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East Greenville Resumes Emergency Services Funding Discussion
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2023-10-04

           East Greenville Council resumed discussions Monday about how to increase funding for emergency services in the borough. One option could include further delaying the proposed renovation of the borough hall.

            Vice President John Dingler decided to postpone discussion on two bids to complete the work at 206 Main St., as well discussion to sell pews and purchase new furniture. During the meeting, Dingler – who chairs the borough's Property Committee – said the suggestion from an audience member to use the money in support of the East Greenville Fire Company and the Upper Perk Ambulance made sense to him.

            Ryan Sloyer, a former mayor and member of council, recommended that the elected officials forgo the need to refurbish the former church. He argued that helping both entities remain financially solvent should take precedence.

            Municipal officials allocated $152,000 for the renovation project in the borough's current budget. After the meeting – which lasted nearly three hours, and included an extensive discussion with representatives of the fire company and ambulance organization – Dingler said he wasn't opposed to delaying the work until next year, or even cancelling it for the benefit of both entities.

            "The fire department and ambulance are more important than making this space more efficient," he said after the meeting.

            Two council members, Dingler and Melissa Leinbach, expressed verbal support for a dedicated tax millage for the fire company and the ambulance service. Mayor Stephen Wescott proposed a one-mill increase that he estimated would cost the average property owner an additional $100 per year.

            Leinbach said she favored that rate. According to Dingler, a dedicated millage rate would help both organizations budget.

            "I can't afford a tax hike," said Leinbach, who owns Gemini Hair Salon, located next to the municipal building. "All of my expenses have gone up. But we've got to keep them going," Leinbach said.

            Wescott argued that the dedicated tax millage would provide a "shot in the arm to the firefighters. He claimed that "they don't think council cares about them." 

            Council President Angie Fegely didn't rule out any option. She told the audience that the implementation of a dedicated tax remains a possibility.  "Nothing has been confirmed," Fegely said.

            According to fire company President Joe Adam Sr., any money allocated by the borough would go directly to the engine room. Council is ultimately responsible for procuring fire protection in the borough, based on borough code.

            Chief Jason Wilson told council that any money from the municipality would be used to purchase a new vehicle. He told the members the company plans on selling two vehicles – including a 2010 KME Rescue Engine that carries an asking price of $325,000, according to information posted on its website.

            Wilson estimated the cost of the new vehicle at $1 million. He added that any delays in a purchase would likely add significant cost to the purchase.  "The cost of everything has tripled since COVID," Westcott said at the start of the discussion.

            Fegely suggested that the company utilize additional fundraising to generate more money. She also proposed making the social quarters non-smoking to attract more members.

            Wilson pushed back on both suggestions. He said the company has reached its fundraising limit due to limited volunteers. He also hypothesized that making the bar non-smoking would cost it business.

            Assistant Chief Rob Shafer told council, based on its current volunteer status, the fire company "would not be in 10 years." He argued that the eventual alternative to not creating a dedicated tax for fire protection would cost significantly more.

            "What we're asking for is peanuts compared to what the cost could be," said Shafer, who identified himself as a 28-year veteran of the company and a Pennsburg resident.

            Council will continue the same discussion during an Oct. 23 workshop meeting, according to Fegely. She said the session will be dedicated to 2024 budget deliberations.

            The members will also determine how to handle the two bids they received on the plan to renovate the municipal building. According to Dingler, John Membrino provided the low bid of $107,000 to complete the work that includes shifting the layout of the room 90 degrees clockwise, removing the wooden pews, installing a semicircle council table against a wall facing north and removal of the existing table and platform where borough officials currently sit.

           Council voted unanimously to set the time for trick or treating in the borough as 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

            The members also voted to award a contract to rebuild a the 600 block of Blaker Drive to a Chalfont company. GoreCon, Inc. will be paid $252,969 to complete the work, which is expected to start by the end of the month, according to Manager Jim Fry.

            In August, the Borough of East Greenville Police Department responded to 120 total incidents. That includes 17 each for traffic and public services, according to information collected by Chief Randy Morris.

            It also includes 13 assists, six accidents, five for parking, three thefts, two warrants and one fire. The document, pinned to a board outside the borough's meeting room, identifies 55 incidents as "other."


 

 

 

 

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