Rush Township Building
Hometown, PA 18252
Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Rush Township Board of Supervisors
The special meeting of the Rush Township Board of Supervisors was called to order by Chairman Stephen W. Simchak at 9 o’clock a.m. Those in attendance were Vice-Chairman Shawn Gilbert; Supervisor Robert Leibensperger; Corporal Duane Frederick and Secretary/Treasurer Terri Conville. There were approximately twenty-eight people in attendance and one reporter. The Pledge of Allegiance was then recited.
William J. Sanchez, Jr. – stated that upon review of the budget he noticed there is only $500.00 in storm water piping and $25,000 to do the roads. He wanted to know the specifics of the proposed 1.5 mill increase for infrastructure and roads. Ms. Conville stated that our Solicitor told her to do up a budget sheet for this account for infrastructure. As the tax monies come in, it will be deposited to that account. Sanchez also stated that the amount for the line item for assistant treasurer is zero and the amount for a part time clerk is $21,000. Sanchez wanted to know if there is going to be an assistant treasurer. Simchak stated not at this time. Sanchez wanted to know what Ms. Skripnek’s duties would be and if she would be bonded for the same amount as Terri Conville. Simchak stated Ms. Skripnek will be on a thirty day probationary period and he will check with the bonding company to see what has to be done. Sanchez wanted to know if more money was put in the bonding line. Ms. Conville stated no.
Pat Tracy- questioned why there is a tax increase when Supervisor Leibensperger said to her he was not going to raise them and there is a carry-over in the budget of $328,000.00. Leibensperger explained to Mrs. Tracy that he would do what is necessary to maintain the township even if that meant raising the taxes. Leibensperger asked Mrs. Tracy if she came into the township to review the budget because she would have seen a complete sewer and storm water project that is going on in this budget. Leibensperger expressed his opinion that past administrations did not handle the finances properly.
Marion Lazur – stated she takes exception to the statement made by Supervisor Leibensperger about the prior administration. Lazur noted that the Board was very careful about managing the money. The prior Board did not spend the money on people to attend conventions for three days and things not needed. Lazur feels the Board should wait to raise the taxes and the sewer rates until the economy of the country is better than it is now.
Mr. Boyer – wanted to know what happened to the $900,000 that was in the Hometown Sewer Fund that Morgan’s left. Leibensperger explained that part of it went to pay for EDU rates. Mr. Boyer asked why a Tamaqua High School student could not do the web page instead of paying all that money to a company. Supervisor Leibensperger stated the person needs to be bonded and maintain it from any computer hackers.
Mr. Shamonsky – wanted clarification about the sewer lines that went into Meadow Avenue. Supervisor Leibensperger explained that this area was looked at by our new engineering company, Alfred Benesch. Leibensperger explained that there is ground water coming from the sewer drains.
Two Residents wanted to know why we need a web page. Leibensperger stated the office has gotten many records request forms since the new Right- to- Know Law was passed. The new web page would have all this information on it. All new government rules need to be followed, but there is no money. Leibensperger stated funding for townships was also cut by the government.
George Gerhard – wanted to know where the funds were taken from for the purchase of the Fortunato property. Ms. Conville stated most of the funds came from the Hometown Sewer Investment Fund. Lazur stated she wanted to get the money from the same place as we got the loan from the building, but the other two Supervisors would not go along with her. Past Supervisor Sanchez stated that the original plan was to buy the Fortunato property, sell the sewer building behind the Hometown Fire Company and move the sewer up to this building. The plan was to have everything together and eventually have the payment of sewer bills here. Mr. Gerhard wanted to know if the purchase was legal at the time. Ms. Conville stated it was approved by our Solicitor at that time, Mark Semanchick.
Mr. Boyer – wanted to know what happened to the plan of having the sewer department located in the upstairs area of the new municipal building.
Mr. Tracy- what is going to happen to the Fortunato property that cost $92,000 to purchase? Chairman Simchak noted that it will probably get demolished and used for future expansion.
Mr. Shamonsky – what is the price per hour for the attorneys with the Robbie Romanick hearing. Ms. Conville noted it is $125.00 per hour for our attorneys.
Tom Klein – of Ben Titus Road – what is he getting for his tax dollars because where he lives he gets nothing at all. He also questioned why Supervisor Leibensperger told him at the voting polls that he wouldn’t raise taxes. Mr. Klein stated it sounds like the people in Washington, trying to blame past administrations. Supervisor Leibensperger explained the need to raise them now to fix the roads and get things done. Leibensperger stated Bill McMullen’s estimate to fix the roads would be about fifteen million dollars. Leibensperger stressed the need for everyone to work together and to give the Board their ideas. Leibensperger stated that he will sit down with anyone and explain the future developmental plans for the township.
George Pinkey – suggested to the Supervisors to keep a mileage log book for all the vehicles and let the Supervisors approve them. He stressed the need for continuity in government and questioned the change in engineering firms. The Board should get a good one and stick with it. Mr. Pinkey also expressed his concerns about barring individuals from public meetings and feels the Civil Liberty has a different view on behavior at a meeting.
A resident of Ben Titus Road – suggested that the Board should really take a look at things and make sure they are making the right decision of raising the taxes and the sewer rates. She suggested we all should live by the Commandments.
