CLEARFIELD – During public comment at the Lawrence Township Supervisors’ meeting, Gigi Gearheart addressed the supervisors and asked if Supervisor Randy Powell had been able to get answers to any of his questions concerning the proposed consolidation with Clearfield Borough.
Powell said he had not, adding he had contacted Brian Lytle, one of the co-chairmen, and others and Lytle has not returned his calls or gotten back to him.
Gearhart stated that while some things cannot be addressed at this time, she agreed the committee has a responsibility to do some additional education of the public. She then asked why the supervisors were keeping the people from choosing.
Powell stated she is correct about the need for additional information and said he is afraid that if the consolidation occurs there could be outlandish costs to the new municipality.
He said he disagrees with some of the things that took place and won’t have any part of it.
“I’m not going to go into this blind,” he said, noting that the borough has indicated they are considering selling buildings on Powell Avenue and have changed organization of the police.
Gearheart offered to take notes on some of the questions he has and to try to get answers, including questions about buildings and the finances of Clearfield Borough’s fire company.
Additionally, Solicitor James Naddeo noted that if the borough is considering selling buildings, the sale of borough property would need to be advertised and that has not occurred yet.
Powell noted he has not seen anywhere where the township is in the red financially. Secretary Barbara Shaffner noted that the township had to go to the court for additional tax millage, and she is required to note that in every financial report, which may be why the township was red flagged by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
Naddeo added that the red flag was also due to the township being at the millage limit and if money from Act 13 continues to decline the township will be in a very serious financial crisis.
He pointed out that the financial problem is not unique to Clearfield but is being felt all over rural Pennsylvania. He said there is little room left with court approved millage and the township can’t print its own money.
He said in theory consolidation would eventually reduce costs.
Powell said he has asked for answers to his questions and not received them. “I don’t have a problem with putting it on the ballot,” he said.
Naddeo suggested that the consolidation committee needs to meet with the supervisors and address the concerns.
Gearhart also addressed Supervisor Dan Mitchell, noting he has been quiet through the meetings and asked if he had anything to say or any concerns.
Mitchell replied that he was concerned but didn’t have anything to say at this time. Gearheart asked about the reported police pension fund deficit and Shaffner said she has been working on a plan to present to the supervisors in the near future.
During the Feb. 7 meeting of the supervisors, held at Florian Hall on Mill Road, the supervisors took public comment for a time before voting on whether to send the question of consolidation to the voters, and the motion made by Supervisor Bill Lawhead died for lack of a second.
At the Clearfield Borough meeting Jan. 19, the borough council voted to put the issue on the May ballot. Now that the township has delayed the vote, the matter will have to be revisited by both municipal governments and possibly be put on the November ballot.