Clearfield Boro Approves Preliminary Budget

(GantDaily File Photo)

 CLEARFIELD – Clearfield Borough Council approved its 2013 preliminary budget for public display and maintained its property taxes at 25 mills at Thursday night’s regular meeting.

The borough’s budget is balanced and anticipated both revenues and expenditures to be in the amount of $2,204,853.37.

During the meeting, Main Street Manager Kellie Truman-Swales requested via correspondence additional funding from the borough beyond its current donation to the Clearfield Revitalization Corp. Last week, Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott said the borough had $1,000 allocated for the CRC within its current preliminary budget.

Joseph & Elizabeth Shaw Public Library representatives requested to receive at least the same amount of funding if not more this upcoming year. They said their total funding has declined by 30 percent, while state funding is tied to the amount contributed to the library by its local municipalities. Brian Marshall of the Clearfield Community Pool requested council to donate toward the renovation project for which it is currently raising funding for.

Council didn’t make any decisions regarding these requests. So far as the two latter requests, Stott said the library’s funding has been budgeted at the same as last year. She said there currently isn’t any funding budgeted for the pool renovation. Stott said last week, it would be a tough decision for council regarding the pool donation, since it hasn’t contributed to other projects such as this one.

During the public comment period, a Clearfield couple confronted council members about property damage that they alleged occurred because of the borough’s lack of storm water maintenance in the area of their residence.

Residents Gerald and Terri Bumbarger advised council that there are currently two clogged storm water drains. In addition, they said damaged drainage curbing doesn’t any longer direct water away from their foundation.

According to the couple, their home will need repairs to the foundation, while areas are sinking because of the saturated ground. They said their foundation will require $8,000 in repairs.

The Bumbargers said they have obtained a bid to replace the drainage curbing, which they allege is located along a borough alley. They said this repair would cost them $2,500.

In addition, they alleged their home has been struck by snow plows. They alleged that at least one house/plow collision occurred in January of 1996 for which they have film of.

According to the Bumbargers, these water drainage issues began back in 1988, or less than a year after buying their home and before homeowner disclosure agreements. They began to observe the issues on their property and discussed these with former Street Commissioner Bobby Ogden.

Over the years, the Bumbargers said they have addressed the water drainage issues with various borough employees, including Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack and Street Commissioner Steve Biancuzzo. However, this was only their first trip to borough council. Neither Mack nor Biancuzzo was present to confirm or deny these claims.

“In 20 years of speaking to [borough employees], not once did anyone say ‘come to borough council.’ They said they would look into it,” said Gerald Bumbarger.

Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott and Borough Solicitor F. Cortez “Chip” Bell said the borough had turned the matter over to five insurance companies. Stott said repeatedly that for this reason, the borough couldn’t take any direct action.

The Bumbargers said they had already been rejected by two companies. One company indicated that the couple’s water drainage issues originally occurred in 1988. At that time, the company wasn’t affiliated with the borough; therefore, this was not their concern.

The second company said they worked with the borough at the time; however, they currently do not. This company, too, said the couple’s water drainage issues weren’t their concern at this point.

Stott only confirmed that two of the five insurance companies had denied any action.

At this point, Terri Bumbarger accused the council of playing favorites. She said they would have corrected the water drainage issues if they had occurred to any other resident.

Putting the curbing aside, council member James Kling asked if the two clogged storm drains had been cleaned out. Terri Bumbarger said they had been cleaned out about two weeks prior. Gerald Bumgarger said he cleaned one drain.

“Are we aware that there are some physical problems up there?” asked Kling of Stott and Bell.

“We are aware of physical problems. We don’t know whose problems they are,” answered Bell.

“It is ours if they are the drains,” replied Kling. However, Stott denied that there were any borough problems at the location on East Locust Street.

Council member Fred Wisor suggested that the water drainage issues be presented to the Public Works Committee. Then, Stott re-stated that the borough could not take any action while the insurance companies were conducting their investigation.

Council member Tim Winters asked if they could at least evaluate the alley situation. Stott reminded Winters that the borough could not take any action; however, they would be permitted to visit the scene.

The council decided that council member Dave Gallaher would investigate the couple’s water drainage issues. Gallaher is the chairman of the Public Works Committee.

Kling requested that the Bumbargers submit details and their complaint in writing so that the council members could review it. Terri Bumbarger said she had provided Stott a field memo and photographs that were compiled as part of a survey by Hess & Fisher Engineers Inc. The survey detailed the state of the property back in April of this year.

Terri Bumbarger provided GantDaily.com with a copy of this memo prior to the meeting. Two copies were presented to council members during the meeting. Kling said he was unaware of this information prior to the meeting.

The field memo corroborated some of the Bumbargers’ claims. It noted that two storm drains were rendered non-functional due to the amount of sediment and gravel filling them. It cited this is a sign of the lack of cleaning for some time, and both should be routinely cleaned and maintained to stay functional.

The memo also noted that curbing, which is located along the foundation and designed to channel water away, has over time developed a several inch gap between it and the foundation. This contributed to the cracks in the home’s foundation.

It stated that ground saturation was a contributing factor to the cement pad sinking into the ground on the property. The pad supports a flight of stairs to the second floor and is said to be pulling away from the residence due to this.

The memo stated that there are several visible scrapes and collision marks on the eastern side of the house along the alley. However, it does not indicate if these were caused by snow plows. It only states that snow plow collisions had been reported.

The memo stated that the residence overall is in good structural condition. There are additional cracks in the bathroom and near the fireplace. The cracks near the fireplace were attributed to thermal stress, according to the memo.

Also during public comment, resident Jesse Miller of Clearfield asked about two recently installed “no parking” signs along East Locust Street. Miller said that this only added to the difficulty of finding a parking spot. It was noted that Miller has a driveway.

However, Miller explained his home has four legal drivers, and the driveway only has two spots. This causes him to park by Little Pine Resources at times, which is about two blocks from his home.

Wisor asked when council had approved the signs, as he could not remember discussing the issue. Stott explained that they had been approved about four months ago. Police Chief Vincent McGinnis added that the signs had been installed approximately two weeks ago.

Stott said previously, parking had been restricted to one side of the street. She explained the parking change started when paving occurred there. She said there had been three incidents in which two cars were towed away during the paving. She said there were also concerns about snow plowing that led to parking being further restrained along the road.

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