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Real estate taxes in Susquehanna County will remain the same in 2006 as they were in 2005, according to action taken by the county commissioners on the 2006 county budget.
At a special meeting last Friday, the commissioners passed the $19 million budget with only one noticeable change. Not only will the real estate taxes remain at 12.543 mills, but the occupation tax will also remain the same – 17 mills.
When the commissioners introduced the budget, they announced that the occupation tax would increase to 25 mills. However, it was brought to their attention that the maximum that could be charged in occupation tax is 20 mills. After some thought, it was decided to keep the 17 mills.
Another contributing factor to keeping the occupation tax at 17 mills might have been Commissioner Jeff Loomis’ declaration at a recent meeting that there is plenty of money in the county coffers. In fact, Mr. Loomis said the county will enter the New Year with more than $900,000 in the general fund. However, the announcement has stirred up yet another question, why do the commissioners intend to take out a Tax Revenue Anticipation Note (TRAN) if there is almost $1 million leftover from 2005.
One source told The Transcript that $900,000 was not enough to finance the county until some of the 2006 real estate funds begin pouring in which is usually in late April or early May. In any event, the county has a workable budget for 2006 and the county taxpayers should be pleased that there will be no millage increase.
The Forest City Regional Board of Education had little trouble selecting a new president but the vice president was nearly ambushed and ended up winning the seat by a 5-4 margin.
Dr. Henry Nebzydoski, who is the senior board member, was nominated by outgoing president Fred Garm and won the seat in a cakewalk with all nine directors voting for him.
Selecting a vice president appeared to be equally as simply. Mr. Garm again made the motion tapping Mary Emmett who just completed her first year on the board. After a second from Dr. Michael Sterchak, Tom Heller nominated Marge Schwartz and Rita Lowry seconded the motion.
Miss Emmett squeaked by with a 5-4 count on the first vote. Ironically, Dr. Nebzydoski supported Miss Emmett in a move that eliminated his Pleasant Mount colleague, Marge Schwartz. Besides Dr. Nebzydoski, Miss Emmett drew support from Al Dyno, Dr. Sterchak, Fred Garm, and herself. Voting against her were Tom Heller, Rita Lowry, Marge Schwartz and Mrs. Lorne Sutton Powell.
Miss Emmett had been serving as treasurer and was forced to relinquish it because a director cannot hold two elective positions. Mrs. Schwartz then became the board’s unanimous choice for treasurer.
Motions approved by the board completed the following business:
Approved the appointment of James Yurkanin to fill an upcoming long-term elementary substitute teaching position to cover a maternity leave. Mrs. Yurkanin will begin teaching when the holiday vacation is over.
Accepted with regret the retirement of Joanne Barron, an executive secretary, who worked for the school district for 32 years.
Approved the appointment of Ellen Wolfe as a substitute elementary teacher for the balance of the school year.
Continued the second Monday of the month at 7 p.m. for its regular meetings except for January, July, September and December, and will hold public work sessions on the first Monday of each month except for January, July and September.
Minutes were corrected from the December 13 special meeting. Note was made that board member John Halupke did ask to be removed from all committees. Halupke was absent from this evening’s board of December nineteenth.
Budget transfers were not unanimously approved. Griffiths, Price and Mr. Nate Tompkins, a new board member did not approve of the transfers. Later when questioned generally at the end of the meeting during public comment it was acknowledged that they just did not like how the money was transferred. The auditor gave a presentation and submitted an opinion letter in which he did caution the board to place money in the correct accounts. The auditor, Ernie Skiadas of the firm Vieira, Skiadas & Co. L.L.P. of Binghamton, NY, stated that equity dropped from 10 to 9.7 million due to (mostly) depreciation; everything else is “pretty much status quo.” Skiadas further stated, “There was an increase in the cash position but it was offset by a decrease in what other agencies, like the government, owed you. You collected before the end of the year more than what you were owed.” He did note that the budget and expenses were pretty much “on the money.” Skiadas noted there was “little wiggle room for unexpected expenditures.” Further a loss of $8000 was written off in bad food inventory in the cafeteria.
