North East Mayor Steve Gregory administered the oath of office to a new member of North East Borough Council last Wednesday evening as the group met for its regular monthly meeting.
North East borough resident Denise McCumber was selected by write-in votes in the general election to fill the vacancy left by Councilwoman Heather Barnett, who resigned her position this fall. McCumber had also submitted a letter of interest to Council for the seat.
Two of the three soon-to-be-vacant council seats were void of candidates on the ballot and write-in votes would likely determine the new council members. Council members agreed to reschedule their November regular monthly meeting until after the election so the seat vacated by Barnett could be filled immediately.
As of November 15, the borough staff had not yet received official word on the other two new council members as selected through write-in ballots.
In other business of business, Council members voted to accept the settlement in the case of Gerald Hordych and Lori Hordych vs. Borough of North East et al. The settlement includes payment to the Hordychs in the amount of $15,000 in exchange for dismissal and release of the case.
The motion passed unanimously but Councilman Ray Schaaf said prior to casting his vote that he was only voting in favor of accepting the settlement because it would cost more to continue going forward in the court battle.
Council approved a recommendation by Mayor Gregory to hire a part-time police officer and also accepted the East County Emergency Communications 2012 budget. Borough Manager Bob Brayman said due to the recent census the borough’s contribution dropped slightly.
The 2012 proposed budget was approved for advertisement and availability of public inspection. The budget calls for a one mill increase, along with slight increases in services. Brayman said a rate comparison chart will be posted on the borough’s website.
“With these increases we’re still one of the least expensive municipalities for water and sewer,” said Council President Jay McConaughy.
Adoption of the budget is expected at the December council meeting.
Brayman announced good news that helped in preparing the 2012 budget regarding a one-time reimbursement due to error through the 2011 pension allocation.
The state will reimburse the Borough of North East $64,000 to use at the municipality’s discretion. The purchase of one new police cruiser at approximately $25,000 is planned as well as refurbishment of the recycling collection truck at an approximate cost of $26,000. The remaining $13,000 will be allocated to the general fund account.
An agreement with Berkheimer regarding the LST collection was tabled.
Council approved a request submitted by North East Historical Society to serve wine at the group’s open house and approved the request submitted by Halli Reid to hold the Miller Mistletoe Mile on Sunday, December 18 and use Gibson Park and borough streets.
A request submitted by North East Chamber of Commerce to use metal burn barrels in Gibson Park for Light Up Night was approved with a few provisions. The Chamber plans to use the barrels for fires to keep caroling groups warm in various locations throughout the park. Council members voted to allow the use of barrels contingent upon fencing set up around the barrels to prevent individuals from accidentally touching a barrel and burning themselves.
During announcements is was noted the first public hearing regarding 2012 Community Development Block Grants was scheduled for Tuesday, November 15 at 3 p.m.
Prior to adjournment, resident Tom Huber addressed Council and asked if it is possible to include a public comment period at the end of a meeting instead of or in addition to the time at the beginning of a meeting. Council members agreed a public comment period may be held before and after a meeting.
Huber said he would share a comment then, saying, “The Hordych lawsuit is the greatest tragedy in the history of North East.”
Council adjourned and will reconvene on Monday, December 5 at 7 p.m.