Bath Borough Council met Wednesday, February 8 for their bi-monthly meeting where council members and residents discussed recycling reconsideration and the nuisances caused by some residents parking vehicles in their yards.
First, Council President Michele Ehrgott gave a statement to the public in regards to the recent shooting that took place in the borough on Friday, February 3 just after 2 a.m. near the 100 block of East Main Street, which is currently being investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police.
“The borough sympathizes with your concerns and we’re just as concerned by the seriousness of the event that unfolded as you are. It’s a sobering reminder of the threats of violence ever present in our culture today. We’ll need to work together thinking through this as a community in the months ahead. While there were many public suggestions offered during the Monday council meeting, the borough will not make any hasty decisions…[we] will carefully evaluate options going forward with you in mind,” said Ehrgott.
Next, council jumped right into the recycling discussion with Borough Manager Bradford Flynn breaking down estimates of the annual sanitation administrative costs, which total approximately $75,486.36 for 924 billable units or $81.70 for each of the billable units and does not include a recycling program for residents.
These costs included $21,359.62 for the office secretary/bookkeeping, $1,500 for VUB tech/programming software, $500 for IT work, $700 for office supplies, $11,342.27 for FY 2022 sanitation legal fees, $1,500 for sanitation delinquent fees and any additional Portnoff fees, $1,700 for EBC printing and postage, $11,380.82 for the 2023 First Regional Compost Authority contract, $17,303.65 for Public Works services, and $8,200 for a three-year average of the $24,405.82 delinquent funds from 2020 to 2022 for contingency/delinquent stabilization.
Currently, the borough also charges a 10% penalty for delinquent payments after May 31, however, the borough has carried this debt since 2008 and it continues to accrue as some residents do not pay their debt. Even though some residents do not pay their sanitation bills, the borough cannot stop their sanitation collection. Instead, the borough must go through the civil process of a debt collection for delinquent accounts.
One resident pointed out that delinquent accounts create an undue burden on other residents.
Resident Bobby Siegfried raised questions about re-implementing a recycling program since the 2023 through 2025 contract with JP Mascaro does not include recycling.
“It would be nice if our tax dollars could go towards an interim solution like a dumpster or some service because I think it is the borough’s responsibility to do that,” said Siegfried.
President Ehrgott explained that many residents are currently calling because they can’t afford their sanitation bill as it is because costs went up. Cost inflation is why the borough decided to opt for sanitation services only.
Siegfried stated that the borough could have allowed residents to hire their own independent haulers for sanitation and recycling because the quotes he compiled from other sanitation services were significantly less than their current sanitation bill.
Councilman Manny Mirabito explained that this would not have been an option because each independent hauler has different collection days, which would worsen traffic conditions and negatively impact road conditions. Additionally, some residents may have opted to not hire an independent hauler and put their trash and recycling into other residents’ bins to avoid paying for sanitation services.
Vice President Frank Hesch expressed that the option of having a dumpster on site for recycling could possibly bridge the gap to provide a service but would be an additional contract that the borough could look into with associated costs.
Borough Solicitor James F. Kratz is currently looking into future recycling options, but in the meantime, council voted to hand the discussion over to the Health, Sanitation, and Water Authority Committee with Siegfried spearheading the project to find possible solutions.
Next, council discussed how residents previously raised the topic of wanting permission to park in their yards, however the ordinance in question was never amended to allow residents to use their yards as a driveway. Some residents have been continuing to do so anyway. The borough has been getting many complaints due to the mud that is being dragged into streets and alleys, which then goes into stormwater retention basins and impacts the Municipal Separate Storm Water Sewer System—potentially causing the borough to get penalized. As a result, the borough has begun handing out ordinance violations for improper use.
Individuals found violating the ordinance will receive a letter with instructions on what their options are. They can then file for a zoning permit to create a parking pad or driveway, or they can choose to turn the violation into a civil issue.
Council decided to read the ordinance to the public at a future meeting to vote on whether they want to amend the ordinance or continue enforcing it as it currently reads.
Bath Borough Council’s next bi-monthly meeting will be Wednesday, April 12 at 6 p.m. at the borough building.