Pottstown Mayor Bonnie Heath stormed out of tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting after agenda item 7 did not pass (followed by her husband who made a derogatory remark about Council’s collective intelligence). A roll call vote was requested by President Toroney. The vote went as follows: Chomnuk – No, Gibson – Yes, Kirkland– Yes, Rhoads – No, Weand – No, Toroney – No. Councilor Allen was absent.
During the Mayor’s lengthy report, Bonnie spent a great deal of time asking Council to vote yes for agenda item 7 which was a resolution authorizing the filing for funds with Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) in the amount of $60,000 for the Main Street, Exit Grant, New Communities program. What this means to the average taxpayer is that by voting yes the Borough of Pottstown would have been on the hook for the $60,000 matching funds if the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority (PDIDA) failed to raise the other $60,000. If PDIDA failed to raise the necessary $30,000 contribution each year, the Borough of Pottstown, by default, would have had to match the DCED grant.
The Finance Committee recommended that Council vote no because there is too much risk to the Borough to move forward, according to Finance Chairman and Fifth Ward Councilor Dan Weand. The confidence in PDIDA’s ability to match this grant is very questionable. According to Mayor Heath, PDIDA’s assessments would generate $42,000 a year leaving a positive balance for PDIDA of $12,000 each year. Mayor Heath said there is no risk to Pottstown to approve this grant match because the DCED felt PDIDA would be able to match the funding based on their assessment figures.
President Toroney said PDIDA should look more toward volunteerism instead of paying a Main Street Manager. He referenced Pottstown’s Riverfront Park as an excellent example of volunteerism. President Toroney also said that Council does support PDIDA and downtown Pottstown, however, in this instance the majority of Council feels the financial risk is too great. Councilor Kirkland said he was confident that PDIDA would be able to raise the needed funds. Councilor Gibson said he supported PDIDA and voted yes for the resolution but did so “hoping” he made the right decision.
The majority of this money goes to pay the Main Street Manager’s salary. Frankly, my experience with Mr. Wildrick is that he does not return emails. Other than purple lights on the trees downtown and the Hometown Holiday events in December, did we get our bang for the buck in a year and a half????? Evidently there are four members of Council who have the same question. The other project Mr. Wildrick was working on was a skyline project to outline the downtown buildings like Boat House Row. While this is a cool idea, it might make more sense to have a full downtown before we worry about ambient lighting.
Councilor Rhoads wondered how many businesses downtown are doing well. If a number of businesses close that would hamper PDIDA’s ability to generate the sufficient funds to pay the DCED grant match.
President Toroney also stated that PDIDA needs to come up with a vision and a long-range plan. We agree.
Councilor Gibson made the suggestion that PDIDA expand their territory to include more businesses in Pottstown. The example he gave was the High Street Redner’s. Redner’s makes money and as a company they give money to community projects and events in the form of corporate sponsorships. Councilor Gibson said there are businesses that would love to be allowed to join PDIDA but are outside of their limited territory.
This vote means that unless PDIDA finds private sector funding (which is available) they will not have the funds to pay the Main Street Manager’s salary.
My suggestion to PDIDA is that you contact places like Lancaster and York, who have strong downtown organizations, and see what information you can glean from them. I am sure they would gladly be of assistance and would be a wealth of information.
My other suggestion is that Mayor Heath should receive a formal reprimand from Council for leaving the meeting before adjournment. As Councilor Gibson stated, every vote does not go his way but he respects the opinions and decisions of his fellow Councilors and does not get mad about it. Councilors Rhoads and Weand echoed Councilor Gibson’s sentiments and were thanked by President Toroney.
Mayor Heath is an elected official who has an obligation to attend these meetings. Because there were only six Councilors in attendance this evening, had there been a tie vote, the mayor casts the tie-breaking vote. By leaving after agenda item 7, the mayor missed the voting for the remaining six agenda items!
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!
What? No kittens and rainbow speeches?? Say it ain’t so!
Maybe the mayor can ask her husband if he knows any ways to raise some fast cash. There are a lot of banks in Pottstown that maybe the mayor and her husband should approach.
