Parkesburg 2014 Draft Budget

The 2014 proposed budget is available for review.   If approved, the budget will be adopted at the December 16th Council Meeting.

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60 responses to “Parkesburg 2014 Draft Budget

  1. I didn’t see a number for the West Street Bridge project, and I did email Lester Thomas asking about the project and he said the borough is waiting on Amtrak. Not sure where the money went, but if found please return to Parkesburg borough office to be put back with the budget…

  2. This is what Lester Thomas said in his email regarding the bridge project

    “At the present time the National Railroad Passenger Corporation needs to sign and return to Parkesburg Borough the Final Design and Construction Phase Agreement. This will allow our Engineers to move forward with the Final Design stage. We are and have been the top position on the Transportation Improvement Plan, but Federal and State funding for transportation projects has not been available. Once all contracts are in place and our project can move forward, the removal and replacement of a new bridge will require three (3) construction seasons.”

    The borough uses the bridge project as an excuse to raise taxes each year, and it is getting old in my opinion. I contacted the Amtrak people today asking details and they are going to email me with the answers soon.

  3. I know very little of the Bridge Project. The information that I can find only tells a portion of the story. From the Daily Local News article (“25% tax hike plan riles Parkesburg”, POSTED: 02/23/12) it states that the cost of the project would cost $3.2 million. The federal stimulus program was to pay 80% ($2.56 million) of it and the state would pay an additional 15% ($480,000). That’s a total of $3.04 million which leaves the borough responsible for the remaining balance of $160,000. So, if the borough has collected “a little over $134,000.00” according to Debbie Helms. So, when the borough completes their responsibility to the remainder, will the tax be removed? What all has been done to the bridge so far? The article stated that construction was supposed to begin in 2013 and last 3 years.

    The thing I’m confused about is the federal monies. When you look at the very “transparent” website recovery.gov that our transparent president set up so that we can monitor stimulus money, there was a grant awarded in 2009 to the Parkesburg Borough for $707,000. Far less than the $2.56 million that they’re supposed to pay. The other confusing thing is that they mark the status of the project as “Completed”. There are a couple of other grants awarded in the area but they are to J. D. Eckman and even if you include those amounts, they still don’t equal $2.56 million.

    Like I said, I know little of the project and I’m just trying to understand what it is, how it’s being paid, and how far have they gone with the work that was supposed to start this year? Was all of the stimulus money paid to the borough or was it paid to the company that bid to do the work? There’s a blog post on PburgToday that includes PennDOT as one of the cast of characters. Did PennDOT receive money for the project?

    Just wondering.

  4. The $707,000 you mentioned went towards the “State Street” bridge project that Mel Keen pushed for years ago which was awarded to J.D. Eckman. It was a separate project from the “West Bridge Street” project. The owner of the lumber yard gained property from that deal, and it is should be investigated by the State for possibly being an ethics violation under conflict of interest.

    • The land that you speak of being gained from the Lumber yard property owner, from the completion of the last phase of the ‘State Street Project’, was and always had been under the ownership of the ‘Lumber Yard property’. If you would attempt to understand the idea of ‘easements for right of access’, that applies to roads, streets, and general right of access to properties, then you would understand the fact that once the need for that access is no longer needed, the land reverts back to the landowner to use.
      If and when the borough needs that land space back for a road/bridge to be put in place, they have the right to utilize this right of access once again.

      Since you own a property in the borough, you too could check your actual title for your plot lines to see that it talks about the property lines are to the middle of the street (Maple), but as you should know or have observed when you visit that property, the public has the right to drive on the road.

      • The owner of Tradewinds LLC which is not a registered business in Pa nor has it been since it was established over 15 years ago lives at 619 First Ave. The owner of that residence is Mel Keen if I’m not mistaken and she can “not” vote on any project resulting in a gain of property at all. She did not abstain from the vote. If you are the owner of Tradewinds LLC and you live at 619 First Ave it is still a conflict of interest and she could not vote on it but she did. There are not easements as you described and if so why didn’t Tradewinds LLC gain property at the other end of the lumber yard as well to close off the area where people cross the tracks where they are at risk of getting hit by a train?

        • Ethics act: Restricted activities

          (a) No public official or public employee shall engage in conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is defined as use by a public official or public employee of the authority of his office or employment or any confidential information received through his holding public office or employment for the private pecuniary benefit of himself, a member of his immediate family, or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated. “Conflict” or “conflict of interest” does not include an action having a de minimis economic impact or which affects to the same degree a class consisting of the general public or a subclass consisting of an industry, occupation, or other group which includes the public official or public employee, a member of his immediate family, or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated.

