At last night’s council meeting, we attended with the plan to ask a few questions and then to observe. However, another resident who spoke after us brought up many additional concerns, which also received plenty of sympathy but no relief. Seeing an ally, we followed him out the door after he aired his concerns to compare notes.
Last night, I had some specific questions:
1. When will the borough post all the agendas and meeting minutes missing since last April and February respectively?
Answer: They’re up! I checked the website around 4:00 P.M. yesterday and nothing had changed. Shortly after, I posted on Mayor Ed Foley’s Facebook page asking him why minutes and agendas where still missing. He did not know, but he’d check. Talk about our government in action!
2. With regards to the debt service line item in the posted budget summary, what is that $244,000 in debt (or 4% of the budget) servicing?
Answer: As I expected, mostly the new parking lot.
3. Why does the borough only post a summary of the budget on the website? Where is the document with the breakouts?
Answer: No real reason. Borough Manager George Locke assured the council that upon request, he will provide a PDF of the entire budget to anyone who asks. I followed up by asking why not just post the entire thing online? Unless the borough is penny pinching and can’t afford the extra (insignificant) bandwidth or server space, there’s no need to post a summary.
4. What can anyone who does not comply with this ordinance expect to happen?
Answer: This discussion prompted Council to jump ahead in their agenda to display a two-slide powerpoint show that outlines the process. In short, those not in compliance face a court date before the Honorable Judge Elizabeth McHugh, where she can levy fines up to $600. Mind you, the law also states that jail is also in the offing.
In an earlier email sent me, Councilor Rick Bunker told us that we could expect the borough to slap a lien on our property and the borough will do the work, except that this isn’t exactly true, either. As it happens, the borough has no budget for performing any of the work itself.
We are not civil engineers, but one would reasonably expect that with a project of this scope, statistics already exist that show a rate of non-compliance. This is what you budget for.
Finally, it’s hard to shake a sense that we’re living in a kind of Bizzaroland. Even in the face of many stories of hardship, mismanagement, and potentially brutal enforcement, the councilors who in theory represent our best interests as a community seem completely oblivious to the way they are dismantling it with this process. The councilors themselves used terms such as “onerous” and “hardship” in their discussions, but could only punctuate their remarks with shoulder shrugs.
I’m happy to say that we are finally hearing from a growing number of residents who have expressed utter disgust with how this program is being carried out. Please contact us here or via our Facebook page. We are planning to meet with other concerned residents to strategize for the September Council Meeting.
Let your voice be heard. The time is now.