Monday, May 08, 2006

May meeting of Tarentum borough committees

The Tarentum Borough Council held committee meetings on Monday evening, May 8, 2006 at 6:30 PM. The Council went into executive session twice, and announced what they were going to be doing each time.

The first executive session was brief. They said the executive session was for personnel issues, and made a point of pronouncing every syllable to make it clear that they were not closing the meeting in order to get personal. Council President Mary Newcomer apologized for the confusion that occurred the previous time the Council went into executive session. The council went to a side room to have some privacy. When they came back from the first brief executive session, President Newcomer invited Borough Solicitor David Strellec to describe what they had discussed. The solicitor explained that the Federal Family Medical Leave Act now applied to the borough and that he had recommended to the council that they needed to adopt a FMLA policy.

It was announced that the Council would need to go into executive session a second time at the end of the meeting.

The council began to discuss the problem of high levels of trihalomethane in two recent tests of water in East Deer. Tarentum supplies water to East Deer. The high levels occurred during the summer, and storage may be related to this issue. Unfortunately, I had to leave the meeting before the committee concluded its discussion of the topic.

When I came back to the meeting there was a discussion related to COG (the Allegheny County Council of Governments). First Avenue is going to be repaved, and the milling will start soon. A notice about grants for the skatepark will be in the Valley News Dispatch on Wednesday.

There was a noisy dispute about alleged behavior of a council member or borough employee. What was particularly distressing to me about this part of the meeting was that it seemed that almost no one was ready to recognize the authority of the Council President to keep order. Citizens and council members were talking over each other, exchanging accusations that "you're out of order." The only person in the room with the authority to say that to anyone was the Council President; when she did intervene she should not have had to repeat herself to establish order, and should certainly not have had to argue with citizens about her ruling.

Borough Manager Jeff Thomas announced that he will retire in September and had sent his letter of resignation to the members of the Council.

Councilman Bill Rossey spoke about the kick-off for the revitalization program (described in this blog here and in the Valley News Dispatch here). The banners and entertainment for the evening had all been donated.

Joe Davidek reported that a company has a desire to drill for oil in the KOZ (Keystone Opportunity Zone). If they were to find oil, the borough would get a share of the proceeds. The council is going to need to decide soon what it wants to do with the land in the KOZ, i.e., whether there should be oil drilling or some other development of the land.

The Council went into executive session again at 8:00 PM, and asked the public to leave the Council Chambers. The Council left executive session at 8:40. It was reported to the public that the Council had been discussing borough personnel, job descriptions, and related matters.

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