When: Columbia Borough Council meeting, Jan. 3.
What happened: Council members verbally agreed to eliminate controversial private information sessions before each of council’s two monthly voting meetings.
More info: Members previously met for 30-minute sessions behind the closed doors of Borough Manager Mark Stivers’s office, an agreement reached during the reorganization meeting in 2020. Previously, council met for 60-minute private sessions. Those meetings drew complaints about Sunshine Law violations. Council members may not discuss any voting matter or any subject that will be discussed at a public meeting.
Discussion: “I don’t like the optics of meeting in Mark’s office and walking out as a group,” Zink told council members. Instead, members will try to arrive about 10 minutes early in case they have questions for the borough manager or solicitor. “You guys are the only one of the cities I represent that do this,” Evan Gabel, borough solicitor, told council members before they agreed to suspend the private sessions. Zink noted that council members may still call for a private meeting to discuss a personnel or other private issue.
Reorganization results: Council President Heather Zink received a unanimous vote for a second two-year term as president. She serves on council until Dec. 31, 2023. Members then voted 5-2 to elect Eric Kauffman as vice president, replacing Sharon Lintner. Kauffman and Lintner also end their terms in December 2023. Todd Burgard won reelection as president pro-tempore and serves on council until December 2025. Barbara Fisher joined council, replacing Fran FitzGerald, who did not run for reelection. Fisher also will serve until 2025.
Tax collector: Doris Weisser stepped up to be Columbia’s tax collector after the person elected resigned the job. Her appointment means that residents may continue to pay city and real estate taxes at the borough office.
Posts renewed: Council members also reappointed its staff, including Stivers as borough manager, Gabel as solicitor, and police Chief Jack Brommer as an alternate for the open records position.
What’s next: Council will meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 11, and the meeting will be streamed on the borough’s Facebook page.