I do agree that a formal reprimand from Council should be forthcoming to address the less than professional behavior of the Mayor. The Mayor is required to attend council meetings to serve as a tie breaking vote, if needed. She should also give the Mayor’s report which more often than not amounts to grandstanding her personal opinions regarding unnamed people and/or groups of people. Council should also address the fact that she inserts herself in Council discussions at meetings. This is inappropriate and should not be tolerated. Her partner’s derogatory remark directed at Council should also be addressed as his behavior was inappropriate as well. Obviously, some individuals believe rules and social etiquette apply only to others. The Mayor’s behavior was truly unacceptable on every level and is an embarrassment to the community.
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Roy, another fine job of reporting, on the same day as the council meeting no less! The Post picked it up, here:
Thanks, and regards,
Joe Zlomek, The Pottstown Post
Mayor Heath is about as UNaccessable as any mayor we’ve ever had! Most people don’t even know who she is and those who do constantly ask me where she is or what she does! Her actions and those of her husband BOTH demand reprimands. She is a disgrace as a mayor and a slap in the face to Pottstown.
Ed, I don’t think approaching banks is a good idea for “Mr Mayor”. . .
A few months ago Ms. Mayor condemned all the “haters” in town. Last night, she herself became one of the “haters”. Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it?
I agree with everything Kathleen said. Her behavior was unacceptable and had this been anyone else, she’d be screaming for their head. She should receive a formal reprimand. I don’t think Council has the cojones to do so, but her actions definitely warrant it. I also take issue with how she interjects her opinions into discussion when it’s not her turn to speak. Just once I’d love to see the Council President shut her up when she does this. But is anyone really surprised by her actions? She thrives on actions that will bring her any kind of coverage or acknowledgement.
Can anyone cite a single thing she has done in her term as Mayor? I mean, take a look around at the crowd reaction anytime she speaks. People roll their eyes, make comments under their breath and do anything other than pay attention to what she is saying. Bonnie Heath couldn’t lead her way out of a wet paper bag, let alone lead this Borough towards any sort of organized cooperation. I don’t think she’ll have any trouble getting beaten in the next mayoral election.
Everyone, please remember this at election time.
Mike, What has elections got to do with Mayor Heath and her childish behavior. She’s not up for re-election. Yet. And when it’s time, she’d better not even bother.
Your right Steve. She won’t be up for reelection this year. I guess what I ment to say was that as voters, we sometimes forget these antics when election time comes.
“Everyone, please remember this at election time” true but more importantly remember the upcoming school board election. HYLTON groomed and supported HEATH for Mayor! Can our borough really afford his hand picked school board candidates, no! It is time to move forward, not backwards.
I highly suggest the Mayor take a look at her behavior before she wags her finger at anyone in the future. What was displayed at Council is nothing short of childish behavior and unworthy of a town trying to revitalize.
How can the residents and community stakeholders be expected to respect the Office of the Mayor, much less the person holding it when news like this circulates?
It is rude & unprofessional to get up during an on-going meeting but as Kathleen points out Ms. Heath was supported by Mr. Hylton in her campaign and getting up during a meeting was okay by him last year (a budget meeting held at the MS) – maybe in her mind that makes it okay. I’d suggest guilt by association but I think this is the way Ms. Heath acts, completely of her own accord. Shame on you and Mr. Craig.
If I was a member of Council I would look to issue a warning to Mr. Craig that an utterance like that again and further action will be considered, up to and including being ban from further meetings. As far as the Mayor, President Toroney should look into what the rights of Council are issuing discipline to the Mayor – they are all elected officals, the title of Mayor makes her no better than anyone else (CLEARLY, her actions show she is unable to compromise and be, at least, cordial and diplomatic).
Grow a pair and move forward. You didn’t get what you had hoped for and that’s life. I agree the ‘yes’ vote was too big a risk, for now – perhaps in the future. If you can’t deal with the reality of the vote in a professional way, please consider stepping down. Pottstown doesn’t need the drama.
Ms. Heath, I think you may just have committed political suicide. I hope you were really upset and that those actions are ones you can live with. I sense some people are finding they can’t live with them and it will cost you their support in the future.
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