Approval of a positive budget, more money for area fire departments and discussion of wintertime parking were all part of Monday night's meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council.
Winter parking discussed by council
— Approval of a positive budget, more money for area fire departments and discussion of wintertime parking were all part of Monday night's meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council.
One issue discussed was overnight parking during the winter months in Honesdale.
Since last year, several area residents have been asking the borough to take a look at its overnight parking rules.
Currently, no overnight parking is allowed on any streets in the borough from Dec. 1 to March 1.
Last year, there was hardly any snow which fell during that time. The biggest snowfall came in late October.
The police collected around $5,000 in fines last winter by writing tickets for violation of the parking rules.
Some area residents have said the borough needs to change its policy because there are so many multi-family residences in the borough. That has changed since the overnight parking law was implemented decades ago.
With that, Jim Brennan, chairman of the borough street committee, made a proposal Monday night to change the ordinance.
Brennan is proposing making 17 streets in the borough as designated snow routes. Under his plan, the current rules would remain in effect. There would be no parking on those streets during the winter months.
The streets are the main arteries in the borough, including Main, Church, Terrace and many others.
Brennan said for the other streets, parking would be allowed during the winter months unless there is a "snow emergency" declared.
The ordinance would allow the mayor to declare a snow emergency and then residents would have to remove their vehicles from the streets. The emergency would be announced through various means, including media and the internet.
A penalty of $25 per violation would continue to be the fine.
Brennan said he has received various complaints from local residents. One of the biggest, he said, is that people are now forced to park on their lawns, which is causing damage to those lawns.
Rich Doney, director of public works, said he is opposed to changing the ordinance.
In fact, after complimenting Brennan on drafting the proposal, Doney simply dismissed it, saying it should be "totally thrown out."
Brennan disagreed, saying he thinks the ordinance does need to be changed. Other members of the council said the same thing after the meeting.
Brennan did agree to postpone a motion on the matter until next Monday night's special meeting, set for 7 p.m. He also agreed to meet with Doney as well as the fire and police chiefs to further discuss the matter.
During the meeting, Doney complained he didn't have the time to fully review the proposal. Brennan said after the meeting Doney had five days to look over the proposal.
Should the motion pass on Monday, the ordinance amendment would be placed on the Jan. 14 agenda. If passed then, it would go into effect immediately.
In another matter, the council voted to allot an additional $22,500 to the four fire companies which serve Honesdale.
Finance chairman Scott Smith said because there is going to be a budget surplus, the borough can afford to provide the additional funding.
Under new state law, the borough now has to pay all of the worker's compensation costs for the fire companies. That had put a strain on how much could be given to the departments.
The council voted to pay the rest of the 2013 worker's compensation utilizing 2012 funds, meaning the fire department can be given more funding.
Council voted 7-0 to approve the change.
With little discussion, council voted 7-0 to approve the proposed 2013 budget.
There will be no tax increases for borough residents.
The millage rates are:
• Fire tax, .27
• Recreation tax, .30
• General property tax, 4.08
• Debt service, .06
• Retirement, .05
Smith said current budget projects indicate the borough should have about $115,000 on hand at the end of the year (that includes both general and liquid fuels funds) as well as $50,000 in the contingency fund.
Council president F.J. Monaghan thanked Smith for his hard work in monitoring and maintaining a positive budget.
Smith thanked the borough employees for keeping their budgets within the set limits.
In other business:
• A letter was read to council from attorney Mark Zimmer concerning local resident Ann Reynolds and a remark made about her at a recent meeting.
Zimmer said a member of council stated that Reynolds did not own her driveway. That driveway has been the subject of much discussion and Reynolds says her situation has gotten worse concerning neighbors.
Monaghan asked borough solicitor Rich Henry to review the letter and report back to council at the next meeting.
• The council approved the Wayne County Children's Christmas Bureau "Shower for Charity," set for Dec. 15 at the Fred R. Miller Pavilion on Main Street.
• Council heard a letter from county attorney Janine Edwards about former zoning officer Wayne Earley.
Council had requested that Edwards contact the state attorney general regarding a possible insurance fraud in the case of the condemnation of the former Honesdale EMS building.
The attorney general wrote back to Edwards, saying "further investigation is not warranted at this time."
• Monaghan read a letter from Honesdale EMS which said the group has formally dissolved. Honesdale EMS announced it was going out of business several months ago.
• The council heard an update on the proposed forensic audit of the borough. That audit has been discussed for quite some time since some records were found missing.
Smith said he met with one auditing firm which proposed doing a one- or two-day review of certain records to see of a full forensic audit was warranted.
Smith said he was going to meet with another firm, as well, to get a price.
• For the second straight meeting, council told Gail Tucker, executive director of the Greater Honesdale Partnership, they had not had a chance to review a video about the Route 6 Heritage Community proposal.
Tucker is asking for a resolution to be passed in support of the proposal.
The council will meet next Monday night at 7 p.m. in a special meeting to discuss the CVS project as well as any other relevant business.