Yesterday held Ellwood City’s monthly regular meeting. All of the agendas were passed at this meeting, to view all agenda items click here.
There was an exceptionally large number of visitors at the meeting last night, so large that the council meeting had to be moved into the municipal building’s auditorium in order to accommodate all of the visitors. Among the visitors was Aaron Bernstine, a local who is currently running for state representative.
Tensions were high and over a dozen visitors publicly spoke in front of council in order to express their feelings about ongoing issues and the upcoming proposals, mainly centered around the 12 million dollar bond that council was voting to pass or deny at the meeting.
Many visitors asked council about the 12 million dollar bond, questioning if the community can actually afford the bond to make what many believe are “unnecessary” improvements.
The bond was proposed for the Borough to make overall improvements to the town, mainly for efficiency and cosmetic appeal. The bond will be funding the demolition and rebuild of a the public works and electric facilities, the purchase of a new fire truck, the Borough’s match for a multi-modal grant and the installation and maintenance of streets and infrastructures.
A local real estate agent, among several others, believe that building new facilities is unnecessary when there are “many unused but fully functional” vacant buildings throughout the town.
Several of the visitors didn’t disagree completely with the bond proposal, many of them just asked the council to consider tabling the bond to allow for further discussion and contemplation in order to make sure the bond was in the best interest of those affected by it.
Connie MacDonald, the council president, explained last night that now is the time to accept a bond “because interest rates are favorable”. A few weeks earlier at a September council meeting, MacDonald mentioned that he did not expect taxes to go up significantly for Ellwood City residents, giving the example that on a $50,000 house the property taxes would go up an estimated $50 dollars a year.
Council chose not to table the issue, however, two council members, Judy Dici and Marylin Mancini disagreed with the proposal, saying that they would only vote in favor of the bond for a lesser amount.
Dici wanted to put her views of the bond into perspective, “If I want to make improvements to my house, and take a vacation, and buy a car, I prioritize which one of those I need first. I don’t see the need to do all of this at one time- prioritize, pick what needs done most quickly, and then when you start to recoup and recover, go to the next issue.”
There was a large applaud for Dici’s comment.
MacDonald also gave his opinion about the bond, “I too live in this community, my wife and I have invested in this community by building our home here, and we too are affect by the taxes and utilities. The comments I get about these improvements are that it’s something that should’ve happened years ago; the public works garage is falling down and is a disgrace, we need to take the lead as community leaders and show that we are progressing as a community and not operating out of decrepit buildings. The fire truck we are replacing is 30 years old… We, as council, have to show that we are in favor of moving forward, we have to think about the future and I think the improvements will make this community a better place.”
There was a roll call vote, Mancini and Dici voted no, the other five council members voted yes. The bond was passed and the majority of visitors left shortly after due to feeling as though their questions, concerns, and comments remained unheard.