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The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania

Lansdowne Borough Council Business Meeting Wednesday – December 3, 2003

A public meeting regarding the 2004 budget was held before the regularly scheduled Borough Council Business Meeting at 7:00 PM in Borough Hall. Mr. Klingler gave an overview of the major budget highlights:

  • There will be a projected 13.3% increase over the 2002 budget amounting to $5,234,647.00 projected for the General Fund budget.
  • 82.4% of this amount is for wages, benefits, debt service, insurance costs, utilities and street lighting.
  • The bulk of the budget consists of police protection (36.1%), administration (9.9%), solid waste collection (13.6%) and code enforcement (6%).

Mr. Burke asked why the administration charges were $43,000 higher than last year. Mr. Forrest stated that changing Suni Best to full time status with benefits, a higher percentage raise for Betsy Riffert, putting $5,000 toward deductibles and higher legal and engineering fees were the primary factors for the increase. Mr. Burke felt that a full time Fire Marshall was not necessary and that code enforcement matters took up a large part of the budget. Mr. Smith stated that code enforcement will bring in approximately $300,000.

Mr. Burke asked why $75,000 was being taken out of the Sewer Fund and into the General Fund to offset the debt service. Mr. Klingler stated that the original $225,000 from which the referred $75,000 was taken from was a windfall to be used for any necessary storm or sanitary sewer projects. Mr. Council stated that the remaining $150,000 was being used for legal and debt service fees on the storm side.

Mr. Smith asked why the Upper Darby Township line item was increasing from $21,000. to $32,000. Mr. Forrest stated that some of Upper Darby’s programs with Philadelphia are being passed on to Lansdowne this year and that Lansdowne is tied into their sewer lines along Marshall and Scottdale Roads. Mr. Burke felt that the reasons for this large an increase should be investigated.

Visitor Comments
John Callaghan questioned the $50,000 redevelopment fee. Mr. Council stated that $40,000 was being paid by grants and $10,000 would be paid by the Borough.

Mr. Callaghan asked if trash collection could be limited to once per week during the winter to save costs. President Campuzano stated that this issue had been previously discussed and most residents would not welcome the idea.

Mr. Callaghan asked how much the skate board park would cost. Mr. Klingler stated that $28,000 has been budgeted for next year and that the Borough had already reserved its share toward this project.

Mr. Callaghan asked if the front end will be loaded in the bond issue. Mr. Council stated that short term capital purchases will be front loaded and long term capital purchases will be off loaded.

Mr. Callaghan stated that Lansdowne’s proposed millage increase was the highest in the County.Mr. Smith stated that other Borough’s millage rate is 10% and the County’s is 13%. Mr. Council stated that several reasons contribute to this: Lansdowne is not generating any more revenue, expenses are rising at a rate of 3-5% per year and the infrastructure is in need of repair. Mr. Council stated that taxes are not raised every year and acknowledged the economic hardship for fixed income residents but that the increase is necessary in order to maintain the level of services and repairs that residents have come to expect.

Edith Bassie asked why the skate board park was being approved and felt that participants should get their own insurance as part of the skate board membership.Mr. Smith stated that insurance rates are the same for skate board parks as well as regular playgrounds. Mayor Young stated that 98% of the injuries in skate board parks are caused by contact with cars and the injury rate for skateboarding is considerably less than other sports.
Mrs. Bassie felt that a once per week trash pickup was a good idea.

President Campuzano expressed his gratitude for everyone’s hard work on the budget.

The regularly scheduled Business Meeting of the Lansdowne Borough Council then followed at 7:30 PM. In attendance were President Campuzano, Mr. Council, Mr. Borgman, Mr. Burke, Mrs. Fryer, Mr. Klingler and Mr. Smith. Also in attendance were Mayor Young, Solicitor Scott, Borough Manager Forrest, Borough Secretary Henry and Police Chief Kortan. Borough Engineer Bevilacqua, Treasurer Asciutto, Fire Chief Young and Code Enforcement Officer Travers were absent.

Mr. Burke moved to approve the minutes of the November 5, 2003 Business Meeting. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Burke moved to approve the minutes of the November 17, 2003 Special Council Meeting. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously. President Campuzano abstained from the vote.

Reports and Discussions
A. Treasurer’s Report
There was no report given in Mr. Asciutto’s absence.

