— Tempers rose inside Honesdale Borough hall on Monday with a disagreement over a piece of borough equipment.
The disagreement came between Mayor Ed Langendoerfer and Rich Doney, director of public works for the borough.
At issue is a loader owned by the borough.
Doney says it has major mechanical problems while the mayor says that just isn't the case.
The matter arose last month when it was announced by the council they had actually raised property taxes. That was contrary to the announcement made earlier in the year when officials said they were not raising taxes.
Finance committee chairman Scott Smith said last month he made a mistake when basing the tax rate. The net result was around $75,000 in additional taxes which will be collected by the borough over and above the budgeted amount.
Smith then suggested the council set up a separate account for that money to be used to offset future taxes.
But it was then when Jim Brennan, chairman of the streets committee, brought up the issue of the loader.
Brennan at the time said it was estimated to take around $55,000 to purchase a new loader for the borough.
Both Smith and councilman Harry DeVrieze disagreed with the concept of purchasing a new loader.
So did councilman Juanita Pisano.
"I don't think we have the right to spend it," said Pisano.
At the end of that discussion, no action was taken on the excess taxes and it was tabled until Monday night's meeting.
Even at Monday's meeting, no action was taken on the tax situation, but a discussion did take place about the loader.
Page 2 of 5 - Brennan told members of the council he had spoken with Doney about the loader and it was determined it would take about $56,000 for the replacement.
However, Brennan said it was decided the public works department would "get through this year and the re-evaluate" the need for the next budget.
"Last month, it was almost an emergency to buy a loader ASAP," said Langendoerfer.
"I was told 20 minutes before the meeting," said Brennan about the loader situation last month.
The mayor said he had spoken with the owner of a local repair shop who had looked at the loader and was told there was "nothing wrong with it."
"That's not true, mayor," countered Doney.
Doney said there is "still an issue" with the loader.
Doney said he talked to the same repair shop owner who he said would "come here and testify on my behalf."
Doney said the injector pump "is shot," there are two valves "leaking" and it is leaking fuel into the engine.
But the mayor said it was his understanding the local repair shop drained the oil out of the machine and "drove it back to the shop and there was still nothing wrong with it."
Doney called the problem "intermittent" but again said it is a major matter for public works.
"It's up to the council," said Doney. "I will try my best not to blow up the motor."
Doney also told council members that when there is a need for a "police" or "fire" vehicles, "they get them. I have a loader go bad and everyone says I'm lying. You guys do what you want."
Brennan said he spoke with one local shop owner who did not want to give a written evaluation. He said the owner "did not want to get into a political football" match.
Page 3 of 5 - Councilman Bob Jennings suggested that an independent source who had no knowledge of the loader be contacted to conduct an evaluation.
After some discussion, council president F.J. Monaghan said he agreed with Jennings and told members he would make some phone calls on Tuesday to get the evaluation.
No other action was taken on the loader and no action was taken on the excess amount of taxes which are being collected.
Knox Box discussion
In another matter, the issue of "Knox boxes" came up on several occasions.
A "Knox Box" is a system in which businesses place a secure box on their building and then it can be opened by the fire department in the case of an emergency.
An ordinance is in the works, however, it has been controversial. That ordinance, as presented last month, would require all commercial businesses to get the boxes.
That has been met with some resistance.
Steve Clark, local manger of Aqua PA, told the council he has a "number of concerns" about the proposal.
"We have a concern about handing out keys to anyone," said Clark.
Clark said Aqua has a "number" of facilities around the borough which are designed with high security in mind to protect the water supply.
After reading the ordinance, he said Aqua would not want to participate in the program, something which is required.
Business owner Paul Ludick also brought up the issues and wanted to know where the idea came from and how much it would cost.
Honesdale Fire Chief Steve Bates said the idea came from other departments in the area who use the system.
Page 4 of 5 - He said when there is an alarm, state law dictates the fire department is responsible for making sure the scene is secure. In many cases, false alarms are sounded but Bates said they still have to wait for a key holder to arrive on the scene.
He said that can take up to a couple of hours or more in some cases.
But Bates also said since the last discussion, it is his concept to require the boxes for new construction as well as businesses with automatic alarms.
He did tell Ludick the expense would be on the business owner but that would be a one-time only cost and there are no other fees.
It was then noted that borough solicitor Rich Henry is now working with councilman DeVrieze on the matter in order to fine-tune the ordinance.
In other business:
• The council approved several requests, including allowing Koberlein Environmental to do landscaping work during Honesdale Clean & Green 2013, set for April 20.
Kris Ravenscroft, owner of the business, said they want to be involved in the event. The landscaping work will be at Central Park and will including plantings in the corners of the park.
Other requests included allowing use of the Apple Grove picnic area for the Dessin Animal Shelter's annual Duck Derby, use of the Fred R. Miller Pavilion for the Country Farm Market, closing of 10th Street on April 20 for the Presbyterian Church Christian Preschool annual Trike-A-Thon event and allowing the YMCA use of the pool for day camp from June 10 through Aug. 16.
• The council also approved use of the pavilion on May 18-19 for a fund-raising event to benefit the Food Pantry. There will be concessions, music and a dunk booth. Also, there is going to be a raffle for a 2013 Dodge Dart. Tickets are $5 each.
Page 5 of 5 - Nick Slish, who is organizing the event, said tickets are available on Ebay and Facebook.
• The council heard input from the Leaps and Bounds playground group which has more than $100,000 in funding.
The group had an agreement with the Wayne Highlands School District, however, that expired and they are now looking at the possibility of building a new playground in Central Park.
The playground would be for both handicapped and all children, officials said.
Mike Slish said he was interested in working with the group and a meeting will be arranged.
• The mayor asked officials to try and make sure Central Park is clean and the fountain is working in time for the prom.
He said many people go to the park for pictures and last year the fountain was not running.
• The council approved hiring both a manager and assistant manger for the pool this year.
Mike Slish recommended hiring Paige Stanton as the manger for $4,000 and Andrea Stanton as the assistant manager for $3,500.
Slish said he felt there was a need to have both a manager and assistant manager. The assistant manager will be required to work a certain amount of hours as a lifeguard.
"For me, $7,500 is a lot of money to pay for managing the pool," said Langendoerfer.
The council voted unanimously to hire both positions.