Reynoldsville Borough Council meets in a heated regular session, adopts camera policy and procedures

Reynoldsville Borough Council met in regular session on April 20 with all council members present. A lot of what took place came about because of public comments.

The first to comment was Borough Tax Collector Susan Burkett who asked council to amend its recent action to approve all exoneration requests except for those on unemployment. Council decided to postpone action on those six requests until October. Burkett said she felt those who have applied should be approved.

“Every person on that list is waiting for social security or disability,” she said. “I would rather exonerate them now.”

Former Reynoldsville Borough Tax Collector Christy McGranor, who advised council at the April work session to postpone the unemployment requests until October, continued with that advice.

“You’re totally going to open up a can of worms [if the requests are granted],” she told council.

After some discussion, Council President William Cebulskie asked for a motion to approve the exoneration requests. No motion was made.

“I guess we’ll have to look at it in October then,” Cebulskie said.

LeeAnne Toombs

In her comments to the council, LeeAnne Toombs said that while she ran for council, she heard from some residents who questioned how the council was being run by Council President Cebulskie. One specific item she brought up was the situation with Borough Police Officer Tammy Murray and her reinstatement. She alleged Cebulskie had a “vengeance” against Officer Murray. She also asked about the back pay owed to Officer Murray and how much interest was being accrued, stating to her knowledge it was 6% a day.

“The borough is raking up a very large sum to paid back to Tammy,” she said. She later added, “All this is coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket.”

Borough Solicitor Joe Ryan said that because the union and the labor attorney representing the borough are still negotiating, they couldn’t comment on the matter.

“Until everything is finalized, there’s not any comment we would make on that,” he said.

Toombs pressed the council on whether or not it dropped the appeal to the State Labor Department’s ruling reinstating Officer Murray. She said it was reported in the “paper” that it was dropped. (Editor’s note: read the story concerning council’s action posted here. Toombs’ complete comments and the council’s reaction can be seen on the Reynlow Community News Facebook page.)

Later in the meeting, Officer Murray asked council for help in obtaining the hardware necessary to run the software needed to assist with traffic stops and citations. Council President Cebulskie said the matter would be reviewed in light of the current budget situation. It was mentioned by Borough Secretary Jacqueline Dixon that the borough is more than $16,000 behind in tax collections compared to this time period last year.

After the comments, the council moved on to the agenda items.

Car Show

Mayor Mark August

At the work session earlier this month, Mayor Mark August asked council to consider allowing the Homecoming Committee to host a car show at the borough park during the Red, White, and Blueberry Festival July 16. At this meeting, the council approved the request.

The monies raised from this event will be put toward restarting the Homecoming Festival, hopefully in 2023.

Camera System policy and procedures

Another item that caused some friction at the meeting was the revised camera system policy and procedures. Mayor August had proposed a policy. He said he talked with someone from the Mayor’s Association about the issue and he was told that “there’s no reason that council should interfere with any policy that I write.”

The council requested a Pittsburgh firm look it the Mayor’s plan and come up with a policy that protected all parties involved, including the borough.

Solicitor Joe Ryan commented, “The council’s position would be that the camera system was borough council property, that the police department is an entity of the borough …if there were any civil actions related to the system or the policy, it would the borough that would be on the hook. such they (the Pittsburgh firm) wrote the policy that’s being suggested.”

The friction stemmed from who had access to the video. Cebulskie said since the borough only had one police officer, at the recommendation of the Pittsburgh firm, the policy should have two people, the Mayor and a member of council, who had the keys to allow Officer Murray’s access to the video and to keep a record of when that access took place.

The matter was referred to the police committee for further review, but it was brought up again after a lengthy executive session that took place at the end of the agenda items.

When the council returned, Council Member Ralph August made the motion to accept the policy submitted by the Pittsburgh firm. Mike Popson seconded, and the motion was approved. Officer Murray asked for a roll call vote, but there had been no opposition to the motion so none was needed.

Other items

Council Member Ralph August said a list had been drawn up for street paving this summer, but it’s tentative since the borough is struggling with budget issues. The council also approved a motion to build a lean-to for the borough crew, but again, that was if the budget permitted the construction.

Just before the executive session, Councilman August made a statement concerning the Reynoldsville Pool.

“We’ve been going to the pool meeting, and the lady that was the treasurer there, Darlene Uplinger, resigned. And I just want to make it known that I’ve seen the audit, and so did Bill (Cebulskie), and there was nothing found in that audit.”

August said he wanted to dispel rumors of any wrongdoing.

“She should be commended for the job she did,” he said.

Cebulskie also praised the pool committee.

“The pool committee has taken everything by the horns here and is doing a great job,” he said.

Phase One pool repairs began earlier this spring. The pool is expected to open on time.

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