TOWANDA BOROUGH — The Towanda Borough council moved to declare an emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday evening. The meeting was held in person, law stipulates that at least five members must meet in person to satisfy a quorum, while any public or other members connected via telephone.
The council also moved to adopt county emergency plans in two resolutions, discussed the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and accepted the resignation of a council member in the meeting. The declaration of emergency and the adoption of county emergency plans allows the borough to be eligible for federal monies if and when they become available.
In keeping with state mandated social distancing, Borough Manager Kyle Lane said in the meeting that he had implemented a system that allows half of the borough employees to work from home and the other half in the office. Every week, the two halves switch places and are able to do their work while limiting physical interaction.
In Lane’s report to the council, he noted that the tax revenue generated from income tax could be lower than usual next month given the amount of layoffs that have taken place in the borough. If the tax revenue is lower than expected and water and sewer payments to the Towanda Municipal Authority drop off as well, the borough could be in a tough place when it comes to considering layoffs.
“We’re going to do everything we can to keep these people paid for as long as we can,” Lane said in the meeting.
Lane added that layoffs would be a last resort for the municipality.
Commenting on how the crisis is affecting life in town, some council members noted that they have seen numerous people walking on the River Walk along the Susquehanna in the day.
“They’re going stir crazy and have to do something,” council member William Kovalcin remarked. “It’s a nice release for the people here.”
The council also complained about the lack of emergency funding to help municipal governments in the crisis. Currently no stimulus or emergency bill allocates emergency funds to municipalities.
“If we were a corporation we would’ve gotten some money,” Kovalcin added.
The council also took time to recognize council member Keith Long who tendered his resignation to the borough because he is moving out of his jurisdiction as a first ward council representative. Long, who also acts as the borough’s parking enforcement officer and will continue to do so, said that he thoroughly enjoyed his experience in his years on the council and that he was very happy to work with everyone he interacted with.
The council thanked him for his service to the community.
Due to Long’s resignation, the council is now in search of a replacement. To be considered for Long’s seat, one must write a letter of interest to the borough, live in the first ward and be a currently registered voter. The term would continue until 2023.
The borough encourages anyone with interest to apply.
Consequence of Long’s exit, council member Rex Klinger was voted to replace Long as the council’s vice president.