the department in 2008 in regards to part time officers. We are down to three now. He said they are not having people beat down the doors to come and work for the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. We do not have applications on hand and the few they did have disqualified. The additional tenth full time officer will be taking the spot of a person who is working thirty two hours and now putting them at forty hours. Assistant Chief Stewart said we are kind of “plugging a hole” but they will need to look for additional part time officers as well. He feels there should be at least four part time officers in addition to the full time officers. Due to contractual obligations there are certain benefits of vacation days every year, personal days and if someone gets injured we need additional officers. One officer was out for a while due to an operation he had. This all draws and pulls from the department’s resources, added Assistant Chief Stewart. He said we are trying to keep a department going that is manned 24/7 at 365 days a year.
Supervisor Dotey asked if the part time officer receive benefits. Assistant Chief Stewart responded, no.
Commissioner Kevin Salvati directed a question to the Chief and Assistant Chief. He asked how many hours of overtime they put in last month. Assistant Chief Stewart said he does not keep track anymore. Commissioner Salvati asked if he had a rough idea. Assistant Chief Stewart said he probably does at least twenty hours of overtime per month.
Vice Chairman Melvin said the reason they have a hard time getting officers, both full and part time, is that they must live in the State of Pennsylvania. It is hard because we are so close to New Jersey and New York. So most people would be pulled from the Scranton area which is far. He said there have been some recent applicants but they have not been able to pass the security background check. It puts the department and commission in a difficult situation. Supervisor Dotey asked if they the applicants are already police officers. Assistant Chief Stewart said no. They are new applicants. We run their background checks and something comes up either criminally or one of the references have said this is not someone they would want to hire. Supervisor Buchanan confirmed they are Act 120 certified.
Supervisor Buchanan said he wanted to make sure everyone knows everyone in the meeting. Everyone introduced themselves.
Vice Chairman Melvin asked if there were any other questions for the Chief and Assistant Chief. Supervisor Banach inquired about the income (fines) to the department from the borough, township and school. He included the pipeline and sale of equipment. He asked what kind of impact this has on the budget. Chief Stewart said there is proposed income listed on the budget. He read those sections of the budget. He said the fines budgeted are $60,000 and the grants are $14,000. The grants are an “in and out” item covering overtime for officers. Solicitor Mincer said they do not get State Police fines. Assistant Chief Stewart said the State Police fines are paid directly to the municipality and do not get paid to the department. He said, as far as the cars they are getting rid of, they are eleven and twelve years old and are not safe. The frames have been patched and they are sold as scrap metal. Vice Chairman Melvin asked if when the pipeline came through and additional monies were received if the money was used for additional costs. Chief Stewart said he does not have any figures in front of him regarding the pipeline since it is not on the 2015 budget. He said the costs were reimbursements for the officer, fuel, insurance and things of that nature. Councilman Sigreti said we broke even, basically. Solicitor Mincer said it was overtime only. It was not in the budget and the officers had to voluntarily work overtime only. Vice Chairman Melvin asked how much approximately came in from it. Chief Stewart said, off the top of his head, around $50,000. Supervisor Dotey asked why we would not have made a profit on it. Solicitor Mincer said that is not allowed. Councilman Losee said it is not a business. Solicitor Mincer said there seems to be some confusion. He said we as a police department cannot make a profit off of any of the services provided. If the school asks them to come and cover something, the department has a formula which is based on exactly the cost of the overtime officers. If a profit was made it would have to be a private police department or security agency. Solicitor Mincer said when the pipeline people came in we had to be very careful and clear that it was overtime only, could not be during any regular shifts and that the money the department was charging was a break even for the police department. He said they had to be very careful about it since they are a non- profit organization. They are not a private police department in any manner.
