Kate Crosby, elected in November to serve as Austin borough mayor, did not take the oath of office at the borough’s reorganizational meeting on Monday, Jan. 3.

Upon questioning by President Jesse Valenti, Crosby said she had received a telephone call from a county official informing her that she was unable to hold the position. Crosby is seeking clarification from her own legal counsel. She reported she has not received any information in writing regarding this matter. Neither council nor Crosby would provide any additional information.

Andrew Dynda, who was also elected to council, was sworn in. Dynda joined re-elected council members Valenti and Bill Solomon.

Valenti was appointed to conduct the 2022 reorganizational meeting prior to the election of new officers, then was re-elected as chairman of the Austin borough with Scott Hostetlar re-elected as vice chairman.

Council members agreed to continue holding the monthly meetings the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. unless otherwise announced.

Upon review of the treasurer’s report, Councilman Bill Solomon requested that the financial report list outstanding water and sewer payments in future reports. Upon questioning from this reporter that over $23,000 was reported as outstanding a few months ago, borough secretary Rhonda Crosby noted approximately $23,000 remains unpaid with a few residents making payments. Council reported they are moving forward with collection.

Councilman Craig Hooftallen reported on a new driveway off School Street. Council noted the proper permits were not received and voiced concerns over potential drainage issues. No action was taken and Council advised Hooftallen to monitor the situation and report any issues.

Council reviewed repairs for the F-350 truck at cost of $3,775 for a rear axle. The cost does not include installation. A lengthy discussion followed as to whether or not to follow through.

Councilman Scott Hostetlar said nearly $8,000 has been put into the vehicle already and one local garage owner advised council the motor could blow any time. The motion passed with Hostetlar and Councilwoman Amanda Crumrine opposed.

A payment of $12,500 was received from Hillcrest Logging for timber sales on the cemetery property. Hostetlar moved to deposit the funds into a separate account earmarked for vehicle purchases. Council voted 4-3 in favor of this motion.

Hostetlar noted the borough is working with Basset Engineering Services to complete paperwork for the Elliott Street bridge. Council discussed possible funding from the state for the project since the bridge enters on to a state highway. Valenti noted a meeting is being set up with Emporium and Coudersport Borough to discuss how the grant programs work and how PennDOT may be able to assist with funding.

In other business, council:

  • Appointed Roger Bickleman and Terry Myers as sewage enforcement officers.
  • Appointed Cox, Stokes, and Lantz PC as solicitor.
  • Approved Martin Causer’s using the municipal building on Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to noon for a rent rebate assistance seminar.
  • Learned Austin Fire Company responded to 160 fire calls in 2021, a 73% increase over 2020. The ambulance responded to 357 calls; a 49% increase.

The next meeting of the Austin borough council will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.

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