Voters to decide on fire tax rate in Tower City

By Rob Wheary, Staff

TOWER CITY – Borough council will direct its solicitor to put the question of a three-mill tax increase on the ballot. When it will appear is another question.
At council’s meeting Monday evening, the board unanimously voted to direct the borough’s solicitor, Richard Thornburg, to begin petitioning the Schuylkill County Board of Elections to have a question put on the ballot, hopefully for the fall.
Last month, council member and volunteer firefighter Marcus Riddell reported on the financial condition of the fire company and how they are working with old equipment. Riddell said Monday that the firefighters would be happy with a 2-mill increase.
“Two mills would generate approximately $20,000, that would give the fire company $10,000 to help pay their bills and $10,000 to put away to save for future purchases,” Riddell said. Thornburg told council the minimum tax increase eligible to be on the ballot is three mills, so that is what will be asked for. Mayor Dan Daub questioned on whether a municipal ballot question can be put on during a presidential election year, and Thornburg said he would research the matter. Council president Bruce Schneck cautioned the firefighters to inform the public about the increase.
“After it appeared in the newspaper, there was a lot of talk around town about why the fire company needs a tax increase,” Schneck said. He advised Riddell to have the fire company hold public meetings to plead their case to the public for the increase, and offered the borough hall meeting room to hold them at a later date.
Riddell said the cost to property owners will be minimal.
“The way we figured, it comes out to a 36-cent-a-day increase,” he said.
Work underway on pool
In her recreation report, Yvonne Adams said that work is underway on the Porter-Tower Recreational Swimming Pool with the manager hiring lifeguards and stand helpers. She noted that other improvements will soon be starting.
“They are looking to purchase new lifeguard chairs,” Adams said. “The old ones are out of date and too high. The lifeguards cannot jump out of them into the pool if they need to in an emergency.”
Smith also reported that the inside of the pool will soon be painted and council unanimously approved to purchase half the paint for the pool, not to exceed a cost of $1,500. Borough workers will also help paint the floor of the bathroom with the same paint to reduce slippery conditions.
A discussion was held about Tower City Borough doing more to help improve conditions at the pool.
“We really haven’t held up our end of the partnership,” Schneck said. “I would love to see us improve that.”
Citizen Matt Wolmer reported the annual borough yard sale was a great success with 50 houses participating and local businesses reaping the benefits of the crowd.
“We had people coming in from all over, with each house making about $200 to $500 each,” Wolmer said. Riddell noted the fire company did well with its fundraiser during that day.
Wolmer noted there were a couple of safety concerns that will be addressed for next year’s yard sale.

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