Newcomer Barr sworn in at boro

By on January 8, 2014

Ephrata Borough council swore in four members Monday night at the town’s biennial reorganization meeting.

Susan Rowe, Tom Reinhold and Vic Richard were sworn in for an additional term on council, and newcomer Tim Barr was sworn into his first term.

Barr, a Democrat, graduated from Ephrata High School in 1975 and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He’s a six-year U.S. Navy Veteran and was employed by PennDOT as an equipment operator for 16 years.

“While on council, I’d like to see Ephrata move towards greater energy efficiency,” said Barr. “If you can control the cost of government operations and services, you can attempt to control taxes and rates.”

Councilman Dale Hertzog will remain Ephrata Borough Council president for another term and Ralph Mown was sworn in by District Justice Tony Russell for his sixth term.

Ephrata’s council now consists of seven Republicans and one Democrat.

Only one item was on Monday’s agenda and it was brought forth by the Personnel Committee chairperson Susan Rowe. The committee recommended that council approve an increase in the staffing allocation for electric linemen in the 2014 budget and program of services from five to six linemen.

“We were led to believe that linemen are few and far between to find,” said Bob Thompson, borough manager. “The good news is that we found two candidates that have the same qualifications of and certification of the ones that have resigned. We believe it’s in the best interest of the organization in our electric utility operation to maintain a sufficient number of qualified linemen, and as a result, we’re for the increase of the staffing level in preparation for subsequent retirements in future years that will bring us back up to six as we were two years ago.”

“So it’s not above and beyond what we have had,” Thompson continued. “With possible retirements, there may be a shortage of lineman; we are recommending increasing that so we can hire two at this time. From a dollar figure, it’s about $77, 000.”

Since 2012, the balance in the electric fund has gone from $3.6 to over $5 million. Last year the revenues were $18 million and expenditures were $17 million.

“The impact of the electric fund should be fairly nominal. We have a healthy reserve in the electric fund so I think this is the appropriate thing to do to maintain the quality of response,” said Thompson. “One of the things we do have over our neighbors is that our residents are generally not out of service for very long and that’s a tribute to the linemen.”

The meeting’s closing statements were sparse.

“I think we have a good working council, so I look forward to the coming year,” said councilman Anthony Kilkuskie. “The things I’m looking forward for council to do are the trail from Sycamore Road up to the 272 bridge where the former railroad tracks were. Regarding the municipal enterprises, it will be receiving a study this year regarding our billing processes &tstr;that’s going to be revised so maybe this year we’ll have the opportunity to have more equitable billing. We’re looking forward to continue to support the community in economic health.”

Police Chief William L. Harvey reminded to look out for neighbors, shut-ins and pets this time of year. He added to clear snow around hydrants to help the fire fighters as well.

Borough Council encourages all residents to attend its meetings. Council meets for its working session on the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. and the same time for its voting session on the second Monday. All meetings are held at borough hall, 124 South State Street. Time is allotted for local residents to ask questions and give feedback.

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