Council approves committee to study merger concept
Greencastle Borough Council voted 6-1 Monday evening to move forward with the creation of a committee to explore the idea of merging with Antrim Township.
“Voting for this is not an endorsement one way or another,” according to Borough Manager Eden Ratliff, who also said, “We have no idea where this is going to go.”
Council approved a policy to create a joint investigative committee and the measure is expected to be on the agenda at the next Antrim Township supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
Investigating the concept of a merger came out of the borough’s community development committee last month.
Ratliff said he’s heard the idea mentioned by different council members and different community members at different times.
The policy briefing prepared for council says, “The idea was formulated from the fact that it has been suggested that such a merger is inevitable and more beneficial to the community at large.”
Councilman Charles Eckstine, who cast the only no vote, said he is not ready to throw in the towel on the borough yet.
“I think we can stand alone for a long time,” Eckstine said.
Councilman Larry Faight, who chairs the community development committee, said he doesn’t want to throw away Greencastle or the township, but wants to see how they can work together. He said the exploration is in its infancy.
Borough resident Jim Thomas says he agrees with fostering a relationship, but there is a significant difference between fostering a relationship and coming together.
Dave Nichols, the borough’s public works manager, said he has heard various stories about how the notion got started and he thinks it might be a back door entrance to merging the two water companies.
He also said the morale of borough employees has been affected by changes, good and bad, as the borough has transitioned through a number of managers over the past 10 years.
He said employees hear things and ask questions like “Is there something wrong with the borough?” and “Are we not getting the job done?”
“It’s hard to understand what you’re seeking,” Nichols said.
Councilman Craig Myers, who is on the community development committee, said the notion is to explore the pros and cons. He added ultimately a decision would go to the voters as a referendum.
He said the committee would be on a fact-finding mission and he’s had some people tell him, “This is a long time coming.”
Councilman Duane Kinzer said the borough comes first, but if there is a happy medium, he will have to look at it.
The policy approved by council says “The Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township Supervisors are sanctioning the creation of a joint investigative committee to explore the concept of merging the Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township. The recommendation, whatever it may be, will not be final or binding.”
The 10-member committee would include one member each from:
Antrim Township Municipal Authority
Greencastle Area, Franklin County, Water Authority
Antrim Township government (Brad Graham, township administrator)
Borough of Greencastle government (Ratliff)
Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce
Greencastle-Antrim Development Corp.
A township resident not affiliated with either local government
A borough resident not affiliated with either local government
Rescue Hose Co.
Greencastle-Antrim School District
The committee would probably meet monthly for a year, Ratliff said.
Borough resident Robert Wertime asked if the meetings would be open to the public.
Ratliff said that might be up to the committee, while Councilman James Farley said he thinks meetings should be open to the public.
It was noted that there will be some discussions that should not be done publicly.
The policy briefing says, “Due to the sensitive nature and controversial topics the committee will likely discuss we feel as though it would be best for the committee not to report or disclose any information until they are prepared to deliver a final recommendation.”