Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rebates, taxes, improvements, demolitions, and drains: Tarentum borough makes progress.

Monday night's meeting of the Tarentum Borough Council was a positive meeting in which the Council continued to move ahead. During the 48-minute meeting the council members were responsive to citizen concerns, polite to one another, and focused on the business of the borough.

The borough is going to have a procurement card through PLGIT (the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust). Borough Manager Bill Rossey explained that this card is a MasterCard that will give rebates to the borough and also make it possible for the borough to set limits for the procurements of each department. Rossey expects the rebates to be about $20,000 a year.

The Council approved an "Agility Agreement" with PennDOT. This agreement will make it possible for the borough to ask PennDOT to do certain things that the borough needs but lacks the capability to accomplish. In return the borough will do certain tasks for PennDOT from time to time. The specific tasks to be traded were not named in the meeting, but the value of the work done will be determined so that each party will know how much work is owed to the other.

The Council is looking at whether there is a more efficient way to collect delinquent taxes. After the Administrative, Employee Relations, and Finance committee has spoken with the Tax Collector there may be a recommendation coming to Council.

The Council awarded the contract for paving the Dreshar Stadium Parking lot to Ron Gillette for $50,000.

The Council recognized "Tarentum Citizens of Recreation" as an organization that will support the Tarentum Recreation Board. This new organization may apply for a license to sell small games of chance in order to raise funds for the Tarentum Recreation Board.

Manager Bill Rossey reported on a number of matters. There is an estimate in excess of $3,000 to repair one of the engines of Eureka Fire & Rescue. The borough will be advertizing for garbage pick-up service as well as for an electricity supplier. There may be a 70% increase in the cost of electricity. There has been a meeting with the Port Authority about establishing a Park & Ride under the bridge. A number of streets are going to be paved in the near future. A section of East Sixth between Corbet Street and Bridge Street will need to be closed at least three days for paving. The borough is going to receive more of the payments due for the Liquid Fuels Tax.

Council President Carl Magnetta reported that he received a letter from members of the family who own the former Pracko Market on West Seventh. This building is next to the Salisbury property that is slated for demolition. The members of the family offer to donate the building to the borough. If this building also needs demolition, the donation may simplify the demolition of the Salisbury property. There were concerns from some council members as to whether the Pracko Market building is free of liens and back taxes.

Citizen concerns at the meeting included the problem of the storm drains backing up. A resident on East Eighth was concerned about the fact that heavy rains cause water to come up like a fountain through the drains in her basement. (This is a very similar problem to one we have at Central Presbyterian Church, where we have had water in our lower level five times this summer.) Borough Manager Rossey offered to send people up with a camera to check the status inside the storm drains around this residence; when the borough sent a camera to check the storm drains near the church earlier this summer they found that a catchment basin was clogged and needed to be pumped out. I don't think they know yet what is causing the problem that affects so many people in Tarentum, but the borough is working on it and trying to solve the mystery.

At this meeting the Council was concerned for Mayor Wolfe, who was absent because of his health. Many were pleased to see Councilwoman Mary Newcomer who had missed a number of council meetings because of her health but was able to be present this week. The Valley News Dispatch today ran a story about the absenteeism of another council member who claims "work-related" reasons for not attending meetings. I think that what the council actually did in the meeting is an important (although less scandalous) story. While health or other priorities have kept some council members from being present at all meetings, those who did show up at the meetings have made sure that the borough continues to make progress on a number of fronts.

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