Great Bend still targeting police department

BY PAT FARNELLI

Great Bend Borough council members tried to make a little headway in their plans to set up a borough police department and to help restore fair financial responsibility for the Hallstead Great Bend Sewer Authority during their Thursday meeting.

Several council members expressed frustration at the difficulties involved in moving forward on several projects.

Borough solicitor Francis O’Connor attended the meeting, but has not completed reviewing an approximately 300-page standard operating procedure manual that the borough would like to adapt.

The manual was originally developed and approved for Lanesboro, and was used by that community in setting up a municipal police force.

The only paper copy of the manual was on the table Thursday night, and after O’Connor left the meeting for another appointment, council members discussed deviding the chapters among themselves for review, and submitting changes at a work session.

The Lanesboro sample manual has already been reviewed by the borough’s insurance provider, who suggested the insertion of a sexual harassment policy, which has been added. It has also been reviewed by Lanesboro’s solicitor and Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg, and another attorney in Susquehanna.

Councilman Jerry MacConnell asked the solicitor, “Can you review this by the 18th? Can you come prepared next time?”

O’Connor responded, “I will bring the file if I’m in town.”

The solicitor noted that he has a very busy practice, and has jury trials coming up.

MacConnell said that council has made little progress on setting up its municipal police department since the month of July. The borough has purchased a police car, which will be delivered within the next week. However, the police force cannot be set up without an ORI or OAI number, an originating agency identification number necessary to inaugurate a law enforcement agency.

Councilman Bret Jennings said New Milford Municipal Authority owes the Hallstead/Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority more than $75,000 in delinquent sewer use fees, according to his figures.

Jennings said, “They do not want to pay their fair share of joint usage.”

The borough has made some progress in its efforts to replace the municipal building roof.  A sales representative from Erie Materials gave specifications and samples for presentation at the meeting, with a total cost for materials estimated between $4,000 and $5,000.

 A shingle  roof was recommended, rather than the tin roof the borough had originally been considering.  The council voted to buy the materials directly from the supply house, and to put the installation  up for bid.

Code enforcement reported that progress has been made on the Knifer property, and that the front yard has been cleaned up. MacConnell asked for a copy of the ordinance to see how it would apply to the back yard on that property.

A defunct police organization, formerly comprised of Great Bend Borough, Great Bend Township, Hallstead Borough, New Milford, and Oakland Township, still has an account with a shortage of around $49,000, and although all of the other municipalities backed out of the organization at some point, Great Bend Borough is being billed for the entire shortage.

“I don’t believe Great Bend Borough should he solely responsible for this bill,” said council president Rick Franks. “It should be prorated for the municipalities by when they got out of the organization.”

Solicitor O’Connor sent a letter regarding the disproportionate use of water and sewer by fast food restaurants and service stations in “the flats” to the Hallstead/Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority, and received a reply. The gas station and restaurants’ water use is being looked into, he said.

“I’m just tired of being the smallest municipality that has to take the biggest bite,” said Franks.

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