B. Solicitor’s Report
Mr. Scott stated his item would be covered in Executive Session.

C. Borough Manager’s Report
Mr. Forrest stated that a draft of the 2004 meeting schedule is being distributed and asked for any revisions or comments before the next Council Meeting.

D. Police Chief Kortan
Chief Kortan is recommending that officer Crescent Brown be promoted from Class E to Class D patrol officer.

Chief Kortan stated that an AED (automatic exterior defibrillator) will be given to the Police Department from Mercy FitzGerald Hospital and every member will be trained on the apparatus.

E. Mayor Young
Mayor Young stated that the newsletter, covering primarily code issues, will be distributed the week of January 5th and will primarily cover code issues. She asked that articles be given to her by December 17th.

F. President’s Report
President Campuzano stated that the Gift Givers program is progressing well. The Lansdowne Democrats donated $100.00. The Lansdowne Republicans will be contacted for a matching contribution if they so desire.

President Campuzano reported that the employee Christmas bonus will be discussed in Executive Session.

G. Economic Development
Mr. Council reported that a conference will be held in Philadelphia on January 14, 15 and 16, 2004 to discuss inner ring suburbs and how to develop a variety of progressive remedies for the problems inherent in these suburbs. Mr. Burke moved to have Mr. Council and Mr. Forrest attend this conference at a cost of $250.00 per person. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Council expressed his desire to develop a public art program in Lansdowne whereby works of art by local residents will be displayed. The idea is to promote Lansdowne as an art community for both local residents and others interested in moving here. Mr. Council moved to authorize the purchase of a painting of the Lansdowne Theater by Larry Smalley for a cost of $600.00. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Council reported that at a recent meeting with Comcast representatives regarding the cable franchise agreement it was discovered that they have been overpaying the Borough for a variety of services other than the agreed upon basic and premium channels.Mr. Council stated that the renegotiated rate will not be as large as previously anticipated and that the Borough should not have to pay the overpayment charges. Another major issue was access to a public channel. The Borough will not have to accede to PCN programming if a Borough program is to be aired. Mr. Council suggested that a right of way ordinance be considered next year that will allow the Borough to charge a usage fee.

H. Finance and Administration
Mr. Klingler reported that a tax increase of 13.3% was anticipated for 2004. The sewer rate will increase 3% and the refuse fee will remain the same. Mr. Klingler stated that a motion may be made to have Lansdowne police contribute 5% to their pension plan.

Mr. Klingler reported that the fire siren issue had been passed on to the Finance and Administration Committee for review and it was recommended that the siren be turned off and money be budgeted for an additional three years for additional pagers, the fees of which include the monthly operating fee. Mr. Forrest suggested meeting with Fire Chief Young again to review the budget figures before finalization. Mrs. Fryer stated she wanted a time frame established for discontinuing the use of the siren.A lengthy discussion followed regarding this issue. Mr. Council stated that not enough evidence exists to justify keeping the current alarm method and that alternative methods should be used to muster a response team. Mayor Young disagreed. President Campuzano stated that a compromise needs to be reached without alienating both parties.

I. Municipal Services
Mr. Burke reported that his Committee discussed keeping the bulk trash pickup procedures the same for 2004 but having the white CFC trash picked up on a call basis of one day per month. There would be a fee for this special service and the bulk trash time line would be two weeks instead of three weeks. Highway foreman Billy Johnson stated that it could not be done in two weeks due to the enormous amount of trash involved. He also mentioned that the salt shed depletes the bulk trash space. Mr. Forrest stated that approximately $25,000 in savings would be realized. Mr. Forrest also stated that the appropriate items need to be sent to the appropriate recycling sites. Mr. Burke moved to eliminate the current bulk trash pickup and implement a new trash pickup program using the changes recommended by Mr. Forrest. Mr. Council seconded and a roll call vote was taken. The motion carried 4-3 with President Campuzano, Mr. Burke and Mr. Smith casting the dissenting votes. President Campuzano felt that not enough time was being considered for the residents to assimilate the changes beforehand. Mr. Council stated there may be some problems during the transitional period but the new program needs to be utilized. Mrs. Fryer asked if magnets would be available. Mr. Forrest stated that magnets would be available without the bulk trash information.