          • Pennsylvania
            Offers, confers or agrees to confer upon another, or solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from another any pecuniary benefit as consideration for the decision, opinion, recommendation, vote or other exercise of discretion as a public servant, party official or voter by the recipient; any benefit as consideration for the decision, vote, recommendation or other exercise of official discretion by the recipient in a judicial, administrative or legislative proceeding; or any benefit as consideration for a violation of a known legal duty as public servant or party official (Bribery in official and political matters)
            CC 18 §4701

            Felony of the third degree
            Max. imprisonment 7 years; max. fine $2,500-$15,000

            Engaging in conduct that constitutes a conflict of interest
            Accepting or seeking improper influence
            EC 65 §1103(a)
            EC 65 §1103(b)
            Felony
            Max. imprisonment 5 years; max. fine $10,000

            Willfully affirming or swearing falsely in regard to any material matter before an ethics commission proceeding
            EC 65 §1109(e)
            Felony
            Max. imprisonment 5 years; max. fine $5,000

            A person acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, knowing that his conduct is illegal, subjects another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, assessment, lien or other infringement of personal or property rights; or denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity (Official oppression)
            Speculating or wagering on official action or information
            CC 18 §5301
            CC 18 §5302
            Misdemeanor of the second degree
            Max. imprisonment 2 years; max. fine $500-$5,000

            Accepting an honorarium
            Soliciting or accepting a severance payment or anything of monetary value contingent upon the assumption or acceptance of public office or employment
            Improperly contracting with the state
            Improperly representing another before a state agency
            Vote on a matter in which there is a conflict of interest
            Improperly files or does not file a statement of economic interest
            EC 65 §1103(d)
            EC 65 §1103(e)
            EC 65 §1103(f)
            EC 65 §1103(g)
            EC 65 §1103(j)
            EC 65 §1104

            Misdemeanor
            Max. imprisonment 1 year; max. fine $1,000 (Anyone who gains financially from a violation must pay three times the gain)

  5. I just got an email from Amtrak regarding the bridge project.

    I asked when the project would be started, and they replied with this answer:

    “Good morning, after some investigation, I was told to tell you to contact the Borough of Parkesburg or the Borough attorney for an update on the project.

    Have a nice weekend.”

    Another simple question with a circular answer!

  6. Back to my discussion about the police department…The police lost a few outside contracts that were bringing in money to the borough (not much) but after some research I found that losing contracts results in too many cops and not enough to do. The town is not riddled with heavy crime as Knickerbocker claims on his ranting blog, and the chief doesn’t need a large police force like the one he has costing the tax payers for poor service. It seams that Knickerbocker has a inside connection with the police department, and that is very sneaky and unprofessional in my opinion. Who elected Ken as our town reporter? Oh wait the good ole boy system did to cover their tracks.

    I think we should get rid of the entire force and use the state police to help the budget. The police department is now costing us money instead of making money, but lets not forget about insurance, and pension funds. We are still paying Lester Thomas a pension which I find strange because he was fired from his position and asked to leave the police force because he was working full time at Lukens steal and acting as a full time chief of police. An ordinance was passed and he was gone, but he is still collecting from the borough. I would love to own a nice brand new corvette and have a brand new house built but not at the expense of the tax payers.

    I think it is time to send out a petition to remove the chief and the police department before the budget gets polluted any further. I also want to say to David that my actions are a result of constant insults from the borough, and poor attitudes from the police force. They asked for it so I’m giving it back. Insiders have told me about the rudeness of almost every council member, and the administration staff.

    I also think Lester needs to sit with the “administration” people at the meetings instead of the borough council. These problems will be addressed at the next meeting I’m sure. The police should not be here to collect revenue, they are hear to “serve and protect” and according to the chief that is not their policy as he told a business owner in town with a respectable reputation. That alone is grounds for dismissal in my opinion.

    The town needs to wake up before it is too late!

  7. The reason the bridge street fund does not show up in the 2014 budget is there are no plans to move any money other than the $20k Dave points out. The escrow account should appear on the P&L or balance sheet. I agree with Dave all looks well. I would however like council take advantage of the county grant money that I made them aware of in August. They show a capital expendure of $35k for public works. If we applied for grant we would be eligible for $200k of FREE MONEY. Not sure why they don’t take advantage of these programs. We could get street lights, security cameras or even new maintenance vehicles with money. Remember grant = FREE!

    • Mr. McCabe, You do realize that grants are not FREE money, right? It’s tax payers money. Is Welfare FREE money? Food stamps? Instead of applying for more “FREE” money, maybe being a little more fiscally responsible is the key.

      • We don’t need free money…just reduce the police department and save the money that is already there. We can fire the part time officers and lay off some of the full time officers to save on salaries, medical and dental benefits, insurance, fuel,…etc

        The police budget will only get worse if they get a new contract this year, and if you think they have a lot of toys now just wait and see what else they plan on getting. Check out the new police drones that can look into your windows of your home without a warrant thanks to national security, and how about some swat vehicles that are up for grabs in case we have martial law… I’m almost certain the Chief needs those things for our town to reduce all the high level crime. The best part is that you the tax payers will be paying for it all and you won’t be able to ask questions about any of it.

        The state police can give you the same service with professional behavior folks! This is all just my opinion, but all it takes is a dollar collapse and your rights are suspended under the rule of a police state. Think about how well you will be treated in that situation considering how things are run in town at the moment.

  8. Jim, Thanks for the review of the Budget and the advice about the Grant monies. If Truly FREE then this seems hard to pass up. Worth the effort of paperwork.

