Tonight’s meeting started as usual, and then it came to the exciting part. Citizen Comments is always, uh, interesting at least. The meeting itself was packed, only a few seats lay empty, and there was quite a bit of chair rearranging. Mr. Frank Doutrich was the first speaker, and started the meeting with a thanks/reprimand about the trees being trimmed down at the recently remodeled River Park. He was glad that they had been trimmed, but complained that we as a borough has the equipment and could have had it done much earlier. He quickly moved on to a query about the half-day closing of the borough offices on June 30th, and said that he had heard rumors on the street that it was for a party for the borough workers. Council President Mary Wickenheiser later confirmed that it was so, and it was later asked by Mr. Tony Mosteller if the party itself was paid for by the taxpayers. Borough Manager Norman Meiskey confirmed that the funds for the party were taken from the ‘Miscellaneous’ portion of the borough budget.
He also asked about the closing of 9 th St. today, and complained that the same state inspector was there as was on many other projects around town that were badly handled. President Wickenheiser said that they were simply milling out loops for the new lights to be placed. Mayor Lutz added that the lights on that street had been malfunctioning for quite a long time, and that the state had had engineers recommend new lights that will reduce car speed when flashing by eighty percent, compared to the fifty percent before. On the fun topic of the 441 relocation project, Mayor Lutz said that it is a Penn Dot project, and we as a town has no say in who works there and what can be done.
Two new part-time code officers were added to the roster, to supplement our full-time code officer. In addition, it was cleared that most properties lines in the borough go to the center of the street, with some exceptions. I always assumed such, but I guess this validates it. The topic of the contract was an object of much contention for a space of ten minutes or so, when Mr. Mosteller brought it up during his part of Citizen Comments. This was violently attacked by President Wickenheiser, during which she said that if the borough workers would just have a sit down, the Council will and has always been open to a contract. She also said that the borough finances are in limbo because they cannot calculate the costs for healthcare and other related things without said contract. The town debt was asked about by Mr. Vernon Detz, who alleged that the figure of 3.4 million was inaccurate, and was actually 5 million. Borough Manager Meiskey said that the figure is correct, and that the other debt is self-liquidating.
After the speakers were done, a representative of the Columbia Heritage River Cottage Association read a statement and asked that the parcel being gifted to the borough by Safe Harbor not be accepted, simply because the cottage owners did not believe that Columbia Borough had their best interests at heart. The lady who spoke lives in Lancaster, and admitted that she had never been to a meeting before. So we only care about Columbia when they can affect us in some way? Not on my watch. The only other thing of note was the approval to borrow $125,000 for repairs and upgrades in the Markethouse and borough, along with the purchase of two new police vehicles.