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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • CVS contract discussion heats up

  • Another controversial discussion and vote concerning CVS Pharmacy took place Tuesday night at the regular monthly meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council.
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  • — Another controversial discussion and vote concerning CVS Pharmacy took place Tuesday night at the regular monthly meeting of the Honesdale Borough Council.
    The issue has been on the front burner for the council in recent months. It culminated last month with a 4-3 vote to enter into a development agreement with CVS concerning the intersection of 4th and Main streets.
    Some members of the council, as well as Mayor Ed Langendoerfer, wanted the borough to wait until CVS could provide complete plans for the intersection and get approval from PennDOT.
    Other members, however, wanted to move forward with the project and ask CVS, in good faith, to agree to fix the intersection by widening the corner.
    That, however, is subject to approval by PennDOT and if it doesn't happen, CVS is under no obligation to change the intersection as per the wishes of the council.
    CVS proposed changing the intersection without purchasing any land or widening the intersection. Instead, they proposed adding a third turning lane to Main Street but then changing the way traffic approaches Main Street from southbound Highway 191.
    Their proposal would also have moved the "stop bar" back on 4th Street, which they said would give large trucks adequate turning radius from Main to 4th.
    In spite of the opposition, the development agreement was passed 4-3 at the last meeting.
    That agreement was signed on Dec. 19 by borough council president F.J. Monaghan and Michael W. Buckless, vice president of Pennsylvania CVS Pharmacy, LLC.
    In the agreement, it states that CVS "shall" submit revised plans for the intersection "within fourteen days" of the agreement.
    That was the main point of contention during Monday night's meeting, which lasted two and one-half hours.
    Councilman Bob Jennings, chairman of the borough's safety committee, introduced a motion at the meeting to revoke the development agreement "for failure to comply" with the agreement signed on Dec. 19.
    The motion was seconded by councilman Harry DeVrieze.
    Councilman Jim Brennan said he thinks CVS should be given the benefit of the doubt, noting the borough "just received plans today."
    He said the borough's engineer, Mary Bogart of Bogart Engineering, "has not had a chance to review" the drawings.
    "Why are they jerking us around?" asked Langendoerfer.
    DeVrieze questioned why CVS and their local representatives asked the council to hurry approval through and then now they are late on their own contract.
    The council did conduct a special meeting in December dedicated to the CVS project.
    "They were in an all-fire hurry, they had to have it done," said DeVrieze. "We didn't set the 14-day time limit, they did."
    Page 2 of 4 - DeVrieze, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, noted the borough zoning office still has the demolition permit but they "can't fill it out because we don't know who owns the property."
    DeVrieze also noted that even though a PDF document was emailed to the borough on Monday, the full set of plans were still not in their possession.
    "Technically, we haven't received a full set of plans," he said.
    Monaghan said he spoke with Bogart on Monday and said she "hopes" to get the plans reviewed quickly and make recommendations.
    Monaghan also said he thought CVS was "wrong" in not complying with the agreement, but didn't think was an an "egregious error."
    DeVrieze stressed he was not against the CVS project but thinks they didn't comply with their own agreement.
    Monaghan said that "if we revoke" the agreement, CVS "has no obligation to redo the intersection."
    "That is because we approved the plan which did not exist," said Langendoerfer.
    Councilman Mike Slish said he believes CVS "held up their agreement."
    "It says 14 days," countered Jennings.
    Slish said you could "argue" whether it's 14 working days or 14 business days, but he felt in the end, CVS did meet the requirements.
    Jennings vehemently disagreed.
    "Fourteen days is 14 days," said Jennings. "They are still in violation."
    DeVrieze told the council that as chairman of the planning and zoning committee he wasn't even aware the agreement was signed on Dec. 19 by Monaghan and the CVS official.
    Brennan then said in his early review of the drawings, he doesn't think they meet the requirements as outlined by the borough. He said a traffic light pole was supposed to be moved so the intersection could be widened and it was not reflected on the drawings.
    That, said Brennan, is a major issue but he said it should be reviewed by the borough's engineer and then a decision made by council.
    Under the agreement, the borough has seven days to reply to the drawings, though it does not specify business days.
    DeVrieze wondered if CVS would give the borough additional time since they violated their own agreement.
    Brennan again said he thinks the fact CVS was late should be overlooked and the council should focus on the intersection drawings.
    "You want to disregard a legal document?" asked Jennings.
    On several occasions, Jennings was asked to withdraw his motion but he refused.
    When the vote was taken, the motion to void the agreement failed.
    Voting for voiding the agreement were Jennings, DeVrieze and Juanita Pisano. Voting not to void the agreement were Monaghan, Scott Smith, Slish and Brennan.
    Page 3 of 4 - Another motion was then made by Jennings for the borough's attorney to file papers with the Court of Common Pleas against CVS.
    That motion failed for a lack of a second.
    It was not determined if there will be a special meeting of the council once the plans are reviewed by the engineer.
    Insurance controversy
    Another contentious issue was also discussed during the meeting which related to the borough's health insurance program.
    Smith, chairman of the finance committee, proposed changing the borough's employee health insurance, something he said will save a lot of money.
    Currently, the borough uses Blue Cross/Blue Shield. There is a $150 per person deductible. He said that means for two people the deductible is $300.
    Smith proposes raising the deductible to $5,000, however, there is a major caveat. He said the borough would purchase a supplemental policy to cover most of the deductible payments.
    Under that plan, it would be a $250 deductible for families. It would mean that for a single person, the deductible would go up from $150 to $250. However, he said the borough would agree to pay that difference, as well.
    According to Smith, nobody's insurance rates would go up under the proposal.
    Smith said there is a potential savings of $45,000 for the taxpayers. He said the total savings would be $57,000 but the co-pays are estimated at costing $12,000.
    Smith said he spoke with a representative of the Honesdale Police Officers Association (HPOA) about the changes "but have not heard back from them."
    He stressed there would be "no out of pocket" increases for employees.
    Smith made a motion to change the insurance and it was seconded by Slish.
    Honesdale Police Chief Joe LoBasso told the council they should use "caution before taking action on insurance."
    LoBasso said he was aware the borough had contacted the union and said there was a letter to be sent to the borough. He also pointed out the health care not only impacts employees but retirees.
    "This is not changing our health care," said Smith.
    "I respectfully disagree, Mr. Smith," said LoBasso.
    Smith said his biggest concern is the deal must be done by Dec. 19.
    "The union said they would get back to me by tonight," said Smith.
    LoBasso called the time allotted by the borough "unreasonable" and pointed out there is a contract in place until 2013.
    Brennan suggested the council take the matter under advisement and asked Smith to withdraw his motion.
    "If we don't do this by the 19th, the savings goes away," said Smith.
    Page 4 of 4 - "To change the deductible from $150 to $5,000 may spark a grievance from the union," said LoBasso.
    "I agree we should table this," said Jennings.
    Slish asked if the council could approve the change contingent upon agreement by the union.
    "I can't accept that because we would say if the union says no, then we lose the opportunity to save money for the borough," said Smith.
    Brennan said he thinks the borough needs to have a legal opinion before the council makes any decision. Solicitor Rich Henry was not at Monday's meeting.
    In the end, the council agreed to have a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday to discuss the matter.
    Smith did withdraw his motion.
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