This Meeting was recorded for Accuracy
Present: Amy Lickenfelt, Sue Bartow, Ron Betts, Clark Baird, Mayor Tom Pickup, Jeffery Miller, Solicitor.
Absent- Mark Scribe
Special Guests" Michael Foreman, George Dougherty, the Wagner Family"
Public Attendance - Ligonier Echo - Alexander Ashcroft, Melissa Miller, Pam and Joe St. Clair, Nat Dipofi, John and Gwen Kovac
Meeting called to order at 6 PM by Amy.
Michael Foreman started the meeting for Early Intervention Program. Presentation of the first three steps were reviewed by George Dougherty.
After extensive research Mr. Dougherty has come to the conclusion that
1: Bolivar is a fiscally healthy local government with substantial financial reserves and ongoing ability to pay its bills. Also Bolivar is a local government that provides fewer and fewer services of value to its citizens due to increasing expenditures.
2: Bolivar has experienced a 15% structural surplus since 2012. However, the structural surplus is largely due to the borough providing fewer services of value to citizens.
3: Warning signs were indicated regarding Revenue, Per Capita, Real Estate Tax Revenue, and Earn Income Tax Revenues.
4: A review of municipal real estate tax rates the Ligonier Valley School District revealed Bolivar's 10 mill levy is average for the district. This finding leaves room for the Borough to raise taxes as necessary to provide new services or counter the effects of inflation.
If they raised the millage to provide additional services to the citizens 1 mill equals approximately $2100.00
5: The tax review also revealed that Bolivar Borough had not taken advantage of the Commonwealth's authorization to charge a higher Local Services Tax of $52.00 ($47 to the Municipality, $5. to the school district). Effective as of January 1 2017, Bolivar did in fact increase this fee.
6: The Borough's decreasing expenditures was due to not being able to hire a police officer for the town.
7: Bolivar will continue the elevated spending on streets and infrastructure maintenance witnessed in 2016.
The first stage (Steps 1, 2, 3) of the Early Intervention Program focused on Bolivar's financial affairs. The results show the Borough is not in fiscal distress, but provides only basic services to community members. Because of the Borough's limited service offerings, it employs very few individuals and no full time employees, thereby calling into question the purpose and content of the traditional management review stage of the EIP Program.
Council has constantly put aside funding for a Police Department. If this does not take place then Council will be able to utilize those funds for another useful project in the up-coming year or two.
In steps 4 & 5 of the plan. One of the items is to set aside for the streets, ball-fields, infrastructure, or services for the community.
This is the first time I have come into a community and have not found anything negative on how the Borough is run, per Mr. Dougherty.
Ron Betts spoke up by saying the reason why we show a surplus is because we have been setting aside for infrastructure replacement. Currently we have been doing a band-aid effect on the streets.
Amy asked if anyone else had comment on what has been said so far this evening.
Mr. Dougherty has had numerous conversations with town folks and county officials. Each time everyone seems to be on the same conversation area.
1. The ability to provide police services beyond the State Police Response.
2. The need for an economic development plan to improve the business climate and take advantage of the borough's history and natural resources
3. Improved blight abatement and code enforcement efforts.
4. Capital planning with special attention to the Borough's storm sewers.
Sue commented that we received a letter from CDBG that no funds are available for 2017 fiscal year.
Tom also commented that New Florence has accepted the 15 hrs per week police coverage.
New Florence is requesting Bolivar Borough to submit a letter on police coverage.
Mr. Dougherty is looking into ways to utilize the clay from our area for development purposes to draw people into the town.
The Mayor had mentioned to Nat Dipofi, a resident in town who wanted to know about police protection in town because of people running stop signs and traveling faster than speed limit allows.
Pam StClair, stated the borough needs to have things for kids to get involved in.
Melissa, said baseball is gone, basketball courts and tennis courts are gone so there is nothing for the kids to do.
Michael suggested to contact Conservation District and apply for grants for the playgrounds.
The Borough will have to be the party to apply for the grants, and not parks & rec committee.
John Kovac, has stated a new Flood Plan study needs to be conducted. Flood insurance is out of the roof. The Mayor said the county does not acknowledge that there is a dyke
The county says there is no dyke there, therefore the will not acknowledge a flood plan exists.
Parks and Rec and the Council has a breakdown in communication. No-one wants to work together. The legion has donated over $5,000 to the improvement of the parks and no cooperation is between the members.
Pam St.Clair stated the dykes were put in by the Army Corp of Engineer's in the early 70's.
We just now have to prove it.
Pat stated, she has found papers on the dyke when going through old files. She will locate the documents within the next several days.
Melissa asked about Westmoreland County Community Action Program, in buying the homes and doing a rent to buy option. Years ago they were involved with doing this, and did not know if they still did it. Their focus is homeownership and not Section 8 homes.
Mr. Dougherty suggested the time frame of next two months to get response. Beginning of May - final presentation can be done.
Legislation is currently speaking about the State Police coverage proposal charging $25.00 per resident. Smaller communities are considering raising the millage to cover the services. Communities are also looking into the regional police rather than paying the fee to State Police services and awaiting 45 minutes to over an hour or more response time.
EIP meeting has been completed 7:05 PM. Brief recess
Jeffery and Amy opened the town portion of the meeting at 7:10 PM.
Amy asks for public comment:
Pam said good job. No other comment
John wanted to know if we are going to talk about the one-way road sign. Nothing in the paperwork states the town has to pay a $2500 survey before - hand. His understanding is the Borough writes a letter to PENDOT requesting the road be changed to a two way. PENDOT then reviews it, and if they approve then the borough places two way signs up for a six month period, then they can remove the two way signs.
John stated he is not sure where the Solicitor got his information from but this is the documents from the state. Amy asked Jeffery if there is anything else that needs to be done. Jeffery said he will take another look at it. John also asked for a different solicitor to check this out because of conflict of interest. Jeff understands where he is coming from because of the location of his property along the route.
Amy called an executive meeting on the subject. Time is 7:12PM.
Regular meeting restarted 7:15PM. Amy asked Jeffery if there is anything else he can look into. Jeffery said he will show council how he came to the opinion he did. Council should also be aware that he only gives advice. Council makes the decision. Amy said she could read this and not understand this. She trusts his advice on this type of information. Jeffery says taking a quick look at the information, he is assuming the paperwork is talking about something else entirely. John said this is specific for the Borough and not the state and that the information that was sent to him was indeed correct.
Jeffery will do his research and get back to us next week.
John also had another question concerning the vendor license application and ordinance. He questions the fact the Ordinance says coin operated machines. He said the Legion has dollar bill operated machines. He says the Ordinance needs changed to reflect modern times. He wanted to know then how much does he have to pay?
Jeffery, commented the vendor license is only $10.00 per machine. It would cost the Borough more in money to re-advertise to amend the Ordinance to reflect dollar bill machines also.
Amy asked about the storage garage update. Jeffery said we will probably have to re-advertise for bids again.
Amy called an executive session again. Time 7:23 PM
7:25 PM - no action taken.
Pat wanted to know about the advertising. She stated she spoke to Mr. Robson and he stated nothing else needs to be changed on the bid notice. Just the date’s need changed.
She said Mr. Robson said to just let him know the dates when council gets them. He has a family emergency with his father and not sure if he can make the meeting.
Clark motioned for adjournment, Sue 2nd. All in favor. Meeting adjourned 7:30 PM.