Mr. Burke moved to release the retainage of $4,260.79 to Joseph Sucher’s bonding company for the Road Overlay contract. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Burke moved to release the retainage of $4,804.59 to Abbonizio for the W. Stratford Avenue sewer project. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Burke moved to release the retained of $2,455.81 to R. E. Rowles for the 2003 Road Maintenance contract. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

J. Public Safety
Mrs. Fryer moved to promote officer Crescent Brown to Class D patrol officer effective 12/2/03 with a pay adjustment according to the Civil Service Commission rules and regulations and that dues for the FOP be deducted accordingly. Mr. Council seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mrs. Fryer reported that at the last Public Safety Committee meeting it was discussed that a single block of Highland Avenue between Stewart and Price Avenues should be made a no parking zone on the east side.

Mrs. Fryer moved to suspend metered parking fees for the month of December, 2003. Mr. Burke seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mrs. Fryer moved to reappoint Betsy Riffert to the Board of Health for a five year term expiring 12/31/08. Mr. Council seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mrs. Fryer moved to discontinue the use of the fire siren as a primary means of mustering a crew effective February 18, 2003. Mr. Council seconded and a roll call vote was taken. The motion failed to carry with a 4-3 vote. The "nay" votes were cast by President Campuzano, Mr. Burke, Mr. Klingler and Mr. Smith.

Mrs. Fryer stated that Frank Catania has been named the new Solicitor for the School Board.

K. Zoning, Planning and Code Enforcement
Mr. Smith asked if there were any objections to having a banner displayed over Lansdowne Avenue for the Lansdowne Boys and Girls Club baseball and softball team registration. No objections were raised.

Mr. Smith stated that Bob Brumbaugh will be leaving his position on the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Smith reported that 151 W. Essex Avenue is the next property due for demolition. Also, 46 S. Union and 26 N. Rigby Avenues have been declared unfit for human habitation.

Mr. Scott stated that the basic premise of the zoning overlay ordinance is to take some undesirable businesses in the Borough from the C-1 and C-2 districts and put them solely in a C-3 district. Restaurants would now be allowed in C-1 and C-2 districts without special provisions. Mr. Smith mentioned that a legal practice will be occupying space on the second floor of the Lansdowne Theater building.

L. Parks and Recreation
Mr. Borgman reported that two terms will expire on the Recreation and Park Board at the end of this year. Mr. Borgman moved to reappoint Jack Kelly to the Recreation and Park Board for a three year term expiring 12/41/06. Mr. Klingler seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Borgman stated that the next Recreation and Park Board meeting will be held on December 15th at 7:00 PM. The next Park and Recreation Committee meeting will be held on December 16th at 7:00 PM.

Visitors
John Callaghan
Mr. Callaghan asked what would now happen to the fire siren. President Campuzano stated that more discussions may follow on the issue and the future new Borough Council will be voting on it.

Mr. Callaghan asked that someone write the water company about a variety of issues including the rising rates. Mr. Council moved to pass a Resolution requesting in writing to the PUC the justification for their rate increase and reassurance that the rate increase is not funding the water usage of other municipalities. Mr. Burke seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Old Business
None.

New Business
Mr. Klingler moved to advertise Ordinance 1191, An ordinance of the Borough fixing the tax rate for the year 2004. Mr. Smith seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Klingler moved to advertise Ordinance 1192, An ordinance of the Borough to fix the amount of sewer rental or charge for 2004 to be made to each property connected to the sewers. Mr. Council seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Klingler moved to not decrease the police employee pension contribution to its contractual level for the year 2004. Mr. Council seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Bills
Mr. Klingler moved to approve payment of the bills for the period. Mr. Burke seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Burke moved to adjourn to Executive Session to discuss a personnel issue, seconded by Mr. Council. The motion carried unanimously and the meeting adjourned at 10:20 PM.

Upon reconvening from Executive Session two motions made:
Mr. Klingler moved to provide an employee bonus for Borough employees as in years past.

Mr. Council seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Council moved to direct Solicitor Scott to begin the process of terminating Heart and Lung benefits for Officer Baldesarre. Mr. Burke seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Burke moved to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Mrs. Fryer. The motion carried unanimously and the meeting adjourned at 10:46 PM.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Ann Henry
Borough Secretary

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