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Pennsburg Declines to Fund Crossing Guards
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Pennsburg Borough Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance allowing the Upper Perkiomen School District to continue deploying crossing guards in the municipality. However, the borough won't help pay for the service.

            The unanimously approved measure includes language that does not require the community to contribute any money.  "We don't want to be responsible for the funding," Council President Diane Stevens said prior to the vote.

            The school district will have to cover those costs, according to Sandra Kassel, the district's business administrator. Kassel asked the members to approve a $9,500 contribution towards the service of crossing guards in the area of the high school and the new middle school on Montgomery Avenue.

            Officials in Upper Hanover and Red Hill have already approved a similar ordinance and agreed to pay a similar amount as part of a multi-municipal arrangement with the district. A California company has contracted with the district to handle all personnel and training issues related to the five guards.

            After the motion for approval was made and seconded, and before the final vote, Mayor Vicki Lightcap started to discuss the proposed purchase of a public address system, listed on the meeting agenda, for which the members recently budgeted $14,000. However, Stevens banged her gavel and quickly called for a voice vote.

            "You are out of order," Stevens said to the mayor.

            Solicitor Daniel Sager chastised Lightcap, sitting to his immediate right. Sager asked her "not to do that again" and stated that the incident lowered his opinion of her.

            Kassel expressed hope that the three communities would enter into an inter-municipal agreement with the district. However, she said after the vote she would need to confer with the district's solicitor.  "At this point, I'm not sure what that agreement would look like," Kassel said.

            Without the approved ordinance, district officials would have been forced to withdraw one crossing guard from the Pennsburg portion of the intersection at 11th and Main streets, according to Kassel. She explained that the borough is responsible for 2 1/3 of the five crossing guards that are stationed between 8th and 11th streets.

            Vice President Patrick Suter and council member F. Robert Seville described the safety of children in the borough as a top priority. But both suggested that the district should cover the cost.

            Seville asked Kassel why the entire district wasn't being taxed to cover the expense. Suter suggested that the school cover the cost since it had a bigger pot of money.

            Later, the members voted unanimously to spend $13,234.99 to purchase a public address system from Clear Sounds for the council chambers. According the Seville, the sound system is necessary so citizens sitting in the back of the meeting room can hear the members clearly.

Municipal officials included $14,000 for the purchase in the budget during a special meeting earlier this month. The system will download meeting minutes onto a computer, according to Administrative Manager Lisa Hiltz.

            In other news, the members approved a motion to move forward with hiring a part-time police officer. They voted to advertise the position. The Upper Perk Police Department will accept applications in February, according to Chief Joe Adam Jr.

            Council also approved spending $5,210.08 to purchase six new computers for the police department. The new machines – which include Windows 10 – are necessary in order to maintain the department's contract with the Pennsylvania State Police Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network (CLEAN). The department needs to obtain computers that can receive security updates, according to a Jan. 7 letter from Adam to Stevens.

            They also voted to spend approximately $40 a month to obtain emails with government emails for themselves and the mayor. Seville expressed a need to protect his personal emails in the case of a Right to Know request.





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