  9. I guess now we should look and see if the police are bringing in enough money to cover all their expenses.

  10. It is correct to say that grant money is not free in the sense that it does come from taxes at some point. It is however, also correct to say that the money will most definitely be spent (in Chester County in this case) and that in the absence of taking advantage of these opportunities, local taxpayers not only pay for their portion of the grant going somewhere else, but then they also have to pay for the work when needed that the grant would have covered. In other words if you don’t get a grant you pay twice. You pay for the grant and then the work too. Which is a better deal?

  11. How much can we save if we reduce the police force by laying off the part timers and maybe a few full timers to reduce expenses that are unnecessary and a waste of money to the tax payer? The crime rate is very low, and we don’t need 4 cop cars to show up at a fender bender in front of Turkeyhill. We should also ask the Chief to pay for his own fuel since he is taking his car home every night to Narvon Pa. near Honeybrook. It seems logical to reduce the taxes and get the Millage down if we want to get more people to move into town. This is all just my opinion by the way.

    Lester Thomas hasn’t really done anything in 10 years to help the town in my opinion, and it seems like we are losing the traditions we once had because of the tough budget we face created by, and maintained by the borough council. I think we need a new borough manager, or at the very least someone with a college education in engineering because Lester sure does take a long time to get projects underway. By the time he gets the bridge started he may be ready to retire again to collect another pension from the borough tax dollars. I believe that will be 3 pensions… Not bad for a high school diploma, and no college degree in my opinion!

    • Joey, if you want an answer to the budget questions you can figure it out by getting a copy of the “detailed” budget that includes all of the salaries and benefits. Get someone you trust who has experience with municipal budgets to work out the details. Don’t forget that you also have to deduct income lost from contracts, fines, etc. that will no longer come in once you have cut to a borough only force. If you are saying the crime rate is low in Parkesburg, could you please tell us what the current crime rate is and how that relates to previous years and other municipalities? It helps all of us understand better if you are more specific. Could you also be a “little” more specific about what traditions are no longer in happening due to budget constraints. As far as the borough manager is concerned, we already have contracted engineering services. I’m not aware of a single municipality like Parkesburg that employs an engineer as borough manager. I have no idea why you think that’s a good idea. Engineers make a lot more money than a borough manager and we get that service on a pay as needed basis. The reason(s) for delays in projects ( I assume you are talking about either the Bridge or the Train Station) has very little to do with the borough manager. These projects are controlled by the state and the feds. The bridge moved to the top of the transportation funding list twice, only to be bumped by projects on Route 202, which were deemed a higher priority. The borough manager, mayor and members of council can lobby (as they have done continuously), but when state representatives and federal legislators get behind a bigger project, Parkesburg moves down the priority list. The fact that the bridge has been closed for so long also plays into priority decisions. Just to be clear, Mr. Thomas has not been manager for 10 years. He started that job in 2006 as I recall. That means that the bridge project has been languishing for 12 years prior to Mr. Thomas’ appointment as manager. Your thoughts and ideas are relevant and important to consider Joey, but it’s one thing to criticize and it’s another to offer real solutions that are based in facts. Do yourself a favor and do some homework. Learn the complexities of the budget and make constructive suggestions that move the borough forward. By doing so you will gain credibility over time. Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2013 01:14:16 +0000 To: davidjones384@msn.com

  12. Dave can you apply for a smaller grant to use in Parkesburg and we are on the hook for a portion of that but it would be a smaller portion. Am I looking at what you said correctly? If we apply for money as a grant why can it be used somewhere else in Chester County but we still have to pay the taxes?? I’m confused by what you are saying there.

    • What I’m saying Deb is Chester County has a set amount of money for grants. Let’s say Chester County has $3,000,000 to allocate in 2014 grants. That money is tax payer funded, so we fund the $3,000,000 grant money. If it goes to Phoenixville, Oxford and Coatesville, the taxpayers of Parkesburg still are “helping” to fund it. If you remember a few years ago when Obama and the Congress put up all the money for railroad enhancements. The state of Florida refused to take the stimulus money from Obama. That doesn’t mean the tax payers in Florida aren’t paying for that stimulus because they are paying the same as everyone else. The money was reallocated to the states in the Northeast, including Pennsylvania and the portion of the stimulus that each taxpayer has to pay still includes people living in Florida. So, they gave up billions of dollars but it didn’t lower their taxes and they are still paying for that money, they just don’t get any of the benefit. It’s like on a personal level if you borrowed $100,000 and decided to give it to all of your relatives in $10,000 alotments each. You still have to pay for the loan. So, we all still have to pay for the money Chester County is using, we just don’t get any of the benefit of the funds. If a grant is set at $100,000 you can apply for a smaller amount. Typically, the granter will reapportion the total they have if you only take say, $80,000. That means an additional $20,000 will be spread among the other grants usually, or they can also choose to roll it over sometimes, not always. Typically, areas like Parkesburg are given more consideration for grants because of our economically depressed status. You do however, have to show the ability to pay the grant’s matching amount, if that applies. And, perhaps the most important thing is the grant application. Lots of municipalities have people on board that are specialists in writing grants. The quality of the application is arguably the most important aspect. When people talk about the enhancements Atglen has been able to do to their Main Street, that’s been due to grants. Very few municipalities have the financial ability to self-fund major infrastructure. Hope this helps clarify what I was saving Deb. Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2013 01:47:02 +0000 To: davidjones384@msn.com

