Borough to pave, refinances debt

PAT FRIDGEN

If Greencastle borough manager Kenneth Womack can find extra money in the budget, a few streets will still get paved this fall. Public works director Dave Nichols spoke to the council Sept. 7 on the streets at the top of his list, North Jefferson and Mifflin Lane, then East Dahlgren, and if possible, Franklin.

He had obtained prices on tar and chip, which ran $5 per square yard, designed to last five to seven years, though some streets had gotten a decade of service. Blacktop was $7.25 per square yard for up to a dozen years, depending on the quality of the base.

"I want to see us more aggressive on maintenance," Nichols said. "The bad roads are starting to beat the road construction projects."

Council approved Womack setting aside up to $25,000 for street improvements, with Nichols allowed the discretion to cut as money dictated. The project will be bid.

President Charles Eckstine announced that the Beautification Committee had discussed the issue of yard waste removal. It had stated that since not everyone had a need for brush, leaves, limbs and garden refuse to be hauled away, it shouldn't be handled by the borough at taxpayer expense. Therefore, the committee urged the borough to find a location for people to bring their waste.

While the burn ban was to expire Sept. 8, council voted to extend it until the October meeting. Craig Myers, who works with Franklin County Emergency Services, said it was receiving many calls yet on grass fires and no significant rain was forecast.

Saving in the long run

John Cox from the law firm Rhoades and Sinon, and Scott Shearer from Public Financial Management presented the options for refinancing Greencastle's 2004 general obligation bonds, in the amount of $1.8 million. Council members Eckstine, Myers, Duane Kinzer, Harry Foley, Mark Singer, Matt Smith and Paul Schemel had evaluated the figures from last meeting, and approved the motion with the 2010 bonds also expiring in 2025. The move was expected to save $70,000 per year, with the annual payment dropping to $126,000.

The council members also approved an agreement with Keytex Energy through FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. to purchase energy at a fixed price from Jan. 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013. The rate was 6.09 cents per kW-h. The broker puchased power on the futures market. Council also extended the street light agreement with Allegheny Power to December 2013. In May it had signed an agreement at 6.08 kW-h until May 2011. Allegheny then offered to lengthen the contract. Womack estimated in a written report that Greencastle was saving over $400 a month and that could go up once the electrical rate caps expired in January.

Other business

An amended property maintenance code was discussed, with the main change the appointment of a code enforcement officer. All were in favor except Kinzer. He didn't want the code book to get thicker if policies weren't going to be enforced, as was currently the case. Mayor Robert Eberly said police officers were doing it now, but a designated person from the borough would be better. Womack was the logical choice. The borough's solicitor will draft and advertise the amendment.

Following the announcement that the borough would have to kick in up to $15,000 to cover the shortfall in the employees pension fund, Kinzer acknowledged they had no choice, but criticized laws that required that action.

"Each of us has taken a bath in the last few years and no one came knocking on my door to help fill my void. Companies have to make the best of it. Everyone should share in the loss, not the taxpayers picking it up."

Citizen Wade Burkholder asked the borough to do a traffic study at Washington and Baltimore streets. He had witnessed people making illegal left turns from Baltimore, tying up traffic. The matter was referred to the Public Safety Committee. Eckstine said there were other traffic issues as well.  The committee was investigating the cost of a traffic study at South Washington and Leitersburg streets for a four-way stop. It also recommended police crack down on people riding bicycles, roller blades and skateboards on Center Square.