At Monday night’s borough council meeting, among a number of other things the council unanimously voted to hire a part-time police officer pending state approval and the potential officers’ passage of the requisite background checks.


At Monday night’s borough council meeting, among a number of other things the council unanimously voted to hire a part-time police officer pending state approval and the potential officers’ passage of the requisite background checks.

In a later interview, Council President F.J. Monaghan said the new officer will be paid an hourly salary on an as-needed basis.

According to Mayor Ed Langendoerfer in an interview, the rate of pay for part time officers is currently $10.

In other news, just before the council adjourned to a 45 minute executive session to discuss “a personnel matter,” finance chair Scott Smith asked his colleagues on the council to consider the possibility of implementing a franchise fee on cable television providers in the borough.

Smith explained that such a fee would apply only to basic cable television and cited an estimate from a law firm involved in drafting Carbondale’s franchise fee that says a five percent fee would likely put $40,000 to $50,000 per year into borough coffers.

Smith said the law firm would draw up the contract for the fee for a cost of roughly $9,000.

Discussion ensued among the council and the sparse audience in attendance, mostly concerning the likelihood that the cable company would simply turn around and charge borough citizens for the increased cost.

“It may not be specifically called that on the bill,” said resident Donna Miller, “but the company will charge you for it one way or the other.”

When another woman asked if residents would be given an opportunity to “opt-out” of the fee, Smith explained that they would not, since the fee would be changed to the company directly.

Bill McAllister, a Certified Public Accountant, said he thought the $40,000 — $50,000 figure estimated by the law firm seemed “a bit high” considering the borough’s population, which is just under 5,000.

“I’m not against the idea,” said vice-president Jim Brennan, “But so many people have gone to Dish (Network), it seems to me doing this wouldn’t be fair. It would be like penalizing people for having cable.”

Council member Mike Slish said he wasn’t supporting the proposal right now, but that he has heard of franchise fees imposed with specific stipulations pertaining to quality of service provided, which he said may be a benefit for cable customers.

Mayor Ed Langendoerfer thanked the council for bringing up the discussion, but agreed with Smith and Monaghan that the discussion should continue in a special public meeting following further discussion with the law firm.

“Ultimately,” he said, “You have to do what’s best for the taxpayers.”

After councilwoman Juanita Pisano announced that DEP had denied the borough one grant out of a field of 129 other applicants, Wayne Conservation District representatives Len Grover and Bob Muller explained that another equally competitive one for nearly $432,000 has been granted for badly needed stormwater remediation work in the area of Terrace and Grove streets.

Although less than half of what the borough originally sought for the project, the money will go to solving a problem that has long plagued residents of the neighborhood and was greatly exacerbated by improvements made at the Wayne Highlands school complex in recent years.

“That really is a problematic watershed there,” Muller said, “the school district did do some remedial work up there that helped some. There are still issues, but they aren’t as bad as they were. Some sections are still very bad, but this money will help to fix a lot more of the problems.”

Grover agreed, first saying the council should be commended for obtaining the grant, then explaining that many areas which have been encroached upon, filled or inadequately maintained over the years will be cleared and new three and four-foot pipes installed to handle stormwater.

“This will go a long way toward fixing the problem,” Grover said.

All on the council agreed that the money and resulting work would be a benefit to residents of the area — including the mayor who went out of his way to commend both the school district and former councilwoman Margie Rickard, who made the issue central to her time both on and off the council for years.

“I want to thank the school district for putting their own money into working on that project,” he said, “and Margie Rickard for her time. She was a pain sometimes, but she was very passionate about this and that helped a lot.”

“The stream by Margie’s house was fixed by the school district,” said Brennan, “but the problems are worsening on the other streams down the hill. The money is of great benefit, but the grant doesn’t include water collection at the bottom of the hill.”

“This really is a very antiquated system,” responded Muller after agreeing with Brennan’s assessment, “but if you look at all the money that’s out there, they’re just not giving grants like they used to. It’s slim pickings out there. This may not completely fix the problem, but it will definitely help.”