The Bath Borough Council met Monday, January 9 to discuss recycling in the borough and an upcoming special meeting, MS4 projects, and Right-To-Know requests.
During public comment, Bath resident Bobby Siegfried raised questions about what the borough is currently doing to re-implement a recycling program since the 2023 through 2025 contract with JP Mascaro does not include recycling.
Siegfried raised many points including that the United States produces 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste per year, 69 million tons of recycling, and that 50% (146 million tons) of that MSW ends up in landfills. Siegfried added that according to 2019 Pa. data, Pa. recycled 5.25 million tons of MSW, saving 7.3 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking 1.6 million vehicles off the roads.
Additionally, 94% of Pa. recycles, whereas Bath is part of the 6% that does not because the population threshold for small municipalities allows them to be exempt from having to offer recycling programs.
“Treating recycling as expendable is a ridiculous place to cut costs,” said Siegfried.
Siegfried claimed the information the borough provided to the public regarding recycling costs was misleading.
The borough has stated the Whitetail bid was for $541.51 annually and the JP Mascaro bid was for $575.01 annually for weekly recycling and waste collection, whereas Whitetail’s bid for weekly waste collection was $393.66 annually and JP Mascaro’s was $374.45 annually. The borough chose the JP Mascaro bid for weekly waste collection only.
However, Siegfried expressed he has called three local haulers and for weekly trash and recycling, they ranged in cost from $387 annually to $486, which are lower than the bids the borough received from Whitetail and JP Mascaro. Therefore, Siegfried wanted to know what the borough is doing to add the recycling program back.
Council discussed that in order to add the recycling program back, they would have to look into a reelection of recycling services and that they could look into discussing this issue further at the Wednesday, February 8 special workshop meeting.
In other news, Council President Michele Ehrgott announced the borough will now begin adding information regarding rental inspections and Right-to-Know requests to monthly agendas in an effort to be transparent with the public.
Next, Borough Manager Bradford T. Flynn shed light on upcoming Municipal Separate Storm Water Sewer System projects in the borough, which will include two retention ponds and one rain garden at a cost of approximately $480,000. As of Dec. 5, 2022, the borough will have five years to complete the projects, which will help reduce the borough’s impact on nearby waterways through sediment control.
Manager Flynn shared that 2023 will require planning, and then construction will begin in 2024 for the retention ponds and rain garden. The retention ponds will be added to Holiday Hill and the 100 block of Spyglass Hill Road. The rain garden will be on the George Wolf Elementary School property to collect rainwater.
Due to a recent Right-to-Know request from a borough resident, Manager Flynn also shared some information regarding Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito and Councilman Manny Mirabito’s health insurance.
Over the span of three years, the Mirabitos unknowingly missed nine payments for their health insurance plan, which amounted to a total of $10,501.31. The Right-to-Know request brought the discrepancy to light and the Mirabitos wrote the borough a check for the full amount two days after the discrepancy was found.
The borough has since released statements explaining that some premium payments were either missed or reimbursement checks were written out with wrong amounts and that the borough’s accountant at the time did not identify the mistakes. Therefore, the reimbursement payments were not recorded in a correct accounting standard of practice, which made the discrepancies difficult to track. Unfortunately, auditors did not catch the discrepancies either.
Manager Flynn met with auditors and lawyers regarding the situation, which did not require a forensic accountant since no other funds were missing and all discrepancies were rectified.
The borough has now employed the services of a professional bookkeeper and has begun procedural changes with accounting practices in order to prevent future mistakes from occurring. Additionally, the professional bookkeeper has spent time rectifying the intricacies of the borough’s accounting errors and will help cut down on the amount of time it takes to do the borough’s books because the previous employee(s) was not qualified for the position. The borough has never had a professional bookkeeping service until now.
Manager Flynn has acknowledged that mistakes were made.
“The borough will continue to evaluate this incident, learn from what happened, and do everything that it can to prevent future mistakes like this from occurring again,” said Flynn.
Mayor Mirabito has sincerely apologized and shared that this was simply an oversight because she would never take from the borough.
As of Jan. 1, 2023, the Mirabitos will no longer be accepting healthcare coverage from the borough.
The next Bath Borough Council regular monthly meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 6 at 6 p.m. in the borough’s office, located at 121 S. Walnut St. The next bi-monthly workshop meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 8 at 6 p.m.