Less than one week after an official investigation into possible financial improprieties in Oakland Borough came to light, council adopted several measures at their regular meeting on Thursday, Aug. 8.
Council opened the meeting with a statement read by Police Chief John Creamer on behalf of the Pennsylvania State Police. The statement called for questions regarding the investigation to be directed to the Tpr. Robert Urban, PSP Community Service Officer.
Immediately after the statement, council called for an executive session that lasted nearly 50 minutes.
Coming out of the closed door meeting, council approved several related motions.
The first called for all employees of the borough to cooperate with investigators and provide access to all documents needed regarding the borough and its entities.
Council members also voted to abstain from making any “large financial decisions,” including a 50 percent investment planned for the borough garage until the investigation is complete.
With one vote in opposition, council voted to table a $4,000 request for “comp time” submitted by Jeff Wayman until a solicitor reviews the request.
Oakland Borough will also be looking for a new solicitor and will advertise a request for proposals for an attorney. Councilwoman Valerie Senese said several emails had been sent to the current solicitor since news of the investigation broke and had not received a response.
Council President Gary Boughton restructured the borough finance committee. The finance committee will now be comprised of the council president, vice president, and the borough treasurer and assistant treasurer. Boughton also added that he appreciated the prior work that had been done by the finance committee the new appointees would be replacing.
The finance committee will work with the agencies involved in the investigation.
At the July meeting, council had adopted “rules of conduct” for audience members, including provisions for camera equipment, sound recordings and a three-minute time limit for those wishing to offer public comment.
Council also reorganized in July, naming Boughton as president; Valerie Senese as vice president; and Brad Krayeski as President Pro-Temp.
Patrick Gall was appointed to council, filling a vacancy with the resignation of Christina Deakin, who had been serving as the council president.
Council also addressed a complaint made to Rep. Jonathan Fritz’s office that a non-borough resident had been barred from speaking and stated that had not occurred.
As of the meeting, the borough had no road maintenance employees but Boughton said there was one person interested in the position so far.
There is, however, a volunteer committee looking to tackle some problems on the borough streets. A meeting was held with representatives from Soil Conservation regarding streets on the borough’s priority list for necessary repairs that can be addressed with a grant and work that the volunteer committee could do. Council allocated $600 as a maintenance budget for the volunteer committee so they can fill some of the worst holes on the borough streets.
Council members also discussed access to the sewer authority and will request the authority provide its policy on keyholders. The sewer authority is looking into who can have keys according to their insurance provider, explained one audience member.
Senese questioned how the borough could gain access to its garage on the property if needed, with the answer that the mayor could call and let the authority know what they are doing.
The borough is also looking for someone to provide cleaning for the borough building twice a month, and approved $30 per month for that service. Council also approved garbage service noting the total cost would amount to about $48 per year provided they use the sticker bags.
Oakland Borough began the year in financial distress with only about $6,000. Since then, council is approving its budget on a monthly basis.
Council also discussed moving the borough safe from the garage to the borough building.
The fire department bill will be paid in full using borough Impact Fee revenue.
With borough committees meeting on other days, Senese proposed council change its regular meeting day and time. She advocated for moving the meeting to the second Monday of each month, with committee meetings held following the council meeting.
Boughton opposed the change in the vote, and the Senese rescinded her motion.
Council meetings will remain the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m., and will be followed by committee meetings on that day.