Skiadas complemented the board that this year only seven areas needed improvement, down from a high of seventeen a few years ago. These accounting issues were outlined in great detail. The student activities fund was one of the seven called into question. It is good to have students involved but is not required. In closing, Skiadas cautioned the board that in the Elementary Accounts, “A lot of the funds spent weren’t entirely for the benefit of the students.” The principal of the Elementary was directed to review these transactions and monitor the programs.
The Revised Student Dress Code Policy #221 was not approved when voted upon. A few parents from the public agreed with board members that the spirit of the policy should disallow vulgar wordings and inappropriate “skin”. Griffiths, Price, Stine, Tompkins, and Zick gave the nay votes. The board will now have to “tweak” the revised – revised dress code policy.
A board member clarified procedures for readings, voting and adoptions of resolutions.
The Policy Committee reported that handicapped spaces are routinely used by others. Further that emergency access zones were often blocked resulting in cars parked illegally. Also that street shoes are not to be on the basketball court floor. This is overlooked by tradition at the end of the game but generally is unacceptable behavior. A first reading was done of the “Board Governance Standards/Code of Conduct”. The Superintendent said that this is in line with the P.S.B.A.
Superintendent Art Chambers spoke briefly about the Strategic Planning that must be done. Parents and community members must be involved and two board members were recruited – Phillips and Jesse. A Wellness Council needed two board members – Halupke and Beeman were accepted for that. A Procedure & Policy for Wellness must be created by June 30, 2006.
Mr. Ordie Price was recognized and received a Certificate of appreciation for his 12 years of service...and “sterling integrity”... in the commonwealth and the District on behalf of the Board and P.S.B.A.
Conferences and field trips were approved. Tables for the Elementary will be bid and received in January. Appointments were made as follows: Beeman to Education Committee; Phillips as the NEIU Rep.; Griffiths is the Legislative Chair; Zick as PSBA rep. and still needed is a PSBA Employee relations representative.
During the second hearing of public, it was confirmed that Halupke wanted to be removed from strictly Board committees.
A mother questioned the expense of approximately $360,000 annually spent elsewhere for special ed., cyber and charter schools as well as home schoolers. Faculty cautioned that figure includes 12 special ed. Students- down from 25 - but not including the 44 technology students costing $250,000 annually.
Chambers acknowledged that “off-campus” schools are a large expense. Chambers stated that all students belong in our district. Further we need to mend these relations with these people. He stated the blended schools include all the programs, i.e. cyber or charter schools, etc. He added that in January 2006 the district will send out a survey to invite these parents and ask them, “Why did you leave and what will it take to bring you back?”
State funding can be received for every student registered in the district, so it would be great to be able to register those students. Chambers explained that as of January 1 home schoolers will be permitted “by state legislation” to participate in extra curricular activities. This is good news because previously, participation was in the hands of Boards. Homeschoolers hoped to find sympathetic board members but often did not. Now the law welcomes these students! More importantly Mountain View School District is very interested in providing quality services to all students within their district and welcomes the challenge, Chambers avers. “Our success will be based on what we have to show and offer these families,” Chambers commented. He added that, “Our goal is to have all students here in quality programs but we must have supports here – and they must be planned.”
A mother commented that she was grateful the $8000 outdated food inventory issue was addressed. She had questioned the food quality last year.
Wide Area Network, which will increase internet capabilities by 10 fold at no cost is anticipated to reach Mountain View District. Some parents said in disbelief, “Nothing is free.” A parent countered that we have already paid for years through strategic planning. The NEIU will come set up the network. It was explained that broadband service will be delivered to families homes. The internet will provide a wonderful link between school, home and community. Currently the phone is used to notify public of last minute changes in activities–not the web site. The phone is (570) 434-2180. With W.A.N. the school web site will be greatly improved.
