Laceyville Borough ups Taxes, Water Rates
By David Keeler.
By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Laceyville Borough Council voted to increase taxes by five mils and water rates by $2 per thousand gallons.
The tax increase brings the borough’s total millage to 23.6.
Water rates will increase from $4 per thousand gallons used to $6 per thousand. The water base rate of $10 per quarter will remain the same.
The five-mil tax increase will amount to approximately a $100 per year increase for borough property owners, however, the actual amount will depend on a property’s assessed value. Each mil of taxation brings the borough $1,000 in annual revenue.
“It doesn’t make sense to backpedal any longer,” Linda Sabatelle said regarding the borough’s inability to meet expenses or set money aside for unexpected repairs and other costs.
The borough has been hit with increasing expenses and has been unable to pay some of its bills. To meet current expenses, council agreed to borrow some $18,000 from gas lease funds. General Fund revenues have been used to pay increasing water company expenses, further depleting the borough coffers, Borough Secretary Mary Tyler said.
The last time taxes were increased was in 2008.
Along with the tax and water rate increase, council voted to approve its 2012 budget, which lists General Fund expenditures of $172,133.49. Tyler said no borough residents looked at the proposed budget although it’s been available to the public for a month.
Water Problems Continue
Although Water Company Superintendent Tim Shotwell wasn’t at the meeting, Mayor Ken Patton told council that the borough’s water system was still being powered by a generator because every time Penelec reconnects power, it results in a blown pump motor. “We’ve burned up three motors,” Patton said, adding that they cost about $6,500 each. The generator, which is being rented by the borough, has been in use since late October. “To me this is an insurance issue,” Paton said.
Keith Pennay agreed with Patton, saying that it was Penelec that caused the problems, not nature.
Council agreed to contact its insurance company about recovering money for the pump motors and Borough Solicitor Chad Salsman about Penelec’s apparent inability to supply usable power to the borough’s water system. “As far as I’m concerned, these are not our bills,” Patton said of the cost of replacing pump motors. “This is what we have insurance for.”
To make matters worse, it was reported that Shotwell is having health problems and has not been able to read water meters or send out bills to customers. Council’s water committee expects to meet with Shotwell to work out a course of action.
Tyler suggested that the borough use an old generator that has been stored in the borough rather than renting one to power the water system. Patton disagreed. He said the borough’s generator would not likely hold up when used 24/7. “I just don’t think it could take it,” Patton said. “It’s one thing to use it for a brief power outage, but this would be too much.”
Other business included:
— Hearing from Mayor Patton that during 2010, the most current year when figures are available, Laceyville’s Police Department received more fine revenue than any other municipality served by District Court 44-3-04. Laceyville’s fine revenue totaled $50,709.43. Other communities listed on the audit included: Tunkhannock Township, $14,680; Meshoppen Borough, $38,328; Meshoppen Township, $14,399, and Mehoopany Township, $15,951.78. “I’m pretty damn proud of our police department,” Patton said. “If anyone has been wondering what our police have been doing, here is the answer.”
—Hearing a complaint from Linda Newhart about a ticket she received for parking too close to the corner while making a delivery on Main Street. Mayor Patton said he would talk with Newhart about the matter privately after the meeting.
—Agreeing to accept a bid from Bob Clark and Sons for $30,000 to repair the wing walls on the Franklin Street Bridge, which were damaged during the September flooding. The money is expected to be reimbursed by FEMA. The approach to the bridge also needs repairs but no cost for that work was discussed.
—Agreeing to purchase a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria for use as a police patrol car for $11,500. Patton said the car came from federal surplus and has been on trial use in the borough for 30 days. He said the car was likely previously used by the CIA or FBI. The borough’s existing patrol car will be sold for $4,500 and that money used as a down payment on the new car. Patton said it will cost the borough $210 per month for three years to purchase the car.
—Hearing from councilmember Matt Harper that he will take on the responsibility of solving problems with streets lights in the borough, including the one near the Oldest House, which is apparently burned out.
—Discussing a proposal to change the layout at Donovan Park so it would provide space for two baseball fields, with a fence down the center and home plates back to back. Sabatelle expressed concern that the fence could end the park being used as a landing zone for helicopters in medical emergencies.