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The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania

Lansdowne Borough Council General Meeting – Wednesday – September 17, 2008

The Lansdowne Borough Council General Meeting was held on Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 7:30 PM in Borough Hall. Present were President Wayne, Ms. Coleman, Mr. Lee, Ms. Lustgarten, Ms. Silzle, Mr. Urban and Mr. Wagner. Also in attendance were Mayor Young, Borough Solicitor Scott, Borough Manager Totaro, Borough Secretary Henry, Borough Finance Director/Treasurer Bartley and Police Chief Kortan. Fire Chief Young was absent.

President Wayne stated that the meeting would air on September 22nd at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast channel 10 and RCN channel 52.

Approval of Agenda

The agenda was approved with the following additions/changes: (1) Ms. Silzle is adding American Rivers grant discussion under Old Business and one Executive Session personnel item.


Ms. Coleman moved to approve the minutes of the August 20, 2008 Council General Meeting as submitted by Acting Secretary Totaro. Ms. Lustgarten seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Announcements and Presentations

Mayor Young swore in Police Officer Tina Selimis. Mayor Young presented departing Planning Commission member Suzanne McElroy a certificate of recognition for her many years of service on the Lansdowne Planning Commission.

Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Bartley presented the August 31, 2008 report as follows: The General Fund reflected a $1.1 million surplus with year to date revenues of $$4.7 million and year to date expenditures of $3,629,000. Ending balance is $1,343,933. The Sewer Fund reflected a year to date surplus of $590,000 with year to date revenues of $1,265,000 and year to date expenditures of $674,000. Ending balance was $724,858. The Liquid Fuels Fund had a year to date surplus of $160,000 with year to date revenues of $210,000 and year to date revenues of $50,412. Ending balance was $335,401. The Capital Reserves Fund year to date expenditures is $105,000 with a net of $4,000 interest. Ending balance is $173,652. The Non-Uniform Pension Plan continues to reflect a decrease in market value portfolio of $57,000 year to date. Ending balance was $1,176,125. The Police Pension Fund is down year to date in the amount of $810,000 with an ending balance of $5,829,129. The beginning balance of all funds was $8,700,000 and ending balance was $9,583,111. Revenues were $6,527,000 and expenditures were $5,645,000 with an overall surplus of $882,000. The MMO is expected to be paid by the end of November.

Solicitor’s Report

Mr. Scott reported that he is currently working on the Verizon franchise agreement which will be presented for approval at the next Council meeting.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Young thanked the LEDC and the Arts Festival Committee for their work regarding the Lansdowne Arts Festival. Mayor Young read a list of September calendar items. Additional upcoming events include “The Laramie Project” at Celebration Theater on October 10th and a No Place For Hate talk back with the actors on October 12th. Fall leaf pickup starts on October 20th. Mr. Wagner mentioned that Sofa Cinema kicks off their new season on September 27th and viewings are held at the Baptist church at LaCrosse and Lansdowne Avenues.

Council President’s Report

President Wayne thanked the LEDC and all individuals on the Arts Festival Committee who put on this year’s successful show.


Public Safety

Ms. Coleman reported that the Public Safety Committee met on September 10th to discuss the emergency services activity resolution regarding liability coverage for the Borough firefighters. The emergency vehicle access program was also discussed and the new parking restrictions will take effect by mid-October. The time restrictions are now 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on the west side of East and Windermere Terrace for parking. In addition, the West Windermere Terrace allowable footage from Baltimore Avenue for parking restrictions will be included in the resolution. Ms. Coleman mentioned that the hiring process for part time police officers was also discussed and the guidelines have been revised. The next Public Safety Committee will be held on October 8th at 7:00 p.m. Ms. Coleman mentioned that the current Borough newsletter contains an interview with Sgt. Eidel regarding what residents can do about crime prevention and about partnering with the police department in this regard to maintain a high quality of life in Lansdowne.