      • Thanks Dave, Kim and i were talking about this last night. He said something about $35K on the budget that could go against our portion of a grant. I’m new to this stuff so i have alot to learn. And I’ll get a copy of the P&L if the open records person will lat me have it without a fight. I also wondered why they were having the reassignment meeting on Jan. 6th instead of the council meeting like they did last year?
        Thank you

        • There’s a requirement for time frame for organizational meetings that is probably the reason. They only do them every 2 years. If they want to reopen the budget they also have a time limit. Interestingly, I saw today that Oxford is going up to 12 mills and last week I saw Coatesville is increasing their taxes 37%.

          • Thanks Dave, I did see the increase in Oxford but not Coatesville yet. It’s tough times for everybody it seems. I hope to make the Jan., 6th meeting with so much busy stuff going on for the holidays.

  13. I love people who leave snarky comments and hide behind their avatar. You are correct they are not FREE! Since tax money backs the grant. I was trying to come up with creative ideas to improve life in the burg. I will make sure my ideas are accurate so you will not have anything to snipe about, Right, Right, Right …
    Own your comments and stop hiding behind your avatar.
    PS. I am a fiscal conservative.

    • Jim I don’t think money for the burg is an issue right now. In my opinion you need a motivated borough manager and a borough council that actually cares about the life of the town. Lester hasn’t done anything for the town in 10 years, and why would he if he is getting paid $70,000 a year to do nothing. The borough council hasn’t been able to balance the budget since David left the council years ago. We have need to disband the entire council and Parkesburg government and get newly elected people in office with an education in management and economics. The people we have now are just a bunch of high school grads with an attitude.

      Everyone knows I am not a fan of David Jones for personal reasons, but at this point he would be a better borough manager than Lester Thomas and I would vote for him if it were possible. Kathy Rick has no clue how to do anything at the borough level except to whack her little hammer on the desk at the meetings. She is a liar like the rest of the bunch, and only out for herself and her police buddies in my opinion. We need a major overhaul of Government before it really gets out of hand.

      • Calling council “a bunch of high school graduates” while accurate, comes across as less than complimentary to those who have graduated from high school, I my opinion. Graduating from high school is a celebrated achievement and suggests a level of literacy, competency and problem solving ability. Some graduates continue their education and training. Far more make a success of their lives without formal post secondary education. The fact is the education level of council is far higher than high school. Several have multiple degrees.

        • Perhaps the borough Government should have brushed up on the Fourteen Principles of Ethical Conduct for Federal Employees!

          Oh by the way I sent an email to the borough about cleaning up the lumber yard because it is in violation of section 307 (rubbish and garbage), and also section 302.8 (motor vehicles). The borough is a residential district and you can not have a junkyard in a residential district according to Mark Harman the code enforcement officer of the borough.

          The owner of the lumber yard is under a unregistered business entity called Tradewinds LLC and the owner of that company lives at your address.

        • Oh Mel who cares! My daughter has her Masters from Bryn Mawr. Big deal. Council “acts” like school kids sometimes and you know it. So did I when i was attacked by Chuckie. Somebody better control their own people up there. The mayor leading Moran out for yelling at a citizen?? What does that look like?? The cops need to grow up too! If you guys want respect then you better start giving it and stop acting like Parkesburg belongs to council and not taxpayers. It does not belong to you. Or council per se.

          • Taxation without representation is how I would describe Parkesburg’s uneducated Government officials in my opinion. I haven’t met one member who has an ounce of integrity, or the ability to balance such a tiny budget. I see a bunch of slumlords, and power hungry, childish fools who think they can do whatever they want with our tax dollars without question. They even passed an ordinance which refuses to answer questions at meetings, but you have 3 minutes to complain. The town is waking up and the council needs to understand they work for us, and not for their own personal gain. In my opinion the council is a group of unethical, childish, arrogant, bullies.

          • Taxation without representation goes back to the Revolutionary War, but is not really appropriate for Parkesburg. When 4 members of council (a simple majority) run for re-election unopposed, I don’t think you can say there’s no representation. There may be plenty of apathy, but that’s not the fault of council. I do think it is terrible to restrict residents from asking questions at borough council meetings. In the long run I don’t think it is fair to attack people on a personal level and this goes for council members attacking residents as well as residents attacking council members. If we all pledge to carry “ourselves” with integrity and decency that is all we can control in the end and it may actually lead to responses focused on the issues and not on individuals. Let us not forget that 2013 saw the opening of no less than 7 new businesses. When is the last time we saw so many new businesses open in one year within the limits of the borough? Mr. Alexander can probably tell us how many NEW homes were built and sold in the borough in 2013 too. If you want to recognize the positive in town, there has been plenty in 2013! No town or city is without problems and even controversy. Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2013 13:04:42 +0000 To: davidjones384@msn.com

    • Referring to grant money as FREE money equates to saying food stamps and welfare are FREE money. It’s not.
      PS. I’m a Sagittarius.