Jeannine Motroni – wanted to know the payroll for the road department and what their duties are for a normal day. She also wanted to know what the road foreman did before he came to Rush Township. Ms. Conville stated the payroll for the road crew was approximately $ 89,000.00, which includes two full- time workers and one part- time laborer to work up to 32 hours per week. Chairman Simchak noted that Gene Rutch was a paving contractor. Motroni asked if the road department could maintain and fix the roads and did they not do that in the past. Simchak stated that it is not their expertise. Leibensperger stated our road crew guys will be doing trenches and things on Meadow Avenue for the engineer. Leibensperger stated we have a roller, not a paver.
Mr. Shamonsky – wanted to know how the sewer line is tied into the new Turkey Hill. George Pinkey tried to explain this. Chairman Simchak said the plans are in the office for review.
Mr. Sanchez, Jr. – stated since there is no money budgeted for a Police Chief, is the Board planning on hiring one and will the residents still have 24 hour coverage. Chairman Simchak stated the Board is planning on starting a regional police force so we are not doing any major hiring this year. Sanchez also wanted to know if we had received a time or date for the Romanick hearing. Simchak stated the Board has received a time and date for the hearing. At this point the Board doesn’t know if it is opened or closed, so he cannot answer any more questions about it.
Mr. Shamonsky – wanted to know if we hired those part police officers at the last meeting and what were their names. Leibensperger stated they were hired pending background checks.
Pat Tracy – why is everyone hired from Carbon County. Simchak stated that is not true.
A resident asked the Board if they have looked within to make sure items cannot be cut more because you should try to reduce from within. Chairman Simchak stated the sewer rates have to be raised in order to apply for funding.
Mr. Boyer – stated that is not true about raising the rates for funding. Simchak said it is true and he should call Penn Vest. Leibensperger stated the majority of the Board is actively pursuing things and will be applying for grants. Simchak stated the township has already received a grant from NEPA for $7,000 for the conversion of traffic lights on Ben Titus Road to LED’s. Leibensperger also stated the Board has applied for a grant from the Conservation Corps and one from DCNR. The Board may also be eligible to receive 50% back reimbursement for the road study once it is completed. NEPA will assist the township with that. Leibensperger noted that properties are being reassessed in the area and will cause a reduction in our tax base; examples Wal-Mart, TransWestern.
George Pinkey – wanted to know if the lights at the new intersection were going to be LED. He also wanted to know how much money was brought in with the real estate transfer tax in 2009. Ms. Conville noted it was $39,000 for 2009. Mr. Pinkey also stated that Lake Hauto is a boom to the township because the township receives half of one percent for real estate transfer tax.
A motion was made by Supervisor Leibensperger to adopt the amended 2010 proposed budget. Chairman Simchak seconded the motion. For the record, Gilbert voted no. Simchak and Leibensperger voted yes to the motion, carried.
A motion was made by Supervisor Leibensperger to adopt the tax levy Resolution #2010-09. Chairman Simchak seconded the motion. Under the question, Mr. Sanchez asked what the Resolution was for. Simchak stated it was for the tax increase. For the record, Gilbert voted no. Simchak and Leibensperger voted yes to the motion, carried.
A motion was made by Supervisor Leibensperger to adopt Resolution #2010-10 restricting the use of the proceeds from the 2010 tax increase of 1.5 mills for infrastructure, maintenance and improvements. Chairman Simchak seconded the motion. For the record, Gilbert voted no. Under the question, Mr. Sanchez wanted the Board’s explanation for infrastructure. Simchak stated that it is everything we want for the roads. Simchak and Leibensperger voted for the motion, carried.
A motion was made by Supervisor Leibensperger to establish a fund at Mauch Chunk Trust for infrastructure, maintenance and improvements for that tax. Chairman Simchak seconded the motion. For the record, Gilbert voted no. Simchak and Leibensperger voted for the motion, carried. George Pinkey clarified that this money would be put in an account strictly to be used for roads. Simchak stated yes. Mr. Sanchez wanted to know the interest rate on that. Ms. Conville stated she did not set up the account yet and will see what option would best benefit the township. Pat Tracy asked why we are opening the account at Mauch Chunk Trust and not Sovereign Bank. Ms. Conville stated Sovereign Bank charges us a monthly fee and that is why we moved our accounts a few months ago.
A motion was made by Supervisor Leibensperger to adopt Resolution #2010-11 setting the sewer fees for Hometown. Chairman Simchak seconded the motion. For the record, Gilbert voted no. Under the question, Mr. Sanchez wanted to know the rates. Gilbert stated it is $172.00 for Hometown and Lake Hauto is $160.00. Simchak and Leibensperger voted yes to the motion, carried.
A motion was made by Supervisor Leibensperger to adopt Resolution #2010-12 setting the sewer fees for Lake Hauto. Chairman Simchak seconded the motion. For the record, Gilbert voted no. Simchak and Leibensperger voted yes, carried.
A motion was made by Supervisor Gilbert to conditionally approve Plan #230A – Tide Lots 16-20 Revised Final Land Development Plan as noted in the letter from the Rush Township Planning Commission. Supervisor Leibensperger seconded the motion. Under the question, Mr. Sanchez wanted to know what plan that was. Simchak stated it was recommended by the Planning Commission, but their NPDES permits are not turned in yet. All voted in favor of the motion, carried.
A motion was made by Supervisor Gilbert to conditionally approve Plan #231A – Tide Lots 22-24 Revised Final Land Development Plan as noted in the letter from the Rush Township Planning Commission. Supervisor Leibensperger seconded the motion. All voted in favor, carried.
Chairman Simchak adjourned the meeting at 10 o’clock a.m.