The meeting was called to order by President Toroney.
Invocation was given.
Pledge of Allegiance
Roll Call – all Councilors were present
Approval Of Minutes – the last council meeting and special budget meeting minutes were approved.
Comments From Citizens Present:
Dave Garner – Requested that Council not adopt the 2011 budget. Mr. Garner feels we are rushing to approve this budget and there is still time to continue looking for ways to cut spending. Dave feels Council is happy to “settle” for 3.1% and basically call it a day. Mr. Garner believes Council should explain and justify the increase and that the public was not given enough time to study the proposed budget.
Don Read – Also commented on the proposed 2011 budget. He agreed with Mr. Garner about amount of time the budget was advertised.
Mr. Read questioned Fund 11 which has a $147,000 deficit. Don suggested that this fund should be offset in the budget with a surplus or a taxpayer “bailout”.
Fund 14 had a $55,000 increase or 40% over last year. This can be increased at council’s discretion. Mr. Read feels the borough should not pay for dependent children to age 26. The employee should bear that cost themselves as it does not benefit taxpayers.
Newstell Marable – President of the Pottstown NAACP wants the new Intermodal Transportation Center named after Charles Dixon.
Mr. Marable again raised the question of renaming Armand Hammer Boulevard to MLK Boulevard. He has spoken with PennDOT and said we should involve Senator Rafferty and PennDOT to get this approved. PennDOT said they are willing to do this. Mr. Marablel said if Lower Pottsgrove Township will not rename their section, Pottstown should rename the section of Armand Hammer Boulevard that falls within the borough.
Mr. Marable also questioned the borough’s minority hiring practices.
Mayor’s Report – Bonnie said the Police Department has been “quiet” lately. She spoke about how well the Hometown Holiday events are going and how these events are bringing people together. The mayor asked people to continue to be involved and thanked everyone for their positive efforts.
Manager’s Report – The Keim Street Bridge. Jason is meeting with North Coventry Township as well as Chester and Montgomery Counties regularly about the impact of this vital link being closed. A traffic impact study revealed that a new temporary signal will be placed at Industrial Highway and Moser Road. There will be a cost sharing with Lower Pottsgrove for the temporary traffic signal and will cost about $5.00 a month for each municipality. The bridge was in far worse shape than originally thought after the inspection was completed.
Jason is having all borough staff attend customer service training and is working with MCCC West Campus to offer this training. This is the result of complaints Jason has received from residents about their dealing with borough staff during his tenure as Manager. (Good idea Jason and glad you are using MCCC West as a resource!)
Our Codes Department is working with Phoenixville and Norristown on the new rental changes software. The group has become a good resource.
The bridge over the “Mighty Manatawy” on High Street will be closed for 12 – 18 months starting in 2011. Construction will hopefully begin in March to replace the bridge. College Drive will be a detour route.
Jason talked about the Fair Housing issue that was raised along with Norristown about the overabundance of Section 8 rentals in Pottstown and Norristown in proportion to the rest of Montgomery County.
Jason talked about the revitalization fund for Montgomery County. It appears there could be $11 million dollars to be divided up between Montgomery County municipalities in 2011.
Jason is looking at making the monthly ward meetings quarterly in 2011 and coming up with a format change to make the meetings more productive.
Jason is looking into a program that could make Pottstown Borough government more transparent (in light of recent comments circulating around town.) He reviewed a model program being used in Ocean City, MD that offers a 14-week course on how municipal government functions. In our case it would be how Pottstown’s government functions. This would be a great tool for residents and would go along with the planned Citizen Code Academy already in the works.
The long anticipated conversion of the Pottstown Walmart into a SUPER Wallyworld will finally begin this spring if the borough will cooperate with Walmart’s internal needs.
Committee Reports –
Nothing much to report except PDIDA Manager Leighton Wildrick addressed council and gave a brief report about the Hometown Holiday events. They are a great success! He thanked the many people who have helped make this possible and stated the word is getting out about how Pottstown is changing and how these large events and a big reason for the buzz. President Toroney thanked Mr. Wildrick a job well done.
New Business –
Motion to approve the $39,246,650.00 2011 Budget passed. 5 Yes, 1 Abstention (Gibson) and 1 No (Rhoads). Councilor Gibson abstained because he is a paid driver for the Fire Department. Since the Fire Fund was one of the reasons for the tax increase, Mr. Gibson felt this was a conflict of interest. (We feel Councilor Gibson did the right thing).
Motion to adopt an Ordinance to fix the borough tax rate for real property for the Year 2011 for several funds including fire and parks and recreation – 5 Yes, 1 Abstention (Gibson) and 1 No (Rhoads)
Janice Lee was appointed to act as Liaison Officer with Berkheimer, Inc. as Berkheimer, Inc. will now be the tax collection agent for the Borough of Pottstown.
The motion to approve PennDOT’s request for a revised detour plan for the High Street Bridge closure using College Drive passed.
Council passed a motion to authorize a letter of intent to the Towns and Tours Grant Program to enhance the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and the marketability of the downtown.
Council passed a motion authorizing Jason to send a letter of support to WGI Holdings, LLC to submit a grant application to the Montgomery County Economic Development Program on behalf of Dave Walsh and his desire to purchase the First Fidelity Building at the corner or High and Hanover Streets. All Councilors were signing the letter of support.
After much debate Council passed a motion to adopt an official name for the new Transit Center at One Security Plaza. Councilor Kirkland tried to get a motion on the table to delay this vote, however it was defeated. The original motion passed 4 – 3 with Rhoads, Gibson and Kirkland voting No. The majority of council felt there has been enough notice and time given for public comments about the naming of the Transit Center and further delays in passing this motion were unwarranted.
Council approved a motion to authorize borough staff to open negotiations with PCTV. Councilors Weand and Chomnuk volunteered to be council’s representatives on the committee. (Good luck gentlemen!)
Council added and passed Motion 28 to work with Walmart so that the expansion of the Pottstown store meets Walmart’s internal scheduling and budgeting. This means a great deal of money for Pottstown in terms of taxes and fees. It is in our best interest to work with Walmart in this instance.
Report of Bills – Councilor Weand said they have been paid!
Announcements – There was some unpleasantness between a spectator and Councilor Gibson that was ended by President Toroney banging his gavel and telling them to “take it outside” before things got out of hand.
Meeting was adjourned.