Dr. Itzi Meztli, associate English professor at Slippery Rock University, is running for borough council in the May 16 primary election. Meztli formerly served as a council member when he was appointed in 2011 for six months and then later elected for a four-year term from 2012-2016. Meztli, 65, is campaigning on the following issues:
• Stop borough council from asking the USDA to guarantee a $732,819 loan to construct at least 40 additional parking spaces after demolishing the old First National Bank building downtown. Since council paid $250,000 for it with a prior NexTier loan, the proposed parking-lot expansion would cost up to an additional $482,819—money that the borough cannot afford to borrow. Boro council had to raise local taxes by 2.5 mills for 2017 to start paying off the $2500@month NexTier loan, so embarking on new debt will unnecessarily strain the boro’s current finances.
I am also against installing parking meters in the downtown district—which currently has free parking. If the USDA approves the borough’s loan request, the application specifically stated that the borough would have to institute paid parking to help pay for the loan. Thus, parking meters will only discourage shoppers from visiting our downtown.
Furthermore, I favor “open and transparent,” local government: All council meetings’ agendas and minutes should be posted expeditiously on the borough’s website for public review. Residents should also be encouraged to attend and participate at council meetings by allowing 3-5 minutes each to give input to council members.
However, I am against allowing borough council to direct the borough solicitor to place liens (charging $200/hour) on vacant residences which must pay for garbage trash collection fees even though utilities have been disconnected, all because the borough’s ill-conceived trash contract with Tri-County Industries, Inc. allows it. Since we pay the garbage company to bill and collect trash fees from customers, then Tri-County should be the one placing the liens—not the borough. By the way, when I was still in council in 2015, I voted against the current trash contract of almost a million dollars, as it was very bad for our residents.
Moreover, I favor a change in borough administration: We should consider hiring a professional borough manager—one who can apply for grant monies as well as having the college-educational expertise needed to run efficiently our borough administration. Phone calls to the borough’s office should be answered with courtesy and professionalism, and relevant information should not be kept from council members in making decisions and setting policy.
Finally, I want to encourage new sources of real estate, tax revenues rather than just continuing to tax, to death, existing, residential and business properties.