Slippery Rock council members on Tuesday addressed a number of issues to ensure borough services and related items are in place before the new year.
After Dave Taggart finished his monthly report on the Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Team, council Vice President Ron Steele noted Taggart is retiring as the department's chief; his son Ken Taggart will take over Jan. 1.
Steele, a fellow firefighter, thanked Taggart for his service. He's been chief for the last 15 years and joined the department in 1974. The younger Taggart is the assistant chief.
Later in the meeting, council discussed the agenda item concerning the reappointment of the borough solicitor, the law firm of Cafardi, Ferguson, Wyrick, Weis and Stanger LLC for a one-year term ending Dec. 31, 2015.
The Wexford firm is the borough's current solicitor, and council member Itzi Meztli questioned the reappointment.
"Why is this item on the agenda? What about the bid process?" he asked.
Council members on Nov. 4 voted to seek bids for a solicitor, he said, adding he has not seen the submissions.
Council needs a thorough discussion to avoid a potential lawsuit from another law firm because the proper bidding process wasn't followed, Meztli said.
Only one proposal was submitted - from the Wexford firm - by the Nov. 28 deadline and council previously decided they could change the solicitor any time during the year, said Lucinda Lipko, borough administrator.
Meztli said he was just concerned about the bidding process. Solicitor John Trant reminded council it was a solicitation for applicants, or request for proposals, and not a bidding process, which must follow set regulations.
Council needs an attorney in place before Jan. 1, Steele said, noting none of the council members knew about the lone proposal until Tuesday night's meeting.
The measure to reappoint the firm passed 5 to 1 with Meztli voting against it. Councilor Bob Bowser was absent.
The next debate focused on Lipko's salary for 2015, to be set at $48,100, up from $46,400. Meztli suggested his idea from recent budget talks that the position should be eliminated and a borough manager should be hired, "someone with a college degree that has run a borough."
Council member Regina Greenwald, who helped set Lipko's salary, said she believes Lipko is underpaid because her numerous duties are more comparable to being a manager than an administrator. She works many hours as a salaried employee and is often the only one handling things at the borough office during the day, Greenwald said.
Visit the borough office on any given day and you'll see how busy Lipko is, council member Christy Tichy said.
Hiring a borough manager is a lengthy process that involves changing the borough code to include the new leadership, Trant said.
A qualified borough manager's salary would be at least $75,000 to $80,000, and research is the next step, Greenwald said, referring to the fact that the idea has been discussed in the past.
Any borough manager would still need at least one clerical assistant to help run the office, council member Ken Harris said.
Then the borough should cut back on the solicitor's annual pay, Meztli said. Council on Nov. 18 agreed to decrease the solicitor's expenses from $45,000 to $35,000 a year.
The motion to approve Lipko's salary of $48,100 passed 5 to 1 with Meztli dissenting.
Council then hashed out some details regarding a retaining wall on South Main Street that needs repaired. The agenda item called for council to approve a $10,126 quote from Unique Stone Construction Inc., but there was some confusion over who's paying since Slippery Rock Development lined up the repair work.
SRD's assets, including the wall, were transferred to the borough after the downtown revitalization project about 11 years ago, said Bill Sonntag, president of SRD.
Also, a tree in the wall well is going to be removed because it grew bigger than expected and affected the wall, he said, adding the person who owns the property where the tree sits gave them permission for the
Council voted 5 to 1 with Harris dissenting to table the contract. They plan to have the repair work proposal rewritten in the borough's name rather than SRD.
They're expected to vote Dec. 16 on agreeing to pay for the work and manage the contract, as well as adopt the final version of the 2015 budget.
Published Dec. 6, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.