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Damage created by UGI subcontractor causes stir at borough Council meeting

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 03 2013 10:56:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 03 2013 10:56:42 PM CDT
NORTHAMPTON, Pa. -

The Borough of Northampton Council dealt with a litany of meat and potato issues during Thursday night's Public Workshop Meeting and one of those issues nearly caused one councilman to choke on anger and disbelief.

Councilman Edward Pany became mildly enraged surrounding what is normally a routine issue - formally writing off uncollected debt. One such debt to be forgiven involved UGI Utilities, Inc., for traffic signal damage a subcontractor hired by the power company did underground grid at an intersection at 21st and Main streets several years ago.

Speaking in a measured and moderately loud tone of voice that alternated between utter disbelief and mild outrage, Pany found the write off to be wholly unacceptable.

"Damage that the UGI company, serving us with natural gas, damaging our traffic signs, couldn't they be cited for this?" Pany asked borough Manager Gene Zarayko.

"We argued with them over the years and what we tried to do with them was tell them 'we are not issuing any more permits unless you pay this' and they agreed to pay it and then they didn't pay it," Zarayko replied. "It's kind of hard not to issue a permit when on the permit it says 'gas leak.'"

"UGI has not paid for damages in the Borough of Northampton," Pany replied. "Where they have many customers who use their service, are glad for their service, who pay for their service, but UGI does not reciprocate for damages inflicted on traffic signals in the Borough of Northampton," Pany said with great vim and vigor.

The total amount, $1,285.80, according to Zarayko, was written off after an 8-1 vote, with Pany dissenting.

In other business, council members heard complaints from residents about a myriad of issues related to parking, non-enforcement of noise ordinances regarding voracious barking dogs and public works department issues during the roughly 90-minute meeting.

The board also accepted the retirement resignation of borough treasurer Veronica Kostenbader, effective December 31st of this year.  Zarayko noted Kostenbader has been with the borough for the past 26 years.

"She will be missed," said President John Yurish, in accepting her retirement request.

And it was announced that the borough's Farmer's Market will close for the season on October 5th.