Borough waiting on ‘rules’

BY STACI WILSON

Montrose borough’s “rules of public conduct” remain intact, despite a February court order that knocked down council’s attempt to regulate audio and video taping before and after meetings.
Councilwoman Julanne Skinner asked, at the March 4 meeting, if council planned to address the order issued by President Judge Kenneth Seamans that declared “Rule #12” as unconstitutional.
At first, Council President Tom LaMont said the issue could be handled by council at the Monday meeting.
But Secretary Erin Jenner said the borough had not received anything about the case to date; and Councilman Craig Reimel added, “We haven’t been notified by the court.”
Skinner said she thought it should have been up to the borough’s attorney for the matter, Patrick Boland, to notify the borough of the court decision.
“I think the court has an obligation to send (the order) to us,” said Councilman Sean Granahan.
Reimel agreed, “The court is obligated to send it to us if they want us to do anything.”
With that, council opted to not address the rules as an action item on Monday night’s agenda.
With few people in attendance at borough meetings, and no member of the media or public attempting to make audio or video recordings of the meeting, enforcement of the recording rule has not come up as an issue in recent months.
The borough is returning just over $191,000 in Earned Income Tax revenue to Berkheimer Associates.
Reimel told council that it was recently discovered that several oil and gas companies with offices in Bridgewater Twp. had used a payer code that linked the tax revenue to Montrose. “It’s a substantial amount of money,” Reimel said.
Two options to remedy the situation were presented for council’s consideration.
Berkheimer could withhold Montrose’s EIT revenue until the balance owed is paid; or the borough could write a check for the amount back to Berkheimer so the tax collection agency can remit the taxes to the Bridgewater Twp. coffers.
Council opted to write a check to Berkheimer in order to have the tax monies sent as quickly as possible to the neighboring township.
The error came to light after one of the companies, Rockford, paid a backlog of earned income tax. Reimel explained the company had paid the earned income tax to the now defunct Central Tax for about four months in 2012.
When the county’s tax collection was taken out of the failing company’s hands, Rockford’s payroll managers, which is headquartered in California according to Reimel, did not know where to send the tax, resulting in the bulk payment.
Secretary Jenner saw the payment seemed out of place and asked Berkheimer to look into the matter.
Council also voted to advertise the flood plain ordinance. The ordinance must be adopted by April 2.
A fee schedule for permits fees, as well as planning commission and zoning hearing board appeals was also adopted.