Supervisor Buchanan read an article from the Pike County Dispatch which Supervisor Dotey brought to his attention. He read the article regarding the police department. The article read that the Police Commission is a private entity that overseas and owns the department. Vice Chairman Melvin said his interpretation is that it is an independent corporation which means the commission takes on the burden of liability. Supervisor Buchanan said that he thinks that Supervisor Dotey is questioning the part that says “owns and overseas the department”. Chief Stewart said it is in the newspaper. Supervisor Dotey said it is a direct quote from Mr. Paris. Chief Stewart said he cannot speak for him. Solicitor Mincer said a regional police department is authorized in Pennsylvania. It is not a corporation or a Limited Liability Company. It is not allowed to be by law. It is a special entity and by the agreement between the two municipalities the commission is to oversee the police department. There is a whole list of things the commission does regarding budget and personnel. The commission is independent from the municipalities but has representatives of the municipalities on it. He said there is an additional independent fifth person who is on the commission. Solicitor Mincer said Solicitor Bernathy built this stipulation into the contract. He said the equipment is owned by the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. Solicitor Bernathy said the fifth person, just so people are aware, is to break a tie. Vice Chairman Melvin said the fifth person is Mr. Salvati, for people who do not know. Solicitor Bernathy said it is usually recommended to have an odd number to prevent gridlock on certain issues. Supervisor Dotey understands the part that if something is being done for the school a profit cannot be made. If services are being provided for an outside organization it would be beneficial to make extra money doing so. Solicitor Mincer cleared it up from a legal standpoint by saying it is not allowed. Councilman Sigreto said it is against the Pennsylvania State law. Solicitor Mincer said if a profit is made then it would be considered a private police department offering private services. He said once again, it cannot be done. Councilman Losee said the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department is not an LLC or a Corporation. He said it is not a business. Supervisor Banach said he agrees and he is aware a profit is not allowed but the officers are benefitting by receiving overtime wages and the wear and tear on equipment as guns, vehicles and uniforms are being paid by the municipality and the borough. He said a profit is not being made by equipment is being worn out faster. He said when the equipment needs to be replace it is purchased by the municipality and in a way is unfair to the citizens. Vice Chairman Melvin said that when the services are at the school it is a community service to protect the community and the residents who are attending a game. He said it is important that a presence is shown to keep peace. Regarding the pipeline, he said we benefitted by gaining an extra zone patrol over Westfall Township where the pipeline was located. Vice Chairman Melvin understood Supervisor Banach’s comment on the wear and tear of the equipment but feels we need to weigh the benefit of the community against the costs of tires and mileage. He said some of the cost was recouped within the rate which is charged to the entities since we charge for the officer, mileage and gas and other things. He said he understands Supervisor Banach’s point but it is hard to tell how whole his calculations are. Solicitor Mincer said before the pipeline was brought about it was brought up at three public meetings. It took a while for the Police Commissioners to make a decision. A lot of research was done to see how it would affect the community. Commissioner Salvati said we were going to be there whether we were paid or not. There were many complaints regarding the “tree huggers’ and trespassers. We would have been responded to calls and patrolling that area anyway. The pipeline offered compensation knowing they would be putting a burden on the police department. The area needed to be patrolled due to vandalism to equipment. He said it is not like we took something on and made an extra bunch of money. Vice Chairman Melvin said the way the contract was constructed was that court time for any arrests made up there as well were paid. Assistant Chief Stewart said that is correct. Chief Stewart said that before the contract went into effect there were calls they responded to on their own which involved costs. There were trespassing complaints and court time due to this. He said quite a bit of money was spent. Vice Chairman Melvin asked if the department was able to recoup the money. Chief Stewart said no. Assistant Chief Stewart said that Westfall received an additional officer at the pipeline’s expense. The built in rate covered the cost of the cars, tires, insurance, etc. He said as far as a gun, it will wear the same as if it is on the officer’s body or sitting at home. Assistant Chief Stewart said Westfall received an additional three officers for an entire summer. They were for zones one, two and three which are exclusively in Westfall Township. He said Westfall Township made out well since the pipeline was paying for that additional officer. Before the additional officer, the department was getting clobbered with the time they were spending up at the pipeline. Supervisor Buchanan asked what could be done to find other things like this so that it reduces the overhead to have the third party cover costs of the services. He questioned other things that are out there that could be looked at as a group. He knows we cannot make money but we can have the costs covered which would reduce the amount Matamoras and Westfall have to put into it. Commissioner Salvati said it would not be reducing the cost. The officer would be assigned to that project solely so it is a “break even” deal. There is no profit made on the officer. Vice Chairman Melvin said that something could be done if we expand borders and maybe work with other municipalities. He said that would be a different scenario and things like this have been discussed for years. Supervisor Dotey said we should start a campaign on that. Chief Stewart said if additional municipalities are added obviously the costs to all parties involved would decrease. Supervisor Dotey said his question has been answered.
Vice Chairman Melvin asked if there were any other questions with no response. He suggested all parties take the proposed budget back to their municipality or borough. The budget is where the police department feels it needs to be. He said we wanted to have this meeting to present the numbers to both entities so that they have plenty of time to look at it and research it. There are three weeks before the next police commission meeting to come up with any questions. This will give enough time for both entities to figure out what is best for their communities. Solicitor Mincer said he is aware that both municipalities have nominated two people to be able to meet. He suggested they meet before the police commission meeting to formulate any questions. Vice Chairman Melvin thought that is important. Councilman Clark said that President Sain will be back next week. Supervisor Buchanan said that anytime is good for himself and Supervisor Dotey so to pick and date and they will be there. There was discussion regarding the date for the meeting. The meeting was scheduled for August 27, 2014 at a private location.
Vice Chairman Melvin said that the budget is now available for review and everyone will be prepared going into the budget cycles.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 7:33 pm. Vice Chairman Melvin thanked all for coming.