The Petersburg Borough assembly wants to look into informing the public about borough service areas.
Assembly members at their last meeting decided to table an ordinance because of some confusion about service areas. The ordinance would transfer traffic parking regulations and fines to the borough code.
Assembly member, Bob Lynn had several issues with the ordinance. As it stands, the borough police are not supposed to respond outside of service area one, the only service area that exists. It includes what used to be known as Petersburg city limits.
“This particular ordinance pushes it borough wide for public highways,” Lynn said. “Papkes is a public highway. And if I’m correct, then why do we want to have an ordinance that we can’t enforce at this point?”
Lynn suggested that they table the ordinance until Police Chief Kelli Swihart returned in December after his training. Other assembly members unanimously agreed. Until the assembly makes a change, the old ordinance on parking laws will remain in effect.
The discussion of service areas came up later in the meeting as a discussion item that Assembly member John Havrilek put on the agenda.
“You get rumors involved saying, ‘oh, well, I’m at Papkes, the fire or the EMTs aren’t going to come serve me because I’m not in service area 1.’ And the thing is, that’s not true but people are confused about that,” Havrilek said.
Havrilek said he would like to put the topic on future agendas so the assembly can get more public feedback.
“What I’d like to do is hear from members of the public what their concerns and questions are and then put something out, like I said, on the radio and in writing saying this is what a service [area is], this is who gets what, like if you call from out the road and across the way about an injury or something worse, do you call the troopers, do you call the police, will the harbor send a boat over, you know, things like this.”
The fire department did not changed the way it responds to emergencies after the borough was formed. They still respond to all calls. But borough manager, Steve Geisbrecht said there is confusion because the language in the charter says differently.
“Charter’s really clear,” Geisbrecht said. “I mean, you can argue that the charter says we shouldn’t be responding to fire, we shouldn’t be sending police officers, I mean, that’s what the charter says.”
Assembly member Nancy Strand said defining service areas goes beyond the borough responding to emergencies. She said they need to get clarification on other services as well.
“Like snow removal and other services that property taxes cover,” Strand said. “I can understand the EMTs and fire. Doesn’t everybody get a bill for an ambulance call? So that service hasn’t changed at all but if they want additional services, then they need to be educated. We all probably need to be educated about why they need to form a service area.”
The assembly decided to hold discussions on the topic of service areas in future meetings.