Democratic contests for Dunmore mayor, council and comptroller in the May 18 primary election

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May 4 – DUNMORE – The finances and future of the Keystone sanitary landfill site are the main issues in the races for the seats of the Mayor and Borough Council of Dunmore.

Longtime former borough mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney is trying to come back and faces a challenge from Mark “Max” Conway in the May 18 Democratic primary election for mayor.

The Council has three open seats and five Democratic candidates. Nominees include three incumbents – Thomas Ehnot, Tom Hallinan and Carol Scrimalli – and two challengers, William “Trip” O’Malley and Katherine Mackrell Oven.

While all of the candidates present themselves individually, Conway is aligned with O’Malley and Oven, who all oppose the proposed 42.4-year expansion of the landfill owned by Louis and Dominick DeNaples.

Loughney, who served as mayor for 24 years, lost in the 2017 primary by seven votes to Tim Burke, who opposed the landfill expansion. Burke did not seek re-election this year and endorsed Conway.

Loughney has the support of all three board members, and he supports them for their re-election.

If approved by the State Department of Environmental Protection, the Phase III landfill expansion would begin in April 2023 and allow Keystone to continue accepting waste for 42.4 years, totaling a just over 94 million tonnes, or about 188 billion pounds, according to Keystone’s expansion plans.

Calling Dunmore at a “critical crossroads,” Conway fears for the borough’s future if the DEP approves the landfill expansion for most of the out-of-state waste. Dunmore’s over-reliance on the landfill over the past 30 years has put the health, reputation, environment and finances of the borough at risk, Conway said. Without the expansion, the landfill has about five years to operate and that would create an ideal opportunity for the borough to become more forward-thinking, he said. In the meantime, he expressed concern about the borough’s collection of millions of revenues from the 2016 sewer sale. Conway wants to call on residents with financial expertise to help them better manage the sewerage. finances of the borough.

“The way Dunmore did business seems ‘old school’,” Conway said. “Part of what I want to do is get people who are residents who have more expertise with a financial background to look at our finances.”

Loughney says the dump is a fact of life for Dunmore and the challenge is to supervise it better. He proposes that the borough hire two landfill inspectors, directly from the ranks of the Friends of Lackawanna anti-landfill-expansion civic group, and with the cost of the inspectors’ salaries divided between the borough and the DEP.

“Some say I’m for (expanding the landfill), but I’m a realist and I know it’s there,” Loughney said of the landfill. “He’s here and I want to make sure he’s working in the best possible way.”

When it comes to finances, there are no easy answers, Loughney said. Not using the proceeds from the sale of sewers would have meant an increase in taxes to finance operations and projects.

“I don’t want to see any of our services cut,” Loughney said. “People want things to be done and it costs money. Where are you going to get it?”

Loughney touted his previous efforts to start the {span} Drug Abuse Resistance Education {/ span} program and school resource manager, build the community center, and support improved police training and equipment. , as well as programs for seniors and youth. Loughney is also keen to see more street paving and the borough to hire a paving inspector to make sure utility companies restore roads after they complete their work.

Conway also wants better communication with utilities so residents know the full extent of road works and to ensure streets are properly repaired after utility works. Conway also wants to revamp Dunmore’s social media presence to promote small business, improve the streetscape and parking lot at Dunmore Corners, and launch an “ambassador” program to engage local college students in business and activities. the rounding.

Meanwhile, the council run was shaped by a key moment in October 2019, when a divided council voted 4-3 that landfills are not structures limited to the 50-foot height restriction in the District of landfill zoning. The approval of the zoning change advanced the landfill expansion plan and dealt a major blow to the Friends of Lackawanna opposition.

At that point, Ehnot, Scrimalli and then-council members Michael McHale and Michael Hayes voted in favor of the zoning change sought by the landfill. Hallinan, Michael Dempsey and Vince Amico voted against the zoning change.

In November 2019, McHale and Hayes each lost their re-election and Dempsey and Amico each won their re-election. Beth McDonald Zangardi and Janet Brier also won the council election in November 2019, with Brier mounting a superb last-minute written campaign after the controversial discharge vote.

Now, in 2021, the three winners of the Democratic primary for the board, if they win the general election, would join Amico, Brier, Dempsey and Zangardi on the seven-member board.

