by Jonathan Weaver
During last night’s Ford City business meeting, five council members unanimously voted to enter into the Armstrong Uniform Construction Code Group.
Councilman Marc Mantini – who was absent from last night’s meeting – was appointed as Ford City’s group representative, while Police Chief Roger Wright will serve on the Appeals Board and Borough Secretary Lisa Bittner as the Zoning Officer.
Mantini and Chief Wright both entered into one year terms, respectively.
Council Vice-President Tyson Klukan made the initial motion.
“Ford City Borough received a letter of resignation from our previous zoning and codes officer Jeff Richardson. He did an outstanding job under his tenure here, but there were a lot of complaints from constituents about the time that he was in town and also some other situations,” Klukan said. “Council was discussing this, and we felt it was a necessary move because other municipalities are in this cog – so it makes sense from a management level, but also there are other problems in the county where these municipalities are seeing the same problems we are. Let’s share services here.”
According to the County Planning and Development website, more than 30 local municipalities are part of the UCC group – which contracts with Bureau Veritas to provide third-party inspection services on a set fee schedule.
A permit must be issued by the Code Official prior to constructing or altering a structure, constructing an addition, demolishing a structure, making a change of occupancy or installing or altering equipment regulated by the code.
Like the other municipalities, Ford City will not be charged for this service or to be part of the cog.
Klukan said other factors Council considered included Bureau Veritas’ local office in Manor Township and their vast number of employees.
“There has been negotiation with previous councils over the years about joining the cog, but this Council took it upon themselves to say ‘It’s time to go forward sharing services and bring some money back into the Borough.’
“We’re not here to hurt the people, but to enforce the Uniform Construction Code in the proper fashion.”
In addition, Chief Wright said he and Officer Robert Yough have overseen five rental inspections in the past few months to save the Borough additional dollars.
“It’s not something you need certified to do. Myself and Officer Yough both have a little bit of a construction background, so we have the ability to perform that task,” Chief Wright said.
Officer Yough was hired part-time in mid-April.
Mayor Jeff Cogley will assist those appointees, as he chaired the local zoning hearing board for at least five years in the early 2000’s. He recalled that one of his zoning hearing board decisions involved Magisterial District Judge Gary DeComo’s courtroom along 5th Avenue.
After a 10-minute recess and a brief executive session, council members also hired three men to serve as Public Works temporary or seasonal employees while also promoting another to work as a seasonal employee.
While it was agreed the pending hires was advertised, council members could not recall if council members voted to advertise for the employees at a prior open council meeting.
Councilwoman Beth Bowser initially called for the personnel items to be voted upon since no public question preceded last night’s meeting and since Public Works employees were “very badly” needed.
Council ultimately agreed, Council President Carol Fenyes said “due to the fact that it was advertised, and we do have a desperate need for workers.”
Klukan reminded residents that council members have not hired seasonal employees for items such as grass cutting or weed wacking, and have a limited amount of employees with a commercial driver’s license.