By Peter Becker
HAWLEY - In lieu of raising property taxes, Hawley Council is weighing the option of enacting an earned income tax.
Council discussed the topic at the May 8th Council meeting.
Councilman Joseph Faubel, who chairs the Finance Committee, said that 93 percent of Pennsylvania municipalities use an earned income tax.
Mary Sanders, Council Vice-President, asked to see if an earned income tax would raise or lower the amount residents pay. The earned income tax would not eliminate the property tax, but would be meant to give an alternative to raising property taxes paid by all the property owners.
Faubel said he did not like adding an additional burden to employers who would need to garnish wages, but said it was a more fair distribution of the tax burden. Those who work would pay the tax.
Sanders, who is employed in another locality that imposes the earned income tax, said she would rather see her tax money come back to the Borough.
Most municipalities set the tax at one percent; Faubel has found some that use a half percent. The tax can be as low as a quarter percent.
Further details of how the taxing system would apply will be investigated. Faubel said he will be doing more research.
• The Hawley Memorial Weekend Parade is on schedule, Sunday, May 26 starting at 1 p.m. Lineup is at 12 noon on both Park Place and Columbus Avenue.
The parade follows an American Legion ceremony held at the Veteran's Monument on Park Place next to the Senior Center, by Bingham Park (gather at about 12:30 p.m.). The parade heads down Main Avenue and down Church Street where there is a wreath dropped from the Eddy Bridge. The parade then goes up Hudson Street and concludes at the park.
• Deputy Fire Chief Eugene Krause and his wife Wendy, also a firefighter, canvassed the Borough in one weekend, noting homes and businesses lacking street address numbers. He said that 95 locations were not displaying numbers, which are important aids for emergency response. He is seeking mailing addresses to contact them; 22 letters have gone out. He plans to return and in late May/early June to see how many have complied and posted numbers.
• Mike Rizzi asked for an update on dealing with the problem of feral cats. Councilwoman Elaine Herzog noted that there is an agency in Bartonsville, PA, the Eastern PA Animal Alliance, that has a mobile cat spay/neuter clinic. Visit epaaonline.com or call (570)994-5846 for more information.
• Proposed changes to the Hawley Zoning Ordinance will be reviewed at a public hearing Tuesday, June 4 at 6:30 p.m., at Borough Hall. The Planning Commission meeting follows. The final draft of the zoning changes will be posted online at www.hawleyborough.org.
• Council agreed to send a letter to the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) opposing their proposed on-lot septic system policy. It would restrict construction and require costly measures to keep nitrates from the water. The policy is viewed as unnecessary in the Wayne/Pike region where water is of high quality, and highly detrimental to the local economy.
• Planning Commission asked more time and more input from Council regarding proposed off-premise signs, before making any recommendations.
• Councilman John Robertson, who chairs the Streets & Roads Committee, asked that residents contact him directly with any concerns or questions.
• Hawley residents are also invited to attend the Borough Planning Commission meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., where the public can receive recommendations and suggestions.
• Mayor Kevin Hawk participated in an exercise hosted by PPL to go over emergency procedures should the Wallenpaupack dam ever fail. As part of the drill, Hawley Fire Department on May 1st practiced closing the flood gate at the Eddy Bridge and on the tracks off Paupack Street. Hawley said the gate drill went very well. "We can sleep comfortably in Hawley if we had a major incident," Hawk said.
• The Mayor performed four weddings in April.
• Solicitor Robert Bernathy and Police Officer Aaron Bertholf served an injunction notice at 406 Hudson Street, requiring the residents to vacate. Bernathy said that a violation notice was sent on April 18 due to untreated sewage being dumped on the ground and the water service being cut off for a year due to lack of payment. An injunction was granted by the Wayne County Court. Bernathy said that the residents have vacated the premises, and it must remain vacated until the issues are addressed.
• Morristown & Erie Railroad Company has requested Hawley Police to stop any persons using personal, motorized railroad cars on the tracks at Hawley. Although railroad traffic is currently suspended, the company is seeking enforcement of illegal trespass on the tracks.
• Council approved ordering new street name signs to replace ones that are missing. The same maroon color scheme will be used but to meet new state standards, the lettering will be both upper and lower case. About a dozen signs are needed, said Robertson.
• Bids will be sought to repaint 34 crosswalks and seven stop bars on the streets.
• Delinquent sewer accounts totaled $59,233.95 as of April 25, down from $61,417.74 on March 28. The Hawley Area Authority sewer plant was reported to be functioning efficiently, Robertson related.
Matters concerning the bridge project, water mains and parking meters were reported separately.
Hawley Council meets on the second Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Borough Hall. The office may be reached at 226-9545.