Ms. Lustgarten reported that a new actuarial firm, Thomas Anderson, Inc., has been engaged to manage the Police Pension and Non-Uniform Pension Funds. They have completed the 2009 Minimum Municipal Obligation of $337,910 which is $20,000 less than the 2008 MMO. Ms. Lustgarten reported that the Delaware County Solid Waste Authority tipping fee program was originally for $172,000 and the new amount is now $91,000 for 2009 that reflects a $25 increase per household trash fee. This is not a final number and further discussions are expected. The next Finance Committee meeting will be held on October 6th at 7:00 p.m. Mayor Young mentioned that the trash fee is based on tonnage and if recycling numbers increase, the tipping fee will decrease. President Wayne indicated that the County now wants to pass their $3.4 million tax obligation onto local municipalities and taxpayers and asked if the Borough’s trash can be taken to another site. Mr. Scott indicated this was not an option. Mr. Wagner asked if $3.4 million in tax savings would be expected from the County. Ms. Lustgarten indicated no, as the County needs the money for other projects, presumably none of which would benefit Lansdowne. Ms. Silzle urged residents to engage with the Delaware County Council and to write to the local Congressman in this regard.

Economic Development

Mr. Wagner indicated the Economic Development and Codes Committee met on September 16th. Architect Tom Comitta was a guest at this meeting and offered some innovative ideas regarding redevelopment in the Borough. Mr. Wagner reported that a working artists forum was held on September 8th with the goal of increasing artist activity within the Borough.


Ms. Silzle reported the Environment Committee met on September 16th and had ongoing discussions with Bill Johnson of the public works crew regarding revising the trash and recycling policies. A number of factors were taken into account in this regard, i.e., resident input from the survey, the proposed tipping fees to be imposed by the Delaware County Council for 2009 and the 2009 budget planning process. The Committee will be bringing all recommendations to the October 1st business meeting so that appropriate decisions/strategies for public education and enforcement can be made. Ms. Silzle reminded residents to be mindful of how their trash is gathered i.e., securely bag trash, don’t overload the cans, collect yard waste, recycle all cans, plastics, glass and paper items and boxes and take unusually large amounts of trash to the curb. The Borough sanitation workers now have the authority to leave inappropriate items or poorly handled trash such as contractor debris, bulk items and loose garbage.Ms. Silzle gave the August recycling numbers: recycling is up 4% from August 2007 and the diversion rate is now 13.5%, up 12.5% from last month. The Committee has changed the meeting schedule going forward and all future meetings will be held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in Council chambers. The next meeting will be held on October 9th.Ms. Silzle mentioned that on August 26th the Department of Environmental Protection performed an aerial treatment over the Southeast portion of the country for West Nile Virus, as an alarming rate of infected mosquitoes has been found. The DEP recommends disposing of any item that could hold standing water. Ms. Silzle also reported that smoking in most public places has been banned throughout most of Pennsylvania effective September 11, 2008. To report non-compliant business, call 1-877-835-9535. President Wayne indicated that one bat can eat about 1000 mosquitoes in one hour and that bat houses are available for sale.


Mr. Urban reported that the Education and Recreation Committee will meet on September 25th at 7:30 pm. The Park and Recreation Board met on September September 15th to discuss Park Day which will be held on September 20th at Hoffman Park. The rain date for the Marlyn Park Guide walk will be October 4th.


Mr. Lee reported that the Infrastructure Committee will meet on September 23rd at 7:30 pm. Discussions are ongoing regarding the Scottdale Road sewer projects and the roads program is expected to soon be completed. Ms. Coleman questioned the lighting status. Mr. Lee indicated discussions were held with a contractor and maintenance issues are being discussed as well as budgetary issues for next year.

Liaison Reports

  1. Library Board – Ms. Silzle reported that interviews have been held with several candidates regarding the Library Director position. The Library Board has made some policy changes regarding children in the library: (1) children 8 and under must now be supervised by a parent or adult caregiver, and (2) any child without the supervision of a parent or guardian who cannot behave in a manner appropriate to a public library will have their parent or guardian contacted. If no contact can be made and the child is unable to go home on his/her own, the child will be escorted to either their home or the police station. This policy has been enacted for the safety and well being of the child, other patrons and the library staff.


There were no communications.

Mr. Lee moved to Suspend Roberts Rules of Order. Mr. Wagner seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


There were no visitor comments.