  14. I just read on the other Parkesburg site that the Police collected $17,000 in fines and fees. I’m not a math wiz but municipalites only get 25% of the fine for a ticket, and since most fines like traffic violations are only $25.00. In order for the police department to collect $17,000 in fines in one month, they must of written thousands of tickets. I don’t even think Philadelphia collects that kind of money in one month, but small town Parkesburg can! I think somebody needs to look at these numbers again cause the public is getting miss lead

    • Misleading the public is common practice for the borough and the Chief is worried that the public will find out that we have no crime in town and fire him because of it. Kathy Rick has a family relationship with the Chief of police and she won’t get rid of the department no matter how corrupt or misleading the cops are in my opinion.

      • There are many different forms of fines and tickets and the borough also shares in tickets written in municipalities where they provide coverage. The amount reported for any ONE month may include (and most times does) revenue from previous month(s). It might also interest you to know that a “single” truck stop for safety violations can and often does run hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on the number and seriousness of the safety violations. I’m not sure where you get the figure of “most” fines being $25, but I don’t think that is accurate. The crime report is given by the Chief in public once a month and it is absolutely FALSE and MISLEADING to the public to say “We have no crime in town.” Repeating misinformation over and over doesn’t make it any less false. In 2011 the borough collected more than $112,239, including $29,796 from contracted areas. In 2012 the figure exceeded $135,153, with $47,893 coming from the contracted areas. All of this information is public, audited independently each year and verifiable from multiple independent sources.

        • To vigodogod, you are most certainly entitled to your opinion on any topic, but smart remarks usually come back to bite you in the ass if you know what I mean. Go to the meetings and voice your opinion where it counts as well as a blog that doesn’t.

          • Debbie,
            No, I don’t know what you mean. Please educate me.

            To borrow part of a quote from David Jones to Joey “it is absolutely FALSE and MISLEADING to the public” to refer to grants as FREE MONEY. It’s wrong, I pointed it out. And in no way was my first comment snarky. Maybe I could’ve been a little nicer in my comment. Ok, disregard my original post and replace it with this:

            “Dear Sir,
            In your recent comment on the Parkesburg Gazette web blog, you referred to grants as ‘FREE MONEY’. It is with deep regret that I am to inform you of your incorrectness in the explanation of grants as ‘FREE MONEY’. Please refrain from future references otherwise I will be forced to draft an even more sternly worded response that may have more than one frowny faces at the end.

            Kind regards and I hope that this message finds you in good heath.
            Cheers”

            Better?

        • David,

          The cost of the police department is roughly $1 Million per year. You aren’t trying to justify the size based on $135,153 in revenue from fines, are you? Also, the 2014 Budget is only showing $109,100.

          • Absolutely not Tim. I’m simply stating that the talk related to the fines is inaccurate. The figures I stated also DO NOT include the revenue from the contracts that the municipalities pay. As I read the 2014 budget there is a total of $272,525 the police are budgeted to bring in against their costs.
            As I’ve stated in the past, to cut the police in a way that actually starts to save money and cut the overall cost to taxpayers, you have to first cut deep enough to offset most of this figure. Then you have to factor that there are unemployment costs and benefit payments that are required for up to 6 months following any full time furlough.
            What I have also consistently said is that I do NOT agree with the notion that there is no crime in Parkesburg.
            If crime is at a low rate (which I do not agree) that does not mean it will stay low after police are reduced. I firmly believe that the majority (one half plus one) of borough residents want to feel safe and want an obvious police presence in town. I also KNOW that the park would be a shambles in less than a month without an active presence there. Just look at the school board meetings Tim, where the most vocal group to date has been in favor of an armed presence in the school, even though there is literally NO crime there and at best a very remote chance of any in the future. People want to be and feel safe. The very vocal minority voicing their issues on these pages about the police are not representative of anything other than the several people who repeatedly beat the same dull drum and continue to make false and unfounded allegations. Given all of your attention to detail in so many matters I’m surprised you continue to post such wild and outlandish nonsense when there is NOTHING to support it.

          • Where is this major crime David? Ken has the inside scoop, and his Police Activity reports (which it looks like he stopped publishing in November). Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen anything that could be classified as major crimes. We have mostly teens acting stupid, adults misusing alcohol, and traffic violations. Outside of an issue with the basketball courts, back in the 90s, I don’t think there has ever been a major crime issue that one could point to justifying the way the police department has been expanded… and I don’t even know if that could be classified as a major issue.

            On the issue of contracts, does it even cover the costs of the coverage (manpower and equipment) the borough is obligated to maintain? What is the total compensation package for the full-time officer? Why are we doing it? Is the borough being held harmless, in these agreements, if a liability happens?

            Parkesburg, in a very short time, went from a part-time department to large inter-municipal department. What justified all that?

