East Petersburg, fire company spar over bills
nBorough says it won't reimburse fire company from fire tax fund until solictors agree on allowable expenses. BY JEREMY CARLES, Correspondent
East Petersburg Borough is refusing to reimburse the borough fire company until solicitors for both sides agree on what expenses should be paid from a fire tax fund, according to a written statement read at a council meeting Tuesday.
Residents and fire company members sat quietly as Cathleen Panus, council president, read the minute-long statement and immediately adjourned the meeting without comment or questions.
"Until the borough has clarity on this legal issue," the statement said, "the borough is not in the position to pay bills submitted by the fire company for certain expense items."
Glenn Garber, the fire company president, called the statement "shocking."
"With no room for discussion, it's pretty much in your face," Garber said. "It's disappointing."
He added that the fire company currently has just over $200 in its checking account.
Earlier in the meeting, a member of the audience asked about invoice payments for the fire company. Panus said she would be reading a statement regarding reimbursements during the announcements at the end of the meeting.
Robin Hemperly, borough manager, said after the meeting that council members are not permitted to speak about the matter because of ongoing legal proceedings. She said the solicitors were in the process of determining what qualifies as an eligible expense that can be reimbursed from the borough's fire tax fund.
"The borough council hopes that these discussions will reach a mutually acceptable conclusion in the very near future," the statement said.
Hemperly said she expects the issue to be resolved by the end of March.
Garber said the solicitors have been talking for about two weeks, adding that the borough and the Fire Company have had a good relationship in the past.
East Petersburg Fire Company is supported largely by a fire tax it receives from the borough. Garber said the Fire Company annually receives around $172,000 from the fire tax and, in turn, is not permitted to solicit within the borough.
Garber, who said invoices for January totaled around $12,000, said council has not been specific about which expenses they had an issue even though each expense in the fire company budget has its own line item.
"It doesn't feel good at all," he said. "We've had 13 years of history in all this and we've never had any issue. I guess actions speak louder than words."
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