A series of decisions over the past several days by the members of Borough Council who show up to meetings seem to have the Borough poised to make positive growth in the new year. On Monday, Council voted 4-0 (Paterson, Reeves, Stewart, and Tatisciore) with one abstention (Thompson) to honorably discharge Bill Conner. Pappas, Kerns, and Orr were not present at the meeting for yet another month.
The mood in Council chambers was quiet when the motion passed, with no comment or response from either the Council members or the audience. Council moved on with the regular business after the vote without comment. Councilman Stewart later commented that the decision was a difficult one but one that was in the best interest of the Borough. That statement is true. If Conner is in fact not fit for duty, it is in the best interest of the Borough residents to pay a chief who can perform the actions of a police officer.
The Council will now need to look for a new chief. Current acting chief, Police Officer Ed Mokshefsky, will most likely be given serious consideration for the top job. Mokshefsky has handled himself extremely well over the past several months, given the cavernous divide between the Council and the Mayor. I can’t imagine the tight rope that he has had to walk has been easy, given that his supervisors have literally given him opposite directives for six plus months (Mayor says no bike patrol, Council says yes to the bike patrol). It would seem like Mokshefsky deserves a shot at the top job given how well he has handled this scenario.
Council also voted 5-0 (Paterson, Thompson, Reeves, Stewart, and Tatisciore) on a preliminary budget that includes no reduction in services or tax increase. Again, Orr, Kerns, and Pappas were absent. I am quite pleased to see no tax increase, especially given the accusations Kerns’ made about the RRPOE group liking to spend money during the primary election. Apparently, they are able to balance a budget, as we have hired a full time police force, opened a fire house, have trash pick up twice per week with no fee, and had no raise in taxes.
The budget includes a tipping fee rate for trash that is equal to this year’s fees ($40,000). However, the more residents recycle, the less that fee will be. If only 20% recycle, which is the RRPOE goal, that fee will decrease to $32,000. Start talking to your neighbors. Recycling will not only help the environment. It was save tax money. Recycling is scheduled to start the first full week of January. The more resident recycle, the less we pay in tipping fees.
It does appear that the sewer fee may increase due to Delcora’s fees changing, but that is only going to be about $20-30 more for the year. The Council is also exploring moving to a “usage fee” instead of a flat rate sewer rate, which will help senior citizens.
Finally, the Council voted 5-0 (same as the budget vote) to give the Police Secretary Christmas Eve off and a ½ day on New Year’s Eve, just like all of the other non-uniform employees of the Borough. Apparently, the Council had to do this because this employee was told by the Mayor that she had to work those days, despite all of the other employees being given the time off.
Which brings me to my final mention of Ralph Orr. He most likely started doing this job with the best of intentions but somewhere along the way, he forgot that part of the process of being Mayor includes dealing with people who think differently. There are just too many people who once supported this guy whom now he can’t or won’t talk to that it just amazes me how he never learned how to not burn bridges. I can’t understand how Danielle Thompson fought harder than most to get Orr reelected, but when the hard questions were being asked, he has cowered away and hid while Thompson showed up month after month to meetings. Actually, I can believe it. That is just how Orr works. If he does not get his way, then he makes two year old temper tantrums look mild.
Here is my hope for the New Year. I hope Orr's last months as Mayor serve as a lesson to the incoming Council and Mayor. I am sure at one point Orr had great intentions, just like the RRPOE candidates do now. I hope the RRPOE candidates learn to deal with differing opinions in a way that Orr and his crew never could. Orr and his people cut people off, bullied them, or just flat out ignored them. Look at the shear quantity of people that once supported Orr who now have been ostracized or who have just chosen to walk away. I hope the RRPOE takes the time to, at minimum, hear all of the residents as they make decisions to advance the Borough. Working with everyone is not an easy task.
It is time for the residents to work together, even if that means disagreeing at times on the path forward. I hope we now have leaders that can show us how we can think differently but still work together to make this Borough this great place it can be.