          • Tim, haven’t we beat this horse enough already? I didn’t expand the police department or a single contract. I don’t think I mentioned “major” crimes in my comments either, yet you seem to want to put those words in and make it “seem” like I said it, which you know is not true. Don’t be fooled about what Ken does or doesn’t have either. I can tell you for certain he has no inside information regarding crime or the workings of the police department. Maybe if a teen “acting stupid” keyed your car and cost you several thousand dollars you wouldn’t be so quick to gloss over it. Maybe if you were the victim or your wife or children you would actually want the services of a top notch investigator. Maybe if the police didn’t have the Arms to watch over (not kids by the way) crime and nuisance calls could be reduced as well. Maybe if we didn’t have sexual predators (once again not kids, but preying on kids), living in town, maybe if we didn’t have retail theft, maybe if we didn’t have domestic violence (often one of the more lethal crimes), I could go on, but I won’t Tim. Once again, you trivialize crime and write it off as kids acting stupid, while I have a different view. You certainly know by now that I do not support more protection than is absolutely necessary and unlike you or Joey or any of the other critics, I’ve actually tried to work on some of these issues and come up with solutions. It’s not easy to do and you will be learning this very soon, if you haven’t begun to understand yet. If you vote against armed guards in the school and it passes anyway and we spend $100,000 on it, is it fair for me to come back to you and blame you? If we get a tax increase from the school district after you said you would never vote for any tax increase, whose to blame then? You’ve cut off discussions in the past and this one has been beat up more than any other. Why not shut it down? Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 19:43:20 +0000 To: davidjones384@msn.com

          • I never shut down a discussion, Dave. I shut down a thread, and asked the conversation to move to a more appropriate section.

            It was you who asserted that this town needed a large police department for people to be safe, as if there is a major crime issue facing the borough.

            The Highway Safety Unit, pulling over truck drivers, certainly does not curb domestic violence or address the issues at the Arms, does it? If the total fines expected for 2014 are only $109,100, then I even doubt the revenue generated specifically from commercial vehicle fines justify the time and effort of our municipal police force doing them, especially when the state has their own teams tasked with dealing with commercial vehicles.

            You mentioned that there are costs associated with layoff police officers. We lost one contract this year. What happens if we lose more? Who is on the hook for the costs? The Parkesburg taxpayers are.

            The idea that the police department is too large is not one manufactured by Mr Rzonca.

          • I didn’t say it was manufactured by anybody Tim. It’s a real and legitimate issue, but it’s been talked to death! I did NOT assert we need a “large” police department either. I have always asserted we need “adequate” coverage. I have always defined that to be 7 members of the force including the Chief and Secretary. I have never supported State Police coverage. You keep discussing this and beating it over and over and neither you or Joey or any of the other complainers have made any difference or change. That’s because your tactics are totally and completely ineffective. You can’t force these changes to happen, you need cooperation at every level and you don’t get cooperation by sniping and pointing fingers all the time no matter how self-satisfying that may feel. Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 21:18:31 +0000 To: davidjones384@msn.com

          • Just to butt in a minute, I think the comment about Ken having info may have started with me. I had asked him repeatedly where he was getting all the detail he was posting about different crimes in the burg because I had sent a request for the Chief’s report and all it had were numbers. I kept asking Ken where he was getting all the detail and I couldn’t. I sent back the request to Wendy and she said I had to ask the Chief’s secretary. (Who is not the Open records person I didn’t think) I sent her a request and she sent me back a note saying she didn’t have it either, that I had to ask the Chief! WHAT?? So I still haven’t found out yet why the Chief felt it was okay to give the detailed information to Ken but I couldn’t get it on a request to the open records person, Wendy. I still don’t know so I have to track down the Chief I guess and ask him. Now in my opinion this is dumb, dumb, double dumb but that’s just my opinion and we know what that’s worth. Sorry to butt in there guys.

          • Please come on in Debbie. It is dumb. Police arrests and activity is public domain and should be made public regularly. When we had a local newspaper the police report was in every issue. Believe me Ken has been frustrated as well. I read 5 newspapers a day and they all report police activity. This is vital information for the public to have so we all know what is happening in our neighborhoods and how it is being handled. Blogs like Ken’s and Tim’s are not viewed as legitimate news sources by some folks and so they are not given the information as readily. Ken’s former editor Dominic actually had more luck getting info then Ken has had.

          • The posts did say Courtesy of Chief Sheller. Trust me I’ll get to the bottom of this one. Public record is just that, public. So if Ken could get the Chief to tell him he better start putting it in his reports or what’s the point of even getting the reports. I can’t figure out why everything is so hush hush at the boro. It’s ridiculous. Is Dominic gone now? I liked Ken’s blog before Dominic came on board. i stopped reading it. There’s too much buddy stuff going on up there. I feel bad for Carol and then find out that Moran was yelling at her and had to be led out by the mayor. ?? That’s allegedly
            of course. ever since I started coming to meetings last year it’s all been so secretive. And then Chuckie yelling at me. I’m about done.

