Councilor Rhoads Explains Why He Could Not Approve Salary Increases For Pottstown Borough Manager and Chief Of Police

Pottstown’s Sixth Ward Councilor and “man of the people” cast the only NO vote at tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting for raises for the Borough Manager and Chief of Police.

Here are Councilor Rhoads’ reasons for his NO vote:

For those who continue to say how rosy things are, look at the real picture and talk to the person who:

Just lost his job

Can’t find work

Had his pay cut

Is on a fixed income

Cannot pay his bills

Lost his house to Sheriff Sale

Lost his health insurance

Is in financial trouble due to severe health issues

Is just plain struggling

I have talked to many people with these situations.

The house across the street from me is empty because the person just up and left it. 

A house two blocks away on Queen Street is empty because the family abandoned it.

Some neighbors behind me recently walked away from their house.

A house a block away on South Roland Street just sold at Sheriff Sale.

A house just a few doors away is going to be empty due to Sheriff Sale.

A house three doors away has been for sale for almost a year.

Wednesday’s Mercury lists at least five more Sheriff Sales in the Sixth Ward alone.

Need I say anymore?

With all these issues, I cannot vote for this and the following item on the agenda.

Pottstown Council Approves Raises For Borough Manager And Police Chief

Two agenda items on this evening’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting were the approval of contract addendums for Jason Bobst, Borough Manager and Mark Flanders, Pottstown Chief of Police.

Basically the contact addendums are raises.  Council was asked to approve a three percent increase for both gentlemen.

Councilor Rhoads read from a prepared statement on why he would vote no in both of these instances. (I will make this statement available in another post).  There was no other discussion.

A roll call vote was taken with Councilor Rhoads casting the only NO vote.  Mr. Bobst’s salary was increased to $96,820.00 for the 2011 calendar year.  Mr. Bobst’s benefits include a vehicle for business use and his dues for the ICMA ($800).  Mr. Bobst was exempted from the borough residency requirement but must live within 15 miles of Pottstown.  He currently resides in Douglassville.

Mr. Flanders’ salary was increased to $100,425.00 for the 2011 calendar year.

Pottstown Borough Council Approves New Planning Commission Member

Pottstown Borough Council accepted, with regret, the resignation of Karen Weil from the Pottstown Planning Commission effective March 1, 2011.

The next motion on the agenda asked Council to approve Ms. Weil’s replacement.  Planning Commission Chair, Dan Weand recommended Dan Schmoyer, who submitted his application last month when Mr. Hylton’s seat was up for grabs and went to Andrew Kefer.  Mr. Schmoyer resides in the 1300 block of Queen Street.

Council unanimously approved Mr. Schmoyer to the Planning Commission, to fill Karen Weil’s unexpired term, until February 1, 2013.

Several councilors expressed their appreciation for the years of service Karen Weil gave to Pottstown Borough.

Pottstown Borough Council Supports The Arts

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

One of the agenda items at tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting was:

8.  Motion to approve the submission of an application to the Montgomery County Community Revitalization Board and prioritize from the following projects:

  1. Western Gate
  2. Gallery on High
  3. Pottstown Skyline Lighting Project

Councilor Joe Kirkland made a motion to change the order making the Gallery on High the first priority, the Skyline Project would be second and the Western Gateway would be third. 

After making his motion, Councilor Kirkland spoke in favor of the Gallery on High in downtown Pottstown.  People attending shows, exhibits and classes can then take advantage of their proximity to places like the Brick House, Juan Carlos, Funky Lil’ Kitchen and other downtown bars, restaurants and shops.  In light of the recent budget cuts in Harrisburg, the Gallery School has offered to partner with Pottstown School District in the event arts funding is severely cut or eliminated so students will still have this important educational component.

Councilor Chomnuk disagreed and stated he preferred the Western Gateway be made the number one priority as it would be more beneficial to Pottstown.  Since the Gallery Building was already renovated, Chomnuk did not think the Gallery on High’s project would be approved by the county.

Councilor Allen agreed with Councilor Chomnuk.  She did express her feelings that the Gallery on High does good things but she feels the Western Gateway would be more beneficial.

Councilor Rhoads spoke in favor of the Gallery on High because they are an existing business and contribute to downtown Pottstown.  (If the Gallery could buy their building and make the necessary renovations to the third floor, basement and reconfigure their current layout, the Gallery could contribute even more to downtown Pottstown.)

Councilor Weand spoke in favor of the Gallery on High for many of the same reasons listed above.  He sees the benefit of having a thriving business on High Street that brings people into downtown Pottstown “our mall”.

President Toroney spoke in favor of the Gallery on High. The arts are listed in the Urban Land Institute Report as a way to revitalize downtown Pottstown and we should follow the suggestions of this study.  He also recognizes the contribution the Gallery and TriPAC make to our downtown.  President Toroney and his wife attended “The Crucible” production at the TriPAC and he stated he only recognized about three people.  People are coming into Pottstown from outside the borough to attend these productions.

Councilor Gibson did not speak as he was not present at tonight’s meeting

After much discussion, a roll call vote was taken:

Allen – NO

Chomnuk – NO

Kirkland – Yes

Rhoads – Yes

Weand – Yes

Toroney – Yes

Gibson – absent

Mr. Kirkland’s motion passed making the Gallery on High proposal the borough’s number one priority when applying for these county funds.

Cathy Paretti, Co-Founder and Director of the Gallery addressed Council during the comments from citizen’s present, before the vote.  Mrs. Paretti asked Council to please make this project a priority.  She explained that if the Gallery could buy their building they could make the necessary renovations to expand their presence downtown and services to residents.  Cathy also mentioned that the Gallery has a great relationship with the Pottstown School District and if arts education gets cut from the budget, due to decreased funding from Harrisburg, the Gallery would be there to pick up the slack.  Also present in a show of support was Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Gallery School, Erika Hornburg-Cooper.

Roy’s Rants gives Pottstown Council two thumbs up for supporting an existing downtown business, supporting the arts and paying attention to the ULI Report’s recommendations to move Pottstown forward. 

We hope the county sees the wisdom of this decision.  Jason Bobst, Borough Manager and Erica Weekly, Assistant to the Borough Manager will be presenting this proposal to the county so I feel we are in good hands as they are excellent public speakers who can effectively articulate our needs.