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Easton City Council covers variety of topics, including chickens, parking tickets, bonds

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 10 2013 09:30:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 11 2013 08:56:52 AM CDT
EASTON, Pa. -

Easton City Council mulled over a wide-range of ideas Tuesday night, from permitting city residents to raise chickens to finding new ways to upgrade its dated technology systems.

Council also plunged into the world of high-finance, discussing the various ways to structure some $16 million in bonds to fund construction of a new city hall, among other items.

No decision was made on the fate of chickens in the city, which are currently banned. Council heard from several residents who argued chickens were no different than any other pet and should be allowed.

Ted Veresink, a public health inspector, listed several concerns about chickens. His issues with chickens ranged from “manure management,” to odors, flies and various health concerns that can arise. He noted Allentown does not allow chickens in the city and Bethlehem allows them only on properties that are at least 10 acres.

City resident Annie Porter argued in favor of chickens, saying, “They have personalities. They are like pets.”

Council will eventually decide after hearing from its planning committee, a subset of council that will make a recommendation to council.

Council also listened to plans presented by Frank P. Caruso, the city’s information technology manager, who said the city has fallen behind in technology. City workers, he said, are hindered by antiquated hardware and software, causing higher operational costs.

Among the changes he recommended were a new telephone system, a move he said would save the city $100,000 a year. The new system, he said, would eliminate long-distance phone calls, which now cost the city $14,000 a year. Other changes would involve a more efficient way to operate the city’s desktop computers, as well as a new system run by Kelley Ryan Corporation of Hopedale, Mass., to manage the police department’s parking ticket operations.

“We should never fall behind like we have before,” Caruso told council.