        • I’ll be more than happy to show you the fines for traffic violations and like I said a majority are $25. The fees that you talk about do not go to the borough but to the court and the EMS. And I have yet to see any Parkesburg officer (which have to have special training) conducted inspections on commercial vehicles where large fines are imposed. It’s obvious that the amount report were the total of the fines including court cost, and EMS tax.. However the borough can only collected 25% of the base fee. Which take for instance running a stop sign is $25. So like I said the numbers are misleading cause that’s not the number the borough gets!

          • The police contracts are up this year…The council won’t get rid of them because Kathy Ricks son is dating the chiefs niece and it is a family business now in my opinion. The town needs to get rid of all the part time cops immediately and demote the chief back down to a patrolman, but that is just my opinion as well.

  15. At the last borough meeting I did record most of it before I had to leave for a personal matter, and I saw Ken chatting it up with the Chief and it is on film if you don’t believe me. I recorded that meeting because it was a legal matter that should have been recorded to keep both parties honest and nothing more. For David’s comment about the snipping tactics I just want to say that I agree with you that it is ineffective, but I tried to ask the borough council and the Mayor for simple answers to questions through emails and all I got was basically insults and claims that I was making false accusations even when I explained that I had witnesses and video footage of the incidents. Like Debbie said it is all hush hush and that leads to suspicion as to what is really going on behind the scenes.

    The police were proud to say they had $17,000 in fines this month, but it still doesn’t justify why we have so many officers on the payroll. The police would need to bring in around $60,000 a month for a total of $700,000 a year just to cover their own costs, so how are they making money for the borough by bringing in $17,000 a month, or even $20,000 a month? Are we losing money now by having all these cops on the beat? I agree that their budget is usually around $1,000,000 a year, but I don’t see how we can afford that as tax payers with $17,000 a month in my opinion.

    I had to file an open records request just to find out what the Parkesburg police mission statement is? Why not just send me a pdf? Did you know that their are no ordinances or policies for take home vehicles according to Wendy? If they don’t have a policy how are their any regulations for that privilege?

    I wanted to add that I enjoy having a police force in town, so please don’t think I’m some quack! I’m just trying to justify the costs. I don’t think it is economically fair to the residents during these harsh economic time.

  16. Joey, on the legal matter, they did have an official court reporter and that is the standard for such meetings. It’s the same as legal matters in court that are documented the same way.
    I’m not sure I know the best way to try to repair all of the bad feelings that have gone under the bridge now. I do agree that public documents should be made easily accessible and borough employees and officials should always treat the public with respect. I truly believe there is nothing that would cause concern in any documents because I really believe the employees and elected officials have acted honestly and fairly in their duties (although public verbal outbursts are another matter). I’m sure it hurts on many levels for them to read such harsh statements and criticisms, although I must admit that at times they have brought it on themselves and have no one else to blame. In my past experiences in my professional career when I had harsh critics, I would try to bring them in to my office, bring in whatever other staff I needed and lay out documents and other materials and go over issues one by one in an attempt to be as open and forthright as possible. That’s all I could do. It wasn’t designed to silence a criticism, but to make sure respect and decency was maintained in the dialogue. My old boss used to tell me I could take an hour now or spend weeks responding at another level later and that is so true.
    Likewise, when I am on the other side and asking questions or criticizing actions, I always try to acknowledge something good and well-intentioned. I think when we put a person’s back to the wall, they often come out angry and things break down from there and no one feels the better for it.
    I don’t think anyone expects the police to pay for themselves with the revenue they bring in. There is a cost for police services no matter what the jurisdiction, so I think it is better to think of the revenue as off-setting “some” of the costs. Whether the force is too big or too expensive is a legitimate issue and I think everyone knows that. It’s just that there are differences of opinion on the matter and no one will ever get an elected official to change their position on such a matter. The only way to go about that is to run for the position and make the change you want to see. In the mean time we are all free to express ourselves and that’s a right! It’s just not fair to make it personal. I feel bad for Carol also. I think she is a good person and trying to make Parkesburg a better place. It’s truly disheartening to see any public employee or elected official verbally abuse a citizen. At the same time it is hard to watch such personal attacks on our public employees and officials. Criticize their decisions and actions, but don’t make it personal.
    Joey, there are many issues that can (maybe should) be reduced to policy and are not in the Burg. I think that is up to the officials to decide. Some people like to keep things less “official” for many reasons. Again, everybody has their way of doing things. You can get so bogged down in policies you can’t move or work. When I go to the policy meetings at the school board it reminds me so much of my public service work. I’m not so sure it is advisable to want the borough to get that bogged down. If you think about it, without the policy the council is free to put restrictions on the use of cars. Once you have a policy you get bound by that and it becomes much harder to respond in some instances.

    • We don’t need a policy for the vehicles David we just need to fire all the cops and sell the vehicles and not have to worry about it anymore…I think the chief overstepped his bounds with many tax payers over the years, and I think after he crashed his police vehicle with his family in the car put the final nail in the coffin for him and his police force in my opinion. The police force is a major liability to the tax payers now more than ever because they don’t bring in revenue, and they think they can do whatever they want in my opinion. This is a mixture for disaster, and the tax payers are on the hook for the police department mistakes. How long before something happens and the police find themselves in a legal battle over something stupid. Lester Thomas was involved in a harassment case years ago, so it can happen again. Look at the actions of the chiefs Sgt at the last meeting where he yelled at a tax payer. The actions of the officers reflect upon the character of the chief, and from what I have seen I am ashamed of the town for hiring them. Put the chief in Kensington Philadelphia for a day where I grew up and see how long he lasts. He wants to be labeled as a hero, but he wouldn’t last a day down on Frankford Ave. in my opinion.

