2008-11-13 / Front Page

Council Grapples With Police Issue Again

Business owner threatens abolishment of council

Tempers flared again during last Wednesday evening's regular Borough Council meeting as the majority of council members continued to be put on the defensive over their decision to abolish the town's two-man police force effective at the end of this calendar year.

Borough business owner Don Peck appeared before council to address the issue and began his comments by saying, "I mean no disrespect, but you folks need to clean up your act." Peck went on to say that he thought it was totally inappropriate that a councilman had told fellow councilman Jim Smith that "his vote didn't count because he doesn't pay taxes in the borough." When council members denied such a statement, Smith spoke up and said that he had been told that in reference to the fact that he does not own property in the borough although he does pay all other taxes. Smith supports the borough's police department and has been very vocal in his efforts to retain the two officers. Smith, Lee Rager and Mike Chilcote have all expressed support for the department in the past, but Rager and Chilcote made no comment during Peck's exchange with council.

Peck went on to tell council members that the borough's business community is very upset at the loss of the police department and will be holding a meeting in the near future. "Where are your financial records?" Peck asked and then suggested council find them because "you're going to need them." "Start thinking about your residents and your businesses," Peck said. He also decried council's lack of effort in finding businesses to locate in the borough and said that "only Lindsay Mellott when she was the Main Street manager ever did anything for the downtown." Mellott was Main Street manager from 1994 to 1999.

Peck said that council should have an agenda for each monthly meeting, and it should be published prior to the meeting. Smith agreed, saying, "I never know what we are going to be doing or addressing until I get here." Smith also accused council of not giving him information on the borough's financial condition until he had asked for it in writing. Peck told council it was time for them to become computerized in their operations.

He concluded his comments by saying, "Just like you abolished the police force, this town can abolish this council, and I know how to do it - you had no right to abolish the police department without consulting the voters." Although council did hold a public meeting on the matter, Peck has said in the past that it should have been a ballot referendum. Other business

During other business Wednesday evening, council adopted a resolution designating the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism as its tourist promotion agency. The designation is needed so that the chamber can apply for grants from the state's tourism agency.

Council voted to delay erecting crosswalk signs and painting crosswalks at the courthouse until spring due to cold weather affecting the paint.

Borough secretary Jack Fields reported that an appraisal recently completed on the Fulton House set the value at $936,000. The appraisal does not include the building's contents, according to Fields.

Council members also voted to approve the purchase of a new fax machine/copier to replace the current one that is no longer in working condition.

Council also authorized Penn- DOT to investigate the costs of putting in a streetlight at the corner of east Fifth and Poplar streets. Fields told council it will likely cost between $500 to $600 unless a transformer is needed. A transformer would increase the total cost to more than $1,000.

Also during other business, council adjourned to an executive session with borough solicitor Carlton Walker and with John D. Vargo, consulting actuary with Conrad Sigel Actuaries. The session was called to discuss "employment matters," according to attorney Walker. Conrad Sigel is the borough's actuary for the police pension fund.

Following the 80-minute session, council made no comment on the session. Attorney Walker characterized the end-of-contract negotiations

with the McConnellsburg Borough

Police Association as "ongoing" when asked. Police report

Councilman Jim Smith gave the police report for October, which included: 22 parking tickets, 7 traffic citations, 9 traffic warnings, 3 criminal investigations, 2 traffic accident investigations, 107 requests to "see an officer," 14 school patrols, 2 court appearances, 1 abandoned vehicle and 1 request to assist the state police. Regular business

During regular business, council approved payment of bills in the amount of $27,925. Receipts for the same period were $30,239. Checks were written for a total of $46,639, leaving a November 1 balance of $30,660.

Council members attending the meeting were Rick Buterbaugh, Travis Bard, Mike Chilcote, Pat Frazier, Lee Rager, Jim Smith, Mack Shaffer and Mayor Jim Stenger.

Borough Council meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Fulton House. The next regular meeting will be held on December 3, 2008.

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