Taxes remain flat in Susquehanna Depot
BY STACI WILSON
Susquehanna borough taxes will remain flat in 2014 with no increases or decreases in the 23.10 millage rate and 1.1 mills in debt service.
Borough council adopted annual tax ordinance as well as its $423,799 budget for 2014 at its Wednesday, Dec. 18 meeting.
Council President Roberta Reddon said the budget provided for planned improvements in the borough and members of council are “committed to reinventing the future of Susquehanna.”
Members, as well as incoming elected officials, were reminded to submit an affidavit of residency and financial interest statements by the Jan. 6 reorganization meeting.
Mayor-elect Nancy Hurley plans to be sworn into office Jan. 3 by Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth Seamans. She will then administer the oath of office to the re-elected and newly elected members of council.
Council recognized the winners of the Christmas decoration contest. Residential winners were Rick and Carol Tingley, Brian and Becky Lewis and Kathleen Fox. Business winners were French’s Auto, TJ’s Auto and NEPA Community Health Care.
Councilwoman Debra Zayas said that a small rivalry may have formed in the business category – with French’s Auto taking first place over runner-up TJ’s Auto.
“It’s getting the community involved and excited about something good in the town,” Zayas said.
Borough solicitor Michael Briechle attended to answer questions on labor law; vacancies on council; Open Meeting law; executive sessions; codes enforcement and possible ordinances that the borough could use to enforce code violations.
At least one council member is expected to resign from the post, and council asked the solicitor’s guidance on the best way to fill the position.
The solicitor said council could immediately appoint someone to fill the position following a resignation, but noted the post had to be filled within 30 days or be turned over to the borough’s vacancy board. If the position is not filled by the vacancy board, it would then be turned over to the county court and the judge would appoint.
A vacancy also exists on the Tri Boro Municipal Authority Board. Council need only appoint by resolution someone to fill that vacancy.
Reddon said she thought is would be appropriate to wait until the reorganization meeting to make an appointment to let the incoming council have its say.
Briechle also told council there were only a limited number of issues that could be discussed by council in executive session – mostly pertaining to personnel and legal issues.
He noted that the executive sessions were required to be announced and identified as having occurred. The reason for the executive session must also be identified.
In regards to blighted properties, the solicitor offered up a number of provisions in municipal code that borough could use to bring properties into compliance or provide for the demolition of buildings that can not be rehabilitated.
Some of the suggestions would require the council to adopt ordinances which could carry punitive mechanisms for owners that are found to not be in compliance with the laws.
In addition to that information, council held an executive session with the solicitor to discuss a matter currently in litigation.
Following the executive session, council reconvened and accepted the resignation of Councilwoman Pat Frederick, with regret. Frederick plans to relocate and therefore will not be able to serve on council.