UGI will begin construction of a natural gas line in Tunkhannock Borough in the fall.
Tunkhannock Borough Council acknowledged a letter from UGI at its meeting on Thursday that the construction of the line would probably take place from October through December.
Some council members expressed dissatisfaction with the time line. The main concern was that the work will extend into the colder months.
“You can’t blacktop the streets in the winter and put them back into good condition,” Tunkhannock Mayor Norman Ball later explained
On a lighter note, councilman Scott Douthett informed the rest of the council that he had some good news.
The head of the finance committee reported that it would probably not be necessary to raise taxes in the borough next year.
Douthett explained that members have gone over the preliminary budget, and everything appears to be balanced at this point, “with $8 to spare.”
Barring anything unforeseen, he said, the final budget should be approved without any problems.
Douthett thanked borough manager Dawn Welch and other members of council for their assistance in putting the budget together, saying they all made the process easy.
During the financial committee report, council voted to pay $84,867 to the MMO Police fund, and $16,116 to the MMO Non-uniform fund. Douthett explained this is necessary to make up the difference in the borough’s share of those accounts. Tunkhannock had unknowingly underpaid those accounts due to misinformation provided by the borough’s previous financial adviser.
During the police report, council voted to appoint Dustin Cokely as temporary acting corporal on the force through February 2019. Cokely’s appointment will become effective in the next pay period.
Council also voted to request that the state Civil Service board provide the borough with a list of qualified candidates for corporal for the police force, and administer the test to those candidates by February 2019.
Also during the police report, Chief Keith Carpenter reported that extra personnel would be on duty during the first day of school on Sept. 10. School personnel have been instructed to seek out an officer if it becomes necessary to direct traffic.
Carpenter was also asked why the number of traffic stops in the borough is significantly lower, compared to last year’s figures at this time.
The chief explained the borough is down four part-time officers, making it more difficult for those on patrol. He said Tunkhannock and other communities are struggling to replace part-time officers, because fewer people are applying for those positions. He eventually expects to fill the vacancies, but it will take time.
Carpenter also reported that a production company shooting the film Colewell will be in the vicinity of The Blogg on Tuesday, shooting scenes for the movie. The chief said he does not anticipate any disruption.
Ball reported that a small kiosk has been installed at Riverside Park to sell tickets for local train rides when they are offered in the area.
At the request of the Tunkhannock United Methodist Church, council voted to approve the ‘Journey to Bethlehem’ on Dec. 14 and 15. The pageant play will take place in the borough from 5 to 9 on both nights.
During the planning and zoning report, councilman Ben Barziloski expressed concern about the number of attorneys and insurance companies who have been setting up offices along Tioga Street in the downtown area.
While he doesn’t have any objection to such businesses, Barziloski explained, he’s concerned because they do not generate any ‘foot traffic.’ He recommended that the borough look into the possibility of changing the zoning to encourage more traditional businesses in the downtown area.
Council voted to hire Concrete Barrier Sproul Construction to repair the retaining wall at a cost of $4,800. The wall - located across from the post office - was damaged recently when an unknown vehicle struck it, moving it off its foundation. The incident is under investigation by Tunkhannock Borough Police.
Council also voted - with Barziloski abstaining - to hire Ebb’s Creative Landscape to repair the bollard by the Prince Hotel for $6,541. The bollard - a short post used to divert traffic - was recently damaged when it was struck by a car.
Three organizations made the following Payment In Lieu of Taxes to the borough - Triton: $1,500; Children’s Service Center: $1,960; and Bridgewater Church, $200. These organizations are normally exempt from local taxes. However, these and other similar organizations make PILOT payments, in acknowledgement of the services they receive from the borough.
Council acknowledged the receipt of a check for $2,065 from Kilmer Insurance Group of Wyalusing. The money, explained council President Bob Robinson, is a dividend check awarded by the insurance company to good customers.