Bickering adds 3 hours to Ford City meeting
By Brigid Beatty
Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 1:06 a.m.
FORD CITY — Those attending Monday's borough council meeting may have wished council's discussions concerning last month's meeting minutes might have been kept short and sweet.
Instead, the issue raised during the meeting disintegrated into bickering that helped push the duration of the meeting past the three-hour mark.
President Lou Vergari asked council to table a vote to accept the minutes from the May 13 meeting until he had sufficient time to review them.
The reason, said Vergari, was because Councilman Jerry Miklos had amended the minutes two days after the May 13 meeting by adding an extra page of additional quotes after listening to a recording of the meeting.
“I have no problem with this,” said Vergari, but said he wanted to make sure that all quotes attributed to him were accurate and had not been taken out of context.
Councilwoman Kimberly Bish pointed out that the issue over how minutes were recorded had been discussed at length in previous meetings. The decision had been voted on, she said, acknowledging that the minutes did not have to be recorded word for word.
Bish asked: “Why are we going through this again and again?”
Councilman Paul Harmon accused Miklos of wasting time before council voted 6-0 to table accepting the minutes.
Squabbling continued after council voted to pay borough bills totaling $86,123.17. Miklos took issue with a sum of $10,000 of that amount charged by Maher Duessel, the auditing company contracted by the borough to review its finances.
He argued that council might find a better rate with another company.
However, councilman Rob Mohney noted the borough was under contract with the firm for two more years.
Miklos also took issue with the fact that fluoride was added to the town's drinking water at a cost to the borough and said he thought there should be more public discussion on the safety of fluoride use.
Arguments became heated and council members actually received a scolding from a member of the public for their personal attacks on one another.
Council voted 5-1 to pay the bills as approved by council. Miklos opposed it.
A measure of decorum returned when the borough engineer, Jim Garvin, gave an update on the water plant progress. He told council that the Clean Water grant (totaling around $460,000) is due to expire on June 30.
However, he said, borough secretary Lisa Bittner has filed for an extension of those grant funds. A portion of that money has already been allocated for leak detection sensors (around $28,000), for five water flow meters (around $102,000) and for mapping the project (around $65,000).
Garvin said council needed to authorize the purchase of a Toughbook laptop computer to work in conjunction with the sensors to detect leaks. That expense could be covered under the sensor portion of the grant, he said.
“We're optimistic we'll get the (grant) extension,” Garvin said after the meeting.
Council voted 6-0 to purchase the laptop at a cost not exceeding $4,000 and voted 6-0 to purchase the five flow meters for $102,376.
Vergari brought up a matter concerning the future of the Ford City High School building after the proposed new high school is built in Manor Township. He noted that discussions among the county, municipalities and the school district would examine the future use of former schools as Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zones (KOEZ).
That means if someone purchased the building from the school district, the borough would not receive any tax money for 10 years, said Vergari.
“But on the positive side, it may provide incentive for someone to develop the property,” he said.
Comments from the public, however, focused less on the school and more on issues regarding sidewalks in need of repair, flooding storm drains and the nuisance of loud speeding trucks traveling through town.
Council members acknowledged the complaints and said they would look into it.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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