Comments from Borough Council Members:

There were no comments from Council

Ms. Silzle moved to Reinstate Roberts Rules of Order. Ms. Lustgarten seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Old Business

  1. Redevelopment Authority – Mr. Wagner opened the discussion by outlining the scope of what a local Redevelopment Authority is permitted to do regarding properties. Mr. Wagner explained that the current County Redevelopment Authority assists Lansdowne in some projects but a local entity would be more in tune with the Borough’s needs. This local authority could transfer real estate to secure financing for different development projects within the Borough and could exercise eminent domain, the procedure by which blighted properties are taken from the owner for their fair market value. The authority would need its own financial resources to buy these properties. The authority would also be useful in preventing speculation on the part of individuals. Members would be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by Borough Council. The area of authority would be limited to the central business district; the authority would not currently have the authority to deal with residential properties and a separate Board in Lansdowne would be needed to deem residential properties as blighted. The Borough’s redevelopment plan now roughly comprises the Septa R3 line’s lower area, up Lansdowne Avenue through the main business district to Lacrosse and a small part of Owen and Stewart Avenues. Mr. Urban had concerns about the funding mechanisms, indicating that the Borough would have to take on the financial obligations of any failed redevelopment authority projects. President Wayne expressed support for this authority but had questions about legal counsel requirements and if any required insurance for officers and directors would be separate or covered under the Borough’s insurance policy. Mr. Wagner indicated that the current aim is to get this authority on the books and there is no request for money at this time. President Wayne indicated that under 35 PS 1709 of the redevelopment law the authority would not need Borough approval to initiate any project. Mr. Scott mentioned that the authority could be covered under the Borough’s insurance policy and that hiring separate legal counsel would require money that is permissible only by the Borough. President Wayne questioned Item D regarding the ability of the authority to act as an agent for the Borough and what their powers would be in this regard. Mr. Scott indicated that the Borough (the “principal”) would delegate to the authority (the “agent”) and that the authority could not bind the Borough without the Borough’s consent. Mr. Urban again expressed concerns about a future rogue authority that could conceivably jeopardize the future economic welfare of the Borough. Mr. Lee expressed concerns as well, stating that he would be opposed to such an authority until a framework was in place and that working within the County’s redevelopment system would be preferable before starting a local authority. Mr. Lee indicated that he would also like to see this project put into the current budget rather than dealing with it at a future date.Mr. Wagner indicated that there are high standards in place for establishing what constitutes a scattered site blighted property and that any redevelopment authority plans would have to be consistent with the Borough’s current Redevelopment Plan. Ms. Silzle questioned the current thresholds that have to be met in this regard. Mr. Scott indicated that properties in the current redevelopment area can be taken by eminent domain by the County redevelopment authority (or the proposed Borough redevelopment authority) and the district is grandfathered until 2012. The scattered site residential properties issue involves liens, title problems, code violations, etc.
    President Wayne questioned other sections of the ordinance regarding rezoning, replanning, perpetual succession and securing secured or unsecured loans. Mr. Scott confirmed the following: (1) the authority independently cannot zone, plan, rezone or replan any part of the municipality; (2) the authority would need a consent or a warrant to enter any property or building to make surveys or soundings; (3) appointments to the authority are made by the Mayor and approved by Borough Council and are for a five year term; (4) the authority would have the power to issue subpoenas; and (5) the authority could obtain secured or unsecured loans independent of Borough Council. Mr. Urban reiterated that if the authority defaults on a loan, any property that was given to them by the Borough would be lost. Mr. Scott indicated that the Borough could convey money with conditions in this regard but President Wayne felt that this might be unwise given the future effect of those conditions and felt it would be a decision for the current or future Borough Council if the issue arises.
  2. American Rivers DEP grant – Ms. Silzle revisited the possibility of applying for the DEP $15,000 cash grant for 2009 and 2010 ($7,500 per year incurred by the Borough) that was discussed at last month’s Business meeting. Mr. Totaro presented additional information in this regard: this grant is an extension of American Rivers working with the work camp over the next two years regarding storm water management. American Rivers has already been active in the Borough with restoring Darby Creek and the organization does planning, design and construction work. The application is for prioritizing storm water hot spots and picking one project. It would be an 18 month cycle from October 2009 through March 2011. Mr. Totaro indicated that in four years storm water will be metered and the Borough will be charged a higher proportion of the bill for rainwater runoff. Currently many properties in the Borough have downspouts that are connected directly to soil pipes and there is no place for rainwater runoff. This issue qualifies as a priority in the first phase of the funding as it impacts the Borough’s revenues. Another in kind project is the work camp and rain barrel projects that would impact the Borough’s Delcora bill. It remains to be seen which method will work best for residents and the environment. Michael Schleigh, the Delcora representative for Lansdowne, was present to comment on the project. Ms. Silzle moved to Suspend Roberts Rules of Order. Ms. Coleman seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
    Mr. Schleigh reported that Delcora informed the Darby Joint Authority today that there was a discrepancy in the billing for the past three years for the Darby Creek Authority allocation of the sewage pumped through the Authority to the Delcora treatment plant, then to Philadelphia. It was determined that the Darby Creek meter was broken and approximately $741,000 will be owed by the Joint Authority to Delcora. President Wayne indicated this was the second time in the past few years that there has been a problem with the allocations, resulting in Lansdowne having to pay additional funds to cover the errors. Mr. Schleigh indicated that it was represented at today’s Delcora meeting that the money would not be budgeted back to the municipalities this year and would be paid quarterly over the next two years with current available Joint Authority funds. Ms. Coleman questioned if the American Rivers grant proposal covers implementation and planning. Mr. Totaro indicated that the Borough would be applying for the second phase after 18 months to begin the implementation segment. Mr. Urban indicated he was unclear as to what this grant entails. President Wayne stated that the application deadline was October 20th and asked if Borough Council would prefer acting on it tonight or later. After further discussion a motion was made to accept the proposal.Ms. Silzle moved to authorize the Borough to participate with American Rivers to make application for the storm water management planning grant, not to exceed $15,000 over the next two years. Ms. Lustgarten seconded. The discussion continued wherein Mr. Totaro indicated this is the most acute rain water issue, as MS4 issues are going to require retro fittings to accommodate capturing storm water. Concerns were raised by Mr. Lee and Ms. Coleman regarding details of the plan and the timing of the project. President Wayne requested that more information be obtained from American Rivers before voting and asked that the plan also address the flooding issue on Union Avenue and how to redirect the storm water now going into the Borough’s sewers. Mr. Lee moved to table the original motion. Mr. Urban seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

