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Ford City Council OKs bank letter for water plant

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 1:41 a.m.

FORD CITY — Council moved the borough a step closer to getting its new water treatment plant under way Monday despite a lengthy meeting filled with bickering and contention.

A motion to authorize Council President Lou Vergari to sign a commitment letter from S&T Bank to lend $1,110,000 at a rate of 2.66 percent for 20 years was debated at length before being put to a vote.

Councilman Jerry Miklos asked why quotes were not sought from other banks.

With this council, said Miklos, “it's spend, spend, spend — full speed ahead.”

Borough engineer James Garvin noted that S & T Bank's rate was reasonable and that smaller lending institutions generally did not lend to municipalities.

Council approved the matter, 5-0. Councilman Rob Mohney was absent.

Garvin told council the last permits required by Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection for the water plant were submitted last week.

He said he planned to meet with members of DEP and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority (PENNVEST) to see if there is funding available through PENNVEST for the project.

The project might begin by summer, Garvin said, but a vacant, dilapidated house near the site would need to be demolished.

He said he planned to bring quotes to the next meeting concerning that demolition.

Council voted 4-1 to approve Garvin obtaining quotes. Miklos opposed the measure on the grounds that the decision was made too quickly and without public input.

Garvin said there would be no additional costs associated with getting quotes.

Also discussed Monday was the possibility, raised by Miklos, of reducing the number of council members elected to serve on council.

Miklos said he thought council meetings would run more efficiently if there were fewer council members.

According to Frank Wolfe, borough solicitor, the borough could petition the court to approve the gradual decrease of council members to as few as three — if the population remained below 3,000.

According to the 2010 census, the population of Ford City Borough is 2,991.

Wolfe said when the population goes above 3,000, there would have to be seven members on council.

Councilwoman Kim Bish said that since the populations comes down to the difference of just nine people, she didn't think it would be cost effective to petition the court.

Vergari agreed, saying: “In my opinion, it's too close to call.”

In other matters, council:

• Voted 4-1 to approve the purchase of seven data loggers and a correlator in the amount of $22,385 for the detection of water leaks in the borough. Miklos opposed the measure because he said there was not adequate time to review the information before it was put to a vote.

• Voted 5-0 to purchase 15 used lights totaling $1,125 for the borough building pending recommendation by the borough inspector.

• Heard complaints by resident Hank Commodore who reproached council members for failing to consider other opinions about how taxpayers' money should be spent.

“You have to have respect for each other and the public,” said Hank Commodore.

“It's not your money, it's our money,” he said, before addressing council about his recent issue with a faulty water meter which resulted in an inflated water bill.

President Lou Vergari arranged with Commodore to meet with him, along with other council members to discuss the matter further.

• Announced the county's Hard to Recycle Day will be April 20 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Armsdale Building in Rayburn.

• Announced Ford City Community Day at Kennywood will be on July 20.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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