Catasauqua Press

Friday, March 22, 2019

Catty introduces new borough manager

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Council adopts ticketing ordinance; opponents question appeal option

At its regular meeting April 2, Catasauqua Borough Council announced that Stephen Travers was selected as the new borough manager. The motion to offer the position to Travers passed by a vote of 4 to 3 with Councilmen Brian Bartholomew and Eugene Schlegel and Councilwoman Jessica Kroope opposed.

Schlegel explained his vote after the meeting.

“We are not opposed to him; we had more questions to ask,” he said. “There was no rush that this appointment had to be today.”

Council also made a decision on 748 Front St. The property has a significant tax bill, and the homeowner declared bankruptcy. A potential buyer asked if the borough would grant tax relief, but the borough rejected the offer.

Borough resident Debbie Smale asked council about her ongoing situation with a Hartzell’s Plumbing truck that is parked outside her home on Howertown Road. The truck has been at the same location for months. The truck owner extended the parking time using a vacation deferral clause in the parking ordinance. The deferral does not require him to move the truck if he is on vacation. He invoked the rule twice, and Police Chief Douglas Kish indicated at the last meeting that there would be no more vacation deferrals. Smale had the process confirmed at the meeting.

Smale also voiced her annoyance over the way UGI is handling repairs. She was dismayed that a resident had his car towed based on a misunderstanding about the posted date. She asked that council require UGI to post a start date for a repair project.

Councilwoman Christine Weaver pushed to get her ticketing ordinance passed. The new ordinance allows the borough to issue tickets for minor offenses like abandoned vehicles, overgrown yards or snow removal issues. The fine would be $25 for the first offense and would escalate for repeat offenders. Weaver clarified there is an appeal process.

“Appeals would be heard before the code hearing board,” she said.

Kroope countered there is a fee of $500 to go before the code hearing board. Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker indicated a separate fee could be set when the ordinance is passed. Kroope suggested the process needs further review.

Council voted 4 to 3 to adopt the ticketing ordinance. Kroope, Schlegel and Bartholomew voted against the measure. No adjusted fee was discussed for appeals.

Kroope questioned a decision by the borough manager to hire a facilities manager. She indicated the duties and responsibilities of the facilities manager were not identified.

“The HVAC system is complicated, and we need someone to look after the system,” said now-retired manager Eugene Goldfeder.

Kroope argued that the decision was made without consulting council and without a review of alternatives.

“We looked at the HVAC vendor, and they wanted $5,500 a year. The facilities manager would cost less,” Goldfeder said.

“The borough is spending a lot of money with very little oversight on questionable items,” Kroope said after the meeting.

Council is having a discussion on naming the street behind the new municipal building after local A-Treat Hero Scott Rothrock. At least four council members are opposed to the suggestion. Mayor Barbara Schlegel asked that a dedication street sign be added below the official street name.

“This is done successfully in Whitehall and gives recognition to someone who went above and beyond their duty,” she said.

Council President Vincent Smith referred the suggestion out to committee.

American Legion Post 215 wants to reserve spots for motorcycles on bike night, which is set for April 20. Council agreed to post the streets.