President Wayne called for a five minute recess.

New Business

No items for new business.

Action Items

  1. Ms. Lustgarten moved to approve bills for the period. Mr. Lee seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
  2. Adoption of Ordinance No. 1243 regarding the Redevelopment Authority deferred to October business meeting.
  3. Ms. Coleman moved to advertise Ordinance 1235, an Ordinance of the Borough of Lansdowne prohibiting parking on the West side of the street on East and West Windermere Terraces. Ms. Silzle seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
  4. Ms. Coleman moved to reappoint Dale Cranmer to the Human Relations Commission for a five year term ending 9/30/2013. Ms. Lustgarten seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
  5. Mr. Wagner moved to grant Farmers Market expanded use of Borough Parking Lot #2 for Community Day on Saturday, October 18, 2008. Ms. Silzle seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
  6. Ms. Coleman moved to adopt Resolution No. 2008-15, a resolution regarding The Lansdowne Fire Company, their members and duties. Ms. Lustgarten seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
  7. Ms. Coleman moved to approve revised guidelines for hiring part-time police. Mr. Urban seconded and a roll call vote was taken. The motion carried unanimously. Discussion: The Civil Service model will be used but the part time police will not be considered civil servant employees.
  8. Mr. Wagner moved to accept recommendation of the Historical Architectural Review Board, that a Certificate of Appropriateness, 2008-13 be issued to ShawnZ Hair, 5 North Lansdowne Avenue, for signage. Ms. Coleman seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
  9. Ms. Lustgarten moved to accept the 2009 Minimum Municipal Obligation (MMO) of $337,910 for the Police Pension Plan and $89,759 for the Non-Uniform Retirement Plan. Ms. Silzle seconded and a roll call vote was taken. The motion carried unanimously.

Executive Session

Ms. Silzle moved to adjourn to Executive Session to discuss one litigation and two personnel issues. Mr. Lee seconded and the motion carried unanimously. The meeting adjourned to Executive Session at 10:35 p.m.

Public Session

Upon reconvening to Public Session, the following motion was made:
Mr. Lee moved to oppose the Zoning Hearing Board variance request by Augustina Salon for 24 North Lansdowne Avenue and to authorize the Borough Solicitor to represent the Borough at the hearing. Mr. Wagner seconded and a roll call vote was taken. The motion carried unanimously.


Ms. Lustgarten moved to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Mr. Wagner. The
motion carried unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 11:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Ann Henry
Borough Secretary

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