O’Malley said the 2019 vote prompted him to run for the board.

“When I got out of that meeting, I said, ‘I’m going to report to the board.’ The biggest issue in the history of the borough, and they just sat there and didn’t ask a question. They said a word, their vote, and walked out the door. I am 100% against the expansion of the landfill. I don’t know how anyone would go for it. “

Oven, a founding member of the Friends of Lackawanna, or FOL, said the landfill was already posing significant negative ramifications for Dunmore and beyond, in terms of smell, air quality and leachate, and that a massive expansion would only make the situation worse.

“It will cast a shadow over the borough that we will never get out of from below,” Oven said.

Before FOL, there was very little oversight of the landfill, Oven said. And while the expansion may eventually materialize, a watchdog-focused board could take some oversight action. The council’s role in appointing zoning and planning council members is also important for the future of the borough, she said.

“I’m pretty proud of what Friends of Lackawanna has done. We’ve opened people’s eyes to what’s going on. We’ve made a lot of progress,” Oven said. “I have been fighting for seven years. Finally, I would like to be a member of the board so that I can vote and make a difference.”

Scrimalli said she does not like the landfill expansion, but is needed for the host fee income received which helps pay for municipal services.

In 2020, at $ 1.52 per tonne in landfill host fees, the borough received approximately $ 2.57 million.

“Nobody wants it in their backyard, but we make the income from it and it’s a big part of our budget,” Scrimalli said. “I’m not keen on this (expansion), but I don’t want to lose that income. When you look at the services, the paid police services, the paid firefighters and the DPW – the best – we get the revenue from the source. from the landfill. “

Ehnot is supporting landfill expansion due to host fees.

“I support him. It’s all about finances,” Ehnot said. “If it ever closes, we’ll probably have to cut some departments and raise taxes, and I oppose that.”

Hallinan opposes the landfill expansion and said the issue has divided friends and family members in the tight borough.

“Sooner or later, whether it’s now or 50 years from now, we’re going to have to learn to live without this (landfill) money,” Hallinan said. “It’s time to start planning for the future and take responsibility for our operating costs every day. We need to be prepared for when it dries up. Something is going to have to change.”

Hallinan also said the borough should focus on paving roads and improving drainage.

O’Malley and Oven also expressed concern about the Borough’s reliance on proceeds from the sale of sewers. Almost $ 14 million of around $ 18 million in revenue has been used, they said.

Ehnot said he would also prefer not to have to mine the proceeds from the sale of sewers, but the funds helped avoid tax increases and were put to good use, including for a new roof on the community center and the renovation of the Schautz stadium, which has become profitable by renting it out.

“It (using the money from the sale of sewers) is certainly not a good idea, but it is a necessity. You never know on a given day when something breaks and you have to use it,” Ehnot said.

Scrimalli said the board is balancing the finances as best it can.

“We are getting there. We are tightening our belts and working with what we have and trying to be as frugal as possible going forward,” Scrimalli said. “We haven’t raised taxes for many, many years, which is a good thing. We don’t want to raise taxes, that’s for sure.”

Other breeds

Meanwhile, longtime borough comptroller Andrew Genovese faces a challenge from former city councilor Michael Hayes in the Democratic primary.

A win for Genovese would make him the oldest controller in the district next year, he said. Genovese was first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

“My experience speaks for itself,” said Genovese of his 16-year term as Controller. “You’re there as a watchdog for the taxpayers, you sign all the checks and make sure it’s all right, and try to help as much as you can.”

Hayes said he wanted to make financial information more easily accessible online.

“I think it’s very important to modernize the comptroller’s office,” said Hayes. “I want to create a website where we can have real-time data to see how and where the borough’s money is being spent. At a time when I can watch them play in the mud on Mars, we should be able to have access to real, real-time government data. “

Former municipal councilor Paul Nardozzi is also running without contest for the Democratic nomination for the post of tax collector of the district.

All seats – mayor, council, comptroller and tax collector – serve four-year terms.

No Republican shows up in the primary for any of these offices.

Annual salaries for positions include: mayor, $ 6,000; advice, $ 3,000 each; controller, $ 3,500; tax collector, $ 2,500.

{span} Contact the author: {/span [email protected] Danemarkspan}; 570-348-9100 x5185; @jlockwoodTT on Twitter. {/scope}

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