Borough K-9 receives donation
Catasauqua Council presented the K-9 unit of the borough police department with the proceeds from a flea market fundraiser that Mayor Barbara Schlegel organized. The presentation was made at the council's Nov. 9 meeting.
"We hold these events periodically to help support the K-9 unit," Schlegel said. The event netted $750 that will be used to take care of Jack, the borough's police dog.
Rick and Alna Smart had assisted the mayor in getting the fundraiser organized and played a key role in its success.
Also at the meeting, the council did make a decision on tapping fees for two ongoing property renovations in the borough. A few months ago, the owners of 208 Front St. and 417 Front St. appealed a ruling by the borough manager that assessed tapping fees for renovations they had made to their properties.
Tapping fees are a tax to cover the cost of the physical plant needed for sewer and water. Borough Manager Eugene Goldfeder explained his logic when the owners submitted their appeals. Tapping fees also contribute to the capital costs to expand and improve the physical plant.
The property owners argued the existing plant is underutilized and there is little need to expand the plant with the community essentially already built out.
The borough countered that capital improvements are still required to meet new updated standards.
Tapping fees were first levied in the mid-1950s when the sewer plant was constructed. According to Goldfeder, the fees were a fixed rate based on usage at the time.
"As additional property in the borough is developed, the tapping fee is applied," he said.
Councilwoman Bev Mellish's committee delved into the details and presented their recommendation to council.
For 417 Front St., the original tapping fee was based on 20 boarding rooms. The new owner wants to have four one-bedroom apartments.
"Based on the usage, the new use is less than the original use," said Goldfeder. No tapping fee was assessed. When questioned about how the calculations were made, Goldfeder admitted the borough used present day allocations.
"In the 50s there was no measurement standard like we have today, so we can't say what the actual usage may have been back then," he said. The point made was that 20 boarding rooms would use more water and sewerage than four apartments.
For 208 Front St., the same logic was applied, but with different results. The owners added a rental unit to a building on the property.
"We could not find any instance where there was an additional rental unit on the property," Mellish said. Based on the research, a tapping fee was assessed for the additional unit.
Although the tapping fee research was complete and logical, the added cost on future development is a significant expense for developers. The research into the background data took nearly four months. Most developers are reluctant to commit to a project if there is such a long delay in determining an expense.
In other business, after some complaints and a review of legal options, the borough will post handicapped parking areas with a sign warning those without the required decals that illegally parked cars can be towed and the fine can range from $50 to $200. The action was taken because a resident protested that her car was towed from a handicapped spot. The spot was not signed for towing.
Police Chief Douglas Kish recommended to the council that all handicapped spaces be marked with the secondary sign.
In a related measure, council agreed to increase the cost to have a vehicle towed.
Owners pay the towing charge when they retrieve cars from the impound lot.