Laceyville Borough Council vote on Tuesday, Aug. 9 to hire Kevin Costello of Tunkhannock as a part time police officer for the borough.
Costello’s hiring was approved unanimously by council on a motion made by Kristy Johnson, and seconded by Keith Pennay.
Costello was hired on the recommendation of Mayor Phil Brewer, who said that the candidate had been interviewed for the position. Costello, a Wyoming County Sheriff’s deputy, was hired at $13 an hour, and will be assigned to a regular schedule upon completion of a 90-day probationary period. Brewer explained that an additional officer is needed in the borough to assist Patrolman Donald Hornlein due to increased drug activity and suspicious characters in the borough.
In the police report, Brewer said the borough had 11 calls to service in July. There were three calls to assist other police; two incidents of retail theft; one call to assist a motorist; one call to assist the public; one incident of domestic dispute; one littering complaint; one case of theft; one Title 35 drug arrest; two criminal arrests; and two traffic citations issued.
During the police committee report, Hornlein requested that the borough purchase a good laptop computer and a mount for one of the patrol cars.
The reason, he explained, is to allow him an other officers to use the new county-wide communication system which allows direct contact between all police computers, allowing them to share information, and at the same time eliminating radio traffic. Hornlein also asked that a printer be included with the system, because it would allow tickets to be generated without having to write them out by hand.
“It’s a very, very good system,” Hornlein explained.
Hornlein estimated the cost of the laptop and other items at $1,500 to $2,000.
Council decided to contact Public Safety Director Jeffrey Porter at the Wyoming County Communications Center to determine what type of laptop would have the most compatible specifications to work with the communications system.
Council was informed by Treasurer Ken Johnson that it will have to incorporate in stages its plan to reduce from seven to five its number of members.
Johnson explained that he had been in touch with Shelley Houk, Director of Research for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. Houk told him that council must first go through the process to reduce its size by one member, then must repeat the process in order to eliminate the second council position.
Council voted last month to begin the procedure to reduce its size by two members on a suggestion made by Kristy Johnson. She pointed out that the council is now at five members, and has been having trouble filling the two vacancies.
According to the Pennsylvania Municipal Code for boroughs, the borough must obtain signatures from at least five percent of the registered voters in Laceyville, in order to petition the courts to allow the question to be placed on the ballot. Ken Johnson told the council that he had spoken to Director of Elections/Voter Registration Florence Ball, and based on the information she provided, he determined that eight registered voters will need to sign the petition.
Ball later reported that there are 148 registered voters in Laceyville Borough.
Johnson recommended that council obtain at least 15 signatures because the petition would carry more weight when presented to a judge.
The judge will then rule on if the question of reducing the size of the council can be placed on the ballot of the next municipal election, where it will be decided by the voters.
Borough secretary Courtney Salsman said she will distribute copies of the petition for signatures to the local post office and Community Bank.
Council was under the impression last month that it could eliminate both positions on one petition. However, Johnson reported on Tuesday that the borough must go through the process separately for each position.
“We have to do it in stages, one at a time,” Johnson said, explaining that it will require two municipal elections.
“There are no shortcuts, otherwise it will be invalid.”
Council decided by consensus to continue sending water bills directly to landlords for their rental properties. Some landlords have been asking that the borough send the water bills directly to their tenants. However, it was pointed out during the discussion that such a practice will not be practical because a lien could not be placed on the property if a tenant fell behind in his water payments. Ken Johnson said he spoke to borough solicitor Chad Salsman as well as Paul Litwin, the solicitor for the water authority, and both recommended against the idea of billing tenants. Council announced that it will be sending letters to all landlords in the area, informing them that they will continue to be billed directly for water on their rental properties.
During the Parks Committee report, Chairman Chris Shaffer informed the rest of the board he met earlier with Christine Dettore of the Department of Conservation and National Resources, concerning the status of Dononvan Park.
Last month, council was informed via a letter from Dettore that there were several minors issues at the park concerning compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This information not well received by several council members, who felt the DCNR had not right to interfere under such circumstances.
Shaffer reported during the meeting that Dettore told him all that had to be done was put up a sign at the park, indicating that is in compliance with DCNR guidelines. Shaffer said he has already done this. Shaffer cautioned that Dettore also informed him that if any improvements are made at the park, they must be within the guidelines of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
In other business:
*Salsman informed the council that paving is expected to begin on Sept. 6 on Franklin and Second streets, which will close the streets. Residents will be notified in advance before this occurs.
*Council agreed to order signs announcing curfew hours within borough, as well as banning skateboarding on Main Street.
*At the request of Ken Johnson, the council agreed to send a representative on Sept. 21 to the Wyoming County Association of Townships official dinner.