Books 10 years old or more are being replaced. Administration explained that if no curriculum is approved for a subject then no text books will be ordered.
However, books will be budgeted. According to one teacher, ”Textbooks are the tools to deliver the curriculum.” If not already done, curriculums should be finalized by the end of the year.
A high school student assembly was held highlighting the web site: www.myspace.com to underscore the need for personal internet safety of students. Some students were giving out too much personal information according to Pennsylvania State Trooper Fozar from Dunmore barracks. An assembly of similar information will be available to parents in early spring.
The Pennsylvania State Senate approved, in special session Bill 30. The House of Representatives is set to vote on this. Chambers views this bill as “ tax shifting from property to income.” It is similar to Act 72. Under great pressure to do something this referendum may be passed. The preliminary state budget will need to be passed by January 26. Before any idea of state revenues are figured the budget is scheduled to be adopted on February 15. According to Chambers, Governor Rendell is likely to sign this bill. There is no chance to opt out as in Act 72. Currently SB 30 excludes Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Scranton.
The Board adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
Two new Board members gave the following brief interviews:
Mr. Nate Tompkins was specially appointed to represent the Gibson area. Tompkins will complete two years of a four year post vacated when a board member resigned. He has no children in the school now but explains his children are two and a half years and eight months old, so they are at home with his wife, Marsha, who attended College Misericordia. He is a civil engineer and a graduate of Lehigh University now working for a real estate development company. Having been born and raised in the district he is now pleased to give back and serve his community.
Mrs. Lucrecia Jesse of Brooklyn area is married and has three children in grades 11, 7 and 4. She is a recent graduate with a teaching degree, background in Spanish and a minor in E.S.L. (English as a Second Language). After the holidays Jesse will send out her resume to other schools. Jesse was elected to a four year term and looks forward to a new challenge.
Francis John Klein III, Beth A. Klein, James Martin Klein, Mary Jo Klein, David F. Klein, Julilanna M. Klein, David F. Klein, Julilanna M. Klein, Thomas D. A. Klein, Christine E. Klein to Robert Mead, Delray Beach, FL, and Nicholas G. Serafinia Jr., in Silver Lake Township for $125,000.
June Barbara Keller, Bradley J . Keller, Brian L. Keller to June Barbara Keller, RR1, Hop Bottom, in Hop Bottom Borough for one dollar.
Leonard J. Zalepa, Ann M. Zalepa (aka) Ann Marie Zalepa to Leonard J. Zalepa and Ann M. Zalepa, RR2, Brackney, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Mildred J. Rabert (estate, aka) Mildred Rabert (estate), Stephen F. Holgash, Christine Holgash, Richard D. Holgash Jr., Tracy L. Holgash, to Richard D. Holgash Jr., Tracy L. Holgash, RR1, Brackney, in Silver Lake Township for $66,000.
Thelma R. Downing to Thomas M. Downing, Mt. Laurel, NJ, and Susan J. Opperman, in Lathrop Township for one dollar.
Richard Graf, Ann Marie Graf to Valeria Kuhar, Harford, in Harford Township for $74,000.
Randy Decker, Louann Decker, Daryl Haynes, Carol Haynes, Darwin Haynes to Elizabeth Pajaczkowski, Levittown, in Thompson Township for $24,900.
Montrose DG Partners to Craig Reimel (tadba), Church St., Montrose, and Jay Reimel (tadba) Lees Furniture Store, in Montrose, for $25,000.
Andrew H. Landis, Cory Landis to Philip Rongo, Lisa Rongo, Port Murray, NJ, in New Milford Township for $125,000.
Montrose DG Partners to John J. Sarapuchiello, Las Vegas, NV, in Montrose for $600,000.
Martin R. Forrest, Bernice L. Forrest to Howard A. Mitchel, Annemarie Mitchell, Newark, DE, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Chad H. Hollenbeck, Shelly A. Hollenbeck to Adam M. Diaz and Julie E. Diaz, Kingsley, in Brooklyn Township for $132,900.
