LOGANTON - The Sugar Valley Volunteer Fire Co. responded to and fought a structure fire in neighboring Crawford Township earlier this year.
Loganton Borough will now bill the township $7,930 for the firefighters' efforts.
Speaking at council's meeting Thursday night, members said they hope the bill will be an eye-opener to the Crawford supervisors, who reportedly opted out of having a written agreement with Loganton for fire responses.
Dennis E. Long, right, was elected Loganton Borough Council president at Thursday’s council meeting, replacing Wayne Koch, who has resigned after his appointment to the Keystone Central School Board. Myron G. Seyler, left, was elected to replace Long as vice president.
WENDY STIVER/THE EXPRESS
Tom Ruhl Jr., fire company president, gave Borough Council a report on municipal funding that showed the cost of workers' compensation has more than doubled since the current municipal agreement was signed nearly 13 years ago.
On Jan. 1, 1997, the borough agreed to put two mills' worth of real estate taxes, $6,075, toward the fire company annually. Logan Township agreed to a flat fee of $9,000 and Greene Township to the flat fee of $19,000.
Workers' compensation in 1997 cost $3,296, Ruhl reported, leaving $30,779 in municipal support. The borough arranges the workers' compensation.
The fire company is receiving the same amounts this year from the three municipalities, he said, but workers' compensation has risen to $6,920, leaving only $27,155.
Greene is giving the most funding because it includes 44 percent of the population in the three municipalities. Logan's population represents 36 percent, and the borough's only 20 percent.
Councilman Myron G. Seyler, who is also fire chief, said relatively new legislation means the borough is no longer solely responsible for the cost of the firefighters' workers' compensation. This cost can now be divided up among the participating municipalities, should the borough wish it, he said.
He also urged council to call a meeting to discuss a new agreement. That session with representatives from all four municipalities - including Crawford Township - has been set for Thursday, Sept. 10.
"The townships had better not balk too much," Mayor David P. Shreckengast said. "We haven't asked them for anything (new) in 12 years."
Ruhl also presented a list of federal grants the fire company has taken advantage of since it bought an International-model, 3,000-gallon tanker in 2003 for $208,000. The grants, for new hose, turn-out gear, a thermal imaging camera and a new Jaws of Life, totalled $286,847.
The volunteer company had to come up with $59,223 in local matching funds to help finance the projects in the past six years, worth a total of nearly $347,000.
The next planned project is the purchase and installation of a washer and dryer system for the fire station so that turn-out gear doesn't have to be sent out to be cleaned, Ruhl said. The project is expected to run $13,000.
Dennis E. Long was elected president of Loganton Council at Thursday night's meeting. He replaces Wayne Koch, who resigned his council seat once he was appointed to Keystone Central School Board.
Long was previously council vice president, and Seyler was elected to that office.
Koch's vacant seat will be filled by Judy Karstetter. The two candidates for the seat were to be nominated one at a time, but once Karstetter was nominated and that nomination was approved with no "nay" votes, there was no reason for the other candidate, Leroy Rossman, to be nominated.
Council was not required to fill the vacancy with a candidate from the same party as Koch, but he, Karstetter and Rossman are all reportedly Democrats.
Karstetter has a health issue at this time, but expects to be at the September meeting.
She will fill Koch's term until it expires on Dec. 30, 2011.
Council approved the idea of applying for a federal grant to save energy running the water wells, as long as no local matching funds are needed.
Alan Uhler, a representative of Uhler and Associates, a civil and environmental engineering and surveying company based in Bellefonte, said the grant - part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act- would fund the purchase and installation of solar panels to help run the wells. The panels would save more than the required 25 percent in energy use, he said.
The 10-feet by 15-feet panels would be mounted on one or more steel poles and attached to motors, he said, or they could be connected directly to the utility power grid to reduce the borough's power bill.
The proposed motors would require a shed and a battery back-up system, he said.
The project could cost $30,000 although he said that is just a ballpark figure.
Long asked if wind turbines had been considered. Uhler replied they had, but solar panels are considered superior because they have no moving parts and they can reap energy even on a cloudy day while turbines need wind to work.
The site of the proposed solar panels is prone to lightning strikes, he noted, and that should be considered.
The grant deadline is Aug. 14 and Uhler said the application can be completed in time. He normally does not bill for applications if he believes they will result in other work for the firm, but in this case, he said, he will give the borough a reduced bill of $200 to $300 or so.
A hydrogeologist from Converse Consultants is studying the borough's water system, at a cost not to exceed $1,500, council heard. The study should reveal how the sale of an adjacent property could impact the system.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring municipalities with "Tier 1" water emergencies to notify all customers within one hour of the incident, Uhler said. For many, this means contracting with a firm that can use computers to phone all customers and play a recorded message.
Uhler advised against this expense, which he estimated at $800 per year or more. Instead, he said, he can tell DEP the borough is small enough that a fire truck with a loudspeaker could drive through the affected area at several different times of day and effectively reach all customers. Sugar Valley also has a rolling news screen as part of its television service and the message could appear there, as well.
A Tier 1 emergency would be "if we have something catastrophic happen and we think contamination may be getting in the water," he said. "It's a situation you won't have to be in more than once every couple of years, at most."