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Media Borough Council Votes: No new taxes, disapprove of LWW rate hikes – December 16th, 2010

Dec 16

Media Borough Council Votes: No new taxes, disapprove of LWW rate hikes – December 16th, 2010

Media Borough Council met for their final meeting on December 16th for a public hearing at 7:19 PM regarding the 2011 budget, followed by the regularly scheduled legislative session at 7:46 PM.

The highlights of both meetings are:

  • No new taxes, Media passed a balanced budget of $8,004,625 for 2011
  • Media Farmer’s Market has been granted a Mass Gathering Permit for 2011
  • New snow ordinances create more snow emergency routes, and prevent contractors from dumping snow in parking lots onto Media Borough streets
  • Contentious discussion regarding the Little Washington Waste Water rate hike for 2011
  • Two motions (with vigorous discussion) by Jim Cunningham were tabled:
    • Changing responsibilities between Zoning Hearing Board and Planning Commission, and
    • Putting a stop sign at 3rd and Lemon (despite Public Safety recommendations and previous votes against)

Split votes

LWW Plans on raising rates by 100% in 2011

Two votes which were not on the agenda produced much debate. Jim Cunningham proposed sending a letter to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) stating that Media Borough Council disapproved of the 100% rate increase for 2011. Peter Williamson indicated that a letter did not make the borough a party to any sort of legal recourse, and would simply be a letter which expresses an opinion.

Jim Cunningham indicated that he did not wish to embroil the borough in any sort of legal action, but simply to express dissatisfaction.

Peter Williamson disagreed indicating that we could enter as a member of the party and have legal recourse, but it would not require us to do so. Later it was divulged that the legal cost to send a letter from the lawyer and enter as a party would be less than $1,000.

The early vote was for the “letter” which carries no legal weight and provides no recourse whatsoever. According to borough solicitor Robert Scott, the PUC can ignore it, or they may take it into consideration.

The vote passed by a 4-3 margin, with Dawn Roe, Monica Simpson, and Peter Williamson against.

Later in the meeting, Peter Williamson made a motion to make Media Borough as a party to the hearing by the PUC by LWW rate increase. It was clarified that all this would do is reserve the borough’s right to fight the increase legally, instead of making a public statement which carried no legal weight.

This motion was voted on and passed 5-2, with Jim Cunningham and Peter Alyanakian against.

Votes with only Jim Cunningham against

Jim Cunningham seems to vote against many items on a matter of principle. For example, on the record he is against any expenditure for CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation Air Quality for Traffic Signal Enhancements) or the 3rd Street Bridge. Every month he asks Jeffrey Deitch, Borough Treasurer, whether  bills were paid for these two projects, and then votes no on the “paying the bills” vote.

For the following votes, Jim Cunningham was the only dissenting vote:

  • To pay the bills for November
  • Adoption of the budget for 2011
  • Changing of the retirement age from 65 to 62 for non-union peronnel which would apply to 2 borough employees who have worked for the Borough for 35 years
  • Switch to insurance Delaware Valley Health Insurance Trust (DVHIT)

Unanimously Approved Votes by Borough Council members

From Robert Mankoff of the New Yorker

From Robert Mankoff of the New Yorker

The following votes were unanimously approved by all Borough Council members.

  • Approval of the minutes from previous meetings
  • Snow removal ordinance (no pushing snow into borough streets) and adding a few snow emergency routes
  • Approval of 2011 Tax Rate of 3.0 mills
  • Approval of pensions and Minimum Municipal Obligation for 2011
  • Application for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the Comprehensive Plan and Emergency Generator for the borough buildings
  • Mass Gathering Application for the Media Farmers Market
  • Sale of equipment at 1 West State Street for $5,100.00
  • Approval of collective bargaining agreements with Public Works Employees and Public Information Officers
  • Hiring a consultant from the PA Dept of Commerce and Econonmic Development (DCED) LOI for Police Management Study
  • Resignation of Jon Nelson from the Recreation Board
  • Appointment Lisa Johnson to the Recreation Board
  • Approval of the building of a footbridge at Houtman Park
  • Accepting the resignation of two code enforcement officers
  • Traffic Ordinance 1079 which changes parking times and handicapped spots in various places in Media
  • Resolution #2010-11: Support Pittsburgh to ban corporate gas drilling

Issues “tabled” until later

The following votes were unanimously approved by all borough council members to “postpone” an issue until later:

  • Table the issue of determining responsibilities of Zoning Hearing board and Planning Commission regarding residental zoning exceptions
  • Table the installation of a stop sign at 3rd and Lemon Streets