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The Progress Home >> Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - Merger talks continue

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Merger talks continue
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
By Annie Lynn Staff Writer
KERMOORE - Last night the Lumber City Borough Council and Ferguson Township Supervisors met at the township building to continue discussion regarding the merger of the two entities.
Ed Fosnaught with the Center for Local Government Services, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, spoke, saying the Lumber City Borough Council had contacted PDCED to determine what is involved to consolidate with Ferguson Township. He noted that Lumber City's history is very interesting, and emphasized its identity will not be lost if there is a merger, although it will cease to be a borough.
Donna J. Piper Rupert, PhD, AICP, Peer Consultant with PDCED, developed a report about both Lumber City and Ferguson Township, which she reviewed with council and the supervisors. Ferguson Township was incorporated in 1839 and Lumber City in 1857. In 2010, the township and borough had a combined population of 520. Other information concerned income and household size, based on the 2010 census.
Ferguson Township is governed by a three-member board of supervisors, Lloyd Harnish, Donald Sheeder and Scott Blackburn, while Lumber City Borough is governed by a three-member borough council and a mayor, John Johnston. Council members are Greg Hipps, Tim Struble and Sharon Gates. Each municipality employs a part-time secretary. Ferguson Township also employs a part-time road master and three part-time temporary positions.
In 2004, the two municipalities entered into a shared services, equipment and road maintenance agreement that automatically renews on an annual basis. The report covered such items as fire and emergency medical services and police protection. Items like zoning, sewage, water, and recreation were non applicable for both entities.
Rupert also spoke about taxation and the tax structure of each municipality, noting Ferguson Township's real estate taxes are at 4 mills while Lumber City's is 3.9 mills. Ferguson Township's 2013 assessed valuation is $3,239,858 and Lumber City Borough is $524,932.
Fosnaught said they were most concerned with the finances of each municipality, noting if there were a problem, they would really need to be concerned. He added that they found no problems. General and Special fund balances were noted for years 2008 to 2011 for both municipalities.
The 2013 budgets were included in the report as were the assets of both. Fosnaught said they haven't found any reasons why the two entities cannot merge. He then explained the procedure for entering into a merger.
The first matter, he said, would be drawing up a joint agreement. He also noted what items would need to be in the agreement. Also the council and supervisors will both have to draw up an ordinance for merger.
Since the merger, if approved, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, the ordinance must be approved at the Feb. 2013 meeting. It must be advertised seven days before approval. He added that the matter must be submitted to the election board by Feb. 17 or it will not be on the 2013 ballot.
In the final analysis, Ferguson board Chairman Harnish stated that Ferguson Township is in favor of proceeding with having an agreement drawn up.
Fosnaught said they would try to have the agreement to each municipality before the Jan. 2013 meetings.
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