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Honesdale looks at the record; considers cable franchise fee

February 29, 2012

Scott Smith, chairman of the Honesdale Borough Council Finance Committee, reported to the council at its February 27 meeting on the work of a service agency hired to organize the records of the zoning office.

It had been alleged by The Wayne Independent that there were missing records in the office of Wayne Earley, the borough zoning officer. The newspaper reported that there were three break-ins into the office, which included the theft of a computer. The borough has hired Kelly Services, Inc., a company of temporary workers, to take on the mass of records that were allegedly in a mess and give them some order.

“The agency has completed the first part of the job, putting the records in order, and will next create an electronic log of all permits that the zoning office has processed,” Smith said. “This is something that we have not done on a quarterly basis. It will give us a clearer picture of the files.”

The Kelly group will move onto other departments of the borough to do the same, he said.

The investigation discovered a missing file that had been reported stolen in the first break-in. Because the file was subpoenaed for a case in court, it was recreated. So far there are no other files missing. The Kelly work has cost the borough about $2,000.

On other matters , Smith told members that an annual audit would be conducted by Bonita and Ramie, an accounting firm in Scranton.

“The company will begin their audit today and hopefully will answer questions that have been raised about permit fees,” Smith said. “This will give us a clean bill of health.”

The auditors will come before the council to give a report on the borough’s past financial records, he said.

In another board action, the borough will consider charging cable companies a fee for the franchise that is exercised in the borough. “Honesdale has never done this, but many other municipalities have,” Smith said. “We need to decide if it makes sense to impose a fee.”

The fee would be about 5% of what the company charges its customers for cable service, he said. A concern is that the company will most likely pass the expense onto its borough customers.

“We need to decide whether we want to do that,” he said.

Bob Mueller and Lennie Grover of the Wayne Conservation District appeared before the council, and offered to assist the borough in implementing the grant of $431,095 received by the borough from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Monroe County Gaming program for a storm water project that will mitigate the damage caused by water flows from Blake’s Creek.