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East Greenville Mayor Asks for Action on Fire Funding
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writing
2023-09-06

            East Greenville's mayor asked council Tuesday night to take action on approving a dedicated millage for the East Greenville Fire Company. Stephen Wescott said the people want a fire tax.

            "This has to start now," he said during an extensive discussion. "No more talking."

Wescott urged immediate action, but Member Joe Rock demurred, saying they had time to deal with the matter.  "We're running out of time," the mayor said.

            Melissa Leinbach expressed her agreement with Westcott. She said the members needed to make a decision.  "We keep putting this off," Leinbach said.

            Council took no action on the issue. President Angie Fegely agreed to have council revisit the matter in October following a meeting of the borough's finance committee. She said any additional borough contribution would either come out of the general fund or tax revenue but not from both sources.

            Following the three-hour meeting, Wescott could not provide a target amount of revenue needed by the company. He expressed hope that the members would settle the matter as part of the 2024 budget.

            Vice President John Dingler and Pugh verbalized their support for the tax increase. According to Dingler, the company needs the additional financial support now. "I'm all for this," he said. "I know who the money is for and who it is going to help."

            During the meeting, the members went over the company's 2021 financial audit results. Last month, Fegely and Alison Palmer - two members of the finance committee - met with Chief Jason Wilson to discuss his company's finances.

            "It did not go as well as planned," Fegely said.

            According to the council president, they went over some fundraising ideas. She described some other suggestions made to Wilson in terms of what "the company can do to help itself while the borough helps."

            Manager Jim Fry, who also serves as the fire company's deputy chief, said Wilson was hoping for more parity in East Greenville's contribution to fire service. According to calculations presented by Fry, the borough spends $7 per person, while Pennsburg and Red Hill spend approximately $23, and Upper Hanover contributes $2,119.

            "I don't believe (Wilson) is looking for a drastic increase," Fry said during the meeting.

            Rock's opinion of a dedicated millage rate appeared to evolve during the discussion. Initially, he said he didn't believe it was fair for seven people to implement a fire tax. Rock suggested that the issue be decided by a referendum.

            Fry said he didn't think the matter would pass.

            According to Leinbach, a referendum would not be fair due to the borough's high percentage of renters.

            On three later occasions, Rock stated that he was not against implementing a fire tax. He said he wanted to better understand the financing. Near the end of the discussion, the member said he was looking to get additional money to the company while minimizing the burden to residents.

            "My understanding is that the (organization) was created to be financially independent," Rock said.

            Member Ryan Pugh arrived at the meeting at 7:03 p.m. Douglas Criddle took his seat 19 minutes after the 7 p.m. start. Leinbach left at 9:24 p.m.

            In August, the Borough of East Greenville Police Department responded to 147 total incidents. According to information collected by Chief Randy Morris, that included 32 for traffic, 21 public services and 12 assists. The officers also responded to 11 accidents, two thefts and one fire, one parking incident, one animal incident, one warrant and one DUI. The information, posted on the bulletin board outside the meeting room at Borough Hall identifies 63 incidents as "other."


 

 

 

 

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