  17. I’ll just say one more thing and then I’m done. Chuckie Persch attacked me personally. I could never have imagined him doing that. I’ve known their family practically my whole life too. I can’t imagine you would have ever spoken to me that way if you were still on boro council. And Chuckie never apologized to me. He could have sent me a message if he didn’t want to do it in public which leads me to believe he thinks he’s right in what he did. We all grew up together and to have him do that was the biggest slap in the face ever. That’s how they get rid of people that they don’t approve of. Bully them til they just stop coming. Well I’m not gone!

    • It was the most embarrassing moment I ever experienced in a council meeting for sure (granted there have been many that were far worse, but I wasn’t there for them). It’s interesting that the new policy on speaking at council (not asking questions mind you) does acknowledge “residents and taxpayers” having the “Right” to speak. I say this because I also believe the way Jim was dismissed was wrong and I see the new policy as clarifying that once and for all. I wonder how it would go down if the Coatesville School Board told their constituents they could not ask any questions? I understand the purpose is to avoid nasty and hostile confrontations, but I think that’s what the gavel is for. I also think every adult has a responsibility to act with dignity in public debate. Every conversation doesn’t have to have a winner and a loser. Sometimes the quiet voice is heard the loudest.
      I’d really like to see everyone take a big step back in the New Year, refrain from personal attacks and bring a sense of respect, openness and common discourse back into play. That’s from all of us. I think we would all be the better for it and the borough would benefit also.

  18. The political landscape in the burg remains unchanged. The same council and mayor so don’t expect any changes other than status quo. Until public plugs into their community it is highly unlikely police force will be cut back. Again from past history public & council will come under great pressure from union if reductions are sought. The best that can be expected is reduction of part time officers. Also there is a shortfall in money needed for bridge project if it costs $5M. Expect increase in taxes to pay for 5% required by state in next couple of years. During last tax increase borough was able to put $135K in bank last year to offset 5% down money. This year no money has been earmarked to be saved for bridge project. My first question is why an additional $135K was not contributed to fund. What happened to this money. I believe it has been absorbed in operating budget. It is true we lost part time police contract for Kennett and Atglen. This is lost revenue towards bottom line. Not sure what cuts if any were taken to reduce overhead and labor force. Again status quo, no cuts, business as usual. Tim if congress has an all time low approval rating, I wonder what Borough Council rating would be with folks. Maybe a poll is in order to provide a base line, just a recommendation.
    Still feel we should seek grant money, even though this is not free money, the county has no expectation of getting paid back. Don’t want to debate symantics.

    • This is what is coming for the new year…

      “A recall election (also called a recall referendum or representative recall) is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended. Recalls, which are initiated when sufficient voters sign a petition, have a history dating back to the ancient Athenian democracy[1] and are a feature of several contemporary constitutions.”

  19. Are you going to get a petition going? If so, who are you going to try to recall? How many signatures do you need on a petition? When does the petition need to be certified? If you are attempting to recall more than one person, I assume you will need more than one petition? Is the vote standard for a recall higher than just 50%? If a recall removes a member of council, doesn’t the remainder of council have the authority to appoint a replacement, at least temporarily? I’m not aware of any past attempts at such a move in Parkesburg so it would be good to help us understand how this works. I’m serious here, I really don’t know much about this process.

    • The details for the recall election can be found on the internet, or by talking to someone from the voter services department at the Government building in West Chester and the rest is confidential at the moment. Looks like you will have to wait till it happens.

      • Well, I tried looking it up and it looks to me like you cannot recall someone within the first year they were elected or within the last 9 months of the term. That kind of narrows the field I would say. It also looks like you need the signature of 20% of the registered voters. Since fewer than 20% actually voted in the last election, that’s a mighty high bar. Since this limits the process to 3 members of council (4 and the Mayor having just been elected) it would seem a little more practical to just run candidates in the primary to oppose any incumbent if any of the 3 run for re-election in 2015, since by the time you get a recall vote in place and ready it would almost certainly be bumped to the primary in May anyway. Not sure why a recall petition would be such a secret since you need to gather tremendous support. It would seem getting the word out as quickly and often as possible would build the momentum needed. The recalls I’ve read about nationally have all been very open trying to do just that, gather support even as the petitions are circulating. I’m not criticizing here, just trying to understand.

        • Your research is correct, and yes it will take a year before it all happens. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to run for office until after it happens, and I don’t need to put it on the news to get momentum for signatures. I am a door to door guy.

  20. Has anyone else noticed the violations with the old Keen Lumber yard? I sent an email to the borough council about it and there was no response, so I guess if you are a council member who owns an illegal junk yard it is “ok” in my opinion!

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