A somber moment of silence opened the Bath Borough Council meeting on Monday, March 7, as council members and residents sent their thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A bouquet of sunflowers, sent by Hayes Flowers, adorned the dais.
Like so many around the world, Bath Borough made it known that they stand with the people of Ukraine. They called Russia’s violent actions against the sovereign nation unprovoked and illegal and added that they are ready to support any sanctions the United States imposes.
“Council stands with local, state, and federal representatives with current and forthcoming sanctions against Russia,” solicitor Jamie Kratz said, reading a resolution prepared by the borough.
However, the borough acknowledged that, with these sanctions, come economic hardships for residents already struggling with 40-year-high inflation. To ease the financial burden residents may face, the council announced economic relief measures that will take effect immediately.
First, a $50 rebate will be issued for residents who have already paid their solid waste and recycling bills. For those with outstanding payments, the final due date is now Dec. 31, 2022. Outstanding payments can be made in two installments.
Next, the borough is offering a 25% discount for property owners filing their rental licensing application, relative to their application fee. Required registrants who cannot file due to economic hardship are now allowed to file no later than Jan. 1, 2023. However, landlords will be required to file immediately should the borough receive a tenant complaint.
These resolutions were passed unanimously by all members of council.
Borough Manager Brad Flynn says this economic relief package will cost the borough $54,525. However, the borough has a reserve fund of $433,000 to cover this relief. There will be no effect to the borough’s general fund.
Bath Borough may be the first municipality in the area to take such vital steps for residents, but officials hope they are not the only locality to do so.
“This is an all-call,” the borough said in a statement on Facebook. “We are hopeful this message will spread to other communities and states…Public leaders in every corner of our country will need to make difficult decisions to help their residents and ease economic distress. Choices which signal our strength, solidarity, and resolve to a means of ending the tragedies unfolding in Ukraine. It will be well worth it…We share in this burden collectively because freedom has called us all to act.”
Mayor Fiorella Mirabito echoed this sentiment.
“Our focus is and will always be doing the most we can for our residents, especially during times that the entire world is affected with difficulties as we all face today,” she said. “We must help one another, and, hopefully, it will have a ripple effect.”
In other news, the borough approved the advertisement of a new ordinance that would improve safety and parking on Northampton Street near the borough municipal parking lot and Villa Grande Pizza. This ordinance will ban stopping or standing on the north side of the street while allowing loading and 15-minute parking on the south side.
“Safety is number one, but I don’t want to harm our businesses at the same time,” said Councilman Frank Hesch.
This proposed ordinance will keep traffic flowing, stop illegal parking from blocking business driveways, improve sight safety, and still allow patrons of the street’s businesses to park safely.
The next Bath Borough Council meeting will be Monday, April 4, at 6 p.m.