Manzek Land Co. Inc. to Robert F. Harper and Roberta G. Harper, RR1, Laceyville, in Auburn Township for $42,000.
Kathleen A. Quinn (by sheriff) to Federal Nation al Mortgage Association, Philadelphia, in Great Bend Borough for $1,911.
Thomas J. Lopatofsky, Donna M. Fekette to Carlton Whitehead, Helen Whitehead, RR2, New Milford, in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Cynthia J. Rood to Mark E. Gregory, Petrina R. Gregory, RR, Hop Bottom, in Brooklyn Township for $100,000.
Christopher Rockwood, Kelly J. Rockwood to Marcello Bevilacqua, Church Street, Montrose, in Bridgewater Township for $84,800.
Charlotte Plaisted, James Plaisted to Charles Seifert, Priscilla Seifert, Glen Rock, NJ, in Jessup Township for $255,000.
Gary S. Bloom, Patricia L. Bloom to Michael Koneski, Susan Koneski, Meshoppen, in Springville Twp. for $460,000.
Mark E. Gregory, Petrina R. Gregory to Corey M. Cohen, Phyllis Cohen, RR6, Montrose, in Dimock Township for $245,000.
Marie M. Munro, Orvil W. Munro to Maureen B. McAvoy, Binghamton, NY, in Silver Lake Township for $83,000.
Carmen Cosentino Jr., Rosemary Cosentino to Carmen Cosentino Jr. (trust), Rosemary Cosentino (trust), RR1, Susquehanna, in Jackson Twp. for one dollar.
Carmen Cosentino Jr., Rosemary Cosentino to Carmen Cosentino Jr. (trust, Rosemary Cosentino (trust), RR1, Susquehanna, in Jackson Township for one dollar.
Gary S. Bloom, Patricia L. Bloom to Gary S. Bloom, Patricia L. Bloom, Meshoppen, in Springville Twp. for one dollar.
Gary S. Bloom, Patricia L. Bloom to Gary S. Bloom, Patricia L. Bloom, Meshoppen, in Springville Twp. for one dollar.
Darrell L. Whitney, Teresa A. Whitney, Rose Whitney, Brice Whitney to David C. Berg, Stefanie R. Berg, RR1, Susquehanna, in New Milford Twp. for $55,000.
Gerald Peck, Robert Peck to Dale Gaylord, Susan M. Gaylord, RR1, Susquehanna, in Jackson Township for $9,000.
Rosemarie Bedford to Jamie R. Bedford, RR1, Susquehanna, in Ararat Twp. for one dollar.
Lorraine A. Cuevas (nbm) Lorraine A. Jackson, Leonard Jackson to Albert L. Cuevas, Michele Cuevas, Susquehanna, in Susquehanna for $65,000.
Ireno Monteforte, Mary Monteforte to James A. Monteforte, RR2, New Milford, Joseph A. Monteforte Sr., in New Milford Township for one dollar.
Florence A. Jones to Matthew J. Yurkanin, Rebecca Yurkanin, Mesa, AZ, in Lenox Township for $44,500.
Irene Bozzo to James B. Henry, Carlene A. Henry, RR6, Montrose, in Franklin Township for $120,000.
Arthur W. Bolles, Marion Bolles to Thomas Bolles (trust), RR2, Hallstead, in Franklin Township for one dollar.
Christine M. Pelto to Christine M. Pelto, Christopher J. Pelto, Apalachin, NY, in Apolacon Twp. for one dollar.
Angelo Scarfalloto, Jacqueline Scarfalloto, to Elegante Restaurant & Pizzeria, Honesdale, in Forest City for $100,000.
Lois Ann Terrace, Walter R. Poxon, William H. Poxon, Susan Poxon, Howard W. Poxon Jr., Annette Poxon to Poxom Family Trust, Highland, MI, in Harford Township for one dollar.
