18 pass test for Shamokin cop slots
SHAMOKIN - Eighteen people passed a civil service exam toward becoming a city police officer.
Three vacancies exist due to retirements over the years, but it's unclear how many of the vacancies will be filled.
"I'm not sure. That's up to council," police Chief Ed Griffiths said after Wednesday's city council workshop session.
He said all 18 applicants will be put through a physical agility test and will also be interviewed.
"Everybody passed so we have to interview them all," he said after the workshop session.
The Shamokin Police Department currently has 11 full-time officers including the chief, as well as two "special officers."
Fire company merger
Also during the workshop, Councilman R. Craig Rhoades said a merger of Liberty Fire Co. and Rescue Fire Co. continues on "a trial basis."
Councilman William Milbrand asked what would happen to Liberty's current quarters on Sunbury Street if the merger became permanent. He said the building is owned by the city and believed it would become the city's responsibility. Rhoades agreed.
In other business
Milbrand said more discussion is needed on two topics under consideration by city council: a $2.8 million loan for a restoration project at the American Legion Building in the downtown, and a rail crossing project on Market Street.
Councilman William Strausser said some "soul searching" is needed on the Legion building project. Also needed is more information, apparently. Strausser, Rhoades and Councilman Michael Snyder all said they are waiting on paperwork from lending institutions regarding the loan. City Clerk Steve Bartos said that information would be available next week at the earliest.
U.S. Department of Agriculture has accepted an application from the city for a $2.8 million loan. Terms are 40 years at 3.5 percent interest with $5.3 million repaid, according to USDA.
It would be funded through a lender and guaranteed by USDA. While the loan application has been accepted, city council has not yet voted on whether or not to take on the debt.
The funding would be used on a full-scale remodel of the aging Legion building, including a new roof, restoration of the facade and interior marble work and the addition of an elevator and other handicap retrofitting.
The city's recreation tax would be used to make the biannual loan payments of $66,741, totaling $133,482 annually. The tax is currently set at 7.208 mills, which would generate an estimated $172,992 annually if neither the tax rate nor the collection rate were to change. That tax is also used to operate the city pool and playgrounds.
Bartos has said USDA reviewed city finances and its offer is proof that the federal agency is satisfied with the city's ability to repay the debt. There is also a 0.75 mill library tax used for utilities and such which generates an estimated $18,000. That, too, was considered by USDA in its review, Bartos said.
As to the rail crossing, the city had already voted in favor of pursuing eminent domain of Sterling Tattoo at 515 N. Market St., which Milbrand voted against.
It is a coordinated effort along with SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority to install an upgraded rail crossing near Market and Water streets, specifically at the exit of a city-owned parking lot.
A final vote on the matter is scheduled for Monday, but Solicitor H. Robert Mattis said if councilmen's questions on the matter aren't answered by then it could be postponed.
Milbrand says no city money should be expended on the project.
Strausser asked Bartos to contact the parties involved and have alternatives put in writing.
City council workshop sessions are held at 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month and are open to the public. They're held to discuss issues prior to the monthly voting sessions, also public, held at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. Both meetings are held in City Hall at 47 E. Lincoln St.