James E. Gow, Diane E. Gow (estate), Jean P. Gow to Edward Foote, RR7, Montrose, Andrea McGrath Patten, Robert J. McGrath, David McGrath, in Bridgewater Twp. for zero dollars.
Ben Abby LLC -Indian Mountain Inn (aka) Ben Abby LCC -Indian Mountain Inn to Patrick J. Rea, Teresa Stanek Rea, Alexandria, VA, in Silver Lake and Liberty townships for $75,000.
Patrick I. Rea, Teresa Stanek Rea to Dennis Nagy, RR1, Brackney, Geraldine Nagy, Lori Ann Nagy, Rita Nagy, in Silver Lake and Liberty townships for $150,000.
Fernando Barton, Gina Barton to Bryan J. Davis, Rte 2, New Milford, in New Milford Township for $96,500.
Eleanor H. Tompkins to Margaret Germaine Grausgruber, Susquehanna, Karen Armitage, in Oakland Borough for one dollar.
James E. Carlsen to James E. Carlsen, Brenda G. Carlsen, Hallstead, in Hallstead Borough and New Milford Township, for one dollar.
John R. Rucando, Marcella L. Rucando to Michael G. Rucando, Karen M. Rucanso, Monroe, NJ, in Silver Lake Township for one dollar.
Harry L. Davis to Charles G. Davis, RR1, Carbondale, in Clifford Twp. for one dollar.
Harry L. Davis Jr. to Charles G. Davis, RR1, Carbondale, in Clifford Twp. for one dollar.
Francis A. Eberhart to Gregory Tickle, Narberth, in Gibson Township for $148,000.
Glen Locicero, Nancy Locicero to Karl E. Benedikt, Jennie S. Benedikt, Madison, NJ, for $364,000.
Pamela M. Brindstedt to Chad W. Haley, Crissie L. Haley, Susquehanna, in Susquehanna for $64,000.
On the evening of December 19, the Great Bend Township board of supervisors held its last meeting of the year. For George Haskins and Walter Galloway, it was also their last meeting as supervisors.
Many year-end meetings usually have slim agendas, and this one was no exception. Board chair and supervisor Bob Squier went through a most-recent-two-weeks roadmaster’s report that was heavy on putting down anti-skid and plowing as well as preparing and repairing equipment to do both. When crew and trucks weren’t out taking care of recent snowfalls, they were cleaning ditches or grading on Tarzan Road, Colwell Road, Downes Road and Baptist Hill Road.
The township crew and equipment still had yet to plow the parking area in the Visitors Center, though. Squier reported that the township received a contract to do so from PENNDOT, signed it, sent it back and will start to plow the Center when it received the PENNDOT-signed copy, which was expected soon.
Roads were also the subject of several free seminars and/or training that township personnel will be attending, weather permitting. Squier plans to attend a Tunkhannock meeting in a few weeks about posting and bonding of roads. The subject is particularly timely, since the township is looking to have a quarry-owner post a line of credit or a bond for any damage to Graham Hollow Road as a result of the quarrying operation. In addition, township secretary and supervisor-elect Sheila Guinan reported that L-TAP is sponsoring two seminars in the first few months of next year, focusing on unpaved and gravel roads, and on spring road maintenance.
No construction, sewage, subdivision, driveway or other permits were issued, and the only correspondence of note was receipt of the title to the township’s 2003 Ford F-350 pickup and an invoice for 2006 membership in PSATs (Pennsylvania State Association of Townships). Guinan reviewed the invoice and recommended that subscriptions to the organization’s Township News be cut back from four to three, and that the township drop the association’s New Law Service, at an annual fee of $25, because new laws are addressed in Township News. Correspondence also included notification of PSATs annual state convention on April 23-26. Galloway attended this convention in earlier service to the township, found it “well worthwhile” and recommended that both Bob and Guinan attend.
A member of the audience asked whether the CPA who performed the township’s 2004 audit would be hired to do this year’s (he would), and at what fee (which will be discussed at the January 3 organizational meeting, although the CPA hasn’t yet notified the township of any change in fee).
The board continues to follow through on getting a couple of property-owners to clean up their properties. They are awaiting response to a 30-day clean-up notice for a property on New York Avenue, after which the township is prepared to pursue the matter further if no action is taken. A letter will also be sent to a property owner on Route 171, thanking him for putting up a fence on half of the property in question, but failing to fence the other half and, thus, failing to conceal junk cars. It was noted that, if and when the property owner obtains approval to run a used-car lot, the portion of fence behind which cars are for sale could be removed, except where it conceals junk.
As the chair does before the conclusion of every meeting, Squier asked each member of the public (seven of them, for this meeting) if they had any public comment. They did, and all focused on thanks to both George Haskins, who was elected supervisor and served for several years, and Walt Galloway, who was asked to serve for the past two years. They were praised for their accomplishments —which include the Route 11 paving and Graham Hollow Road restoration and the new Township building —and requested to continue to attend meetings. Both expressed pleasure in working on a team that, noted Squier, sometimes disagreed but were united by working towards a common solution.
The next regular meeting of the Great Bend Township board of supervisors will be its organizational meeting. It is scheduled for January 3 at 7 p.m. in the township Building.
Following is the list of names drawn to serve as Petit and Traverse jurors for January, 2006 to appear in the Court of Common Pleas, Susquehanna County Courthouse, main courtroom, Montrose, PA on the ninth day of January, 9:00 a.m.
Apolacon Twp.: Gerald Legg, Mary L. Martin.
Ararat Twp.: Ileana J. Seman.
Auburn Twp.: George Balboa.
Bridgewater Twp.: Daniel S. Warner, Thomas L. Weller.
Clifford Twp.: Debbie Davis, Duane S. Nolan, Gerald J. Pfahl, Sandra J. Seamans, Erin E. Weldon.
Dimock Twp.: Ann Ella Larue, Patrick J. Martin.
Forest City Boro 2W: Robert A. Dovin, Mark S. Smith.
Franklin Twp.: Janet M. Roe.
Gibson Twp.: Leroy Marshall, Susan M. Robinson, Sherry Sparks.
Great Bend Twp.: Francis Hettinger.
Hallstead Boro: Ernest W. Benjamin III, Paul Koehler, Erving C. Ross.
Harford Twp.: Sarah Button, Timothy A. Randall.
Harmony Twp.: Cindy L. Cordner, Margaret Price, Kevin A. Roe.
Herrick Twp.: Stephen J. Majeski.
Jackson Twp.: Margaret Ann Leach.
Lanesboro Boro: Jeffrey Fisk, Tara Pooler.
Lathrop Twp.: Joseph C. Diddick, Joseph Stock.
Lenox Twp.: Robert A. Borove, Gary L. Kilmer, Frances R. Vanbuskirk.
Liberty Twp.: Cynthia Beebe-Jones, Georgia Birtch, Robert J. Butts, David Cunningham, Edna J. Luce.
Montrose Boro 2W: Kimberly Harshaw.
New Milford Boro: Jeffrey P. James.
New Milford Twp.: Susie Aronowitz, Jeanine Dellongo, Edwin Rhoads, Matt Taylor, Elizabeth Jane Whitney.
Oakland Twp.: Jeane M. Roe.
Rush Twp.: Brenda Odell.
Silver Lake Twp.: Thomas P. Castner, Terrance R. Dugan, Francis W. Fruehan, Alexander Harvilchuck, Colleen H. Kane, Daniel M. Mayes, Donald W. Terry.
Springville Twp.: Danielle Kinder, Florence A. Trowbridge, Doris R. Ward.
Susquehanna Boro 1W: John Butts, John A. Hendrickson, Ronald V. Testa, Eva J. Whitehead.
Susquehanna Boro 2W: Pamela Brindstedt, Susan Mortenson.
Thompson Boro: Jay C. Ralston.
Thompson Twp.: Mary Bieloski, Richard Brinton.
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