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Stoner addresses Letters to Editor

Last night’s Tyrone Borough Council meeting, in effect was a rebuttal of Letters to the Editor published in Saturday’s Daily Herald.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Tyrone resident Jim Ray spoke to the council.
“I hope the council members took the past three weeks to really look at the budget and come up with some alternative spending plans,” said Ray. “One thing that I found to help cut costs that was pretty obvious was the $500,000 that you are going to spend to renovate this building here. I suggest you do what is necessary to maintain this building and to keep it up, then add the improvements over the next few years. This would free up some funds to start 2004. According to Al’s (Borough Manager Al Drayovich) budget at the end of 2003 heading into 2004 we are only going to have $6,000 to start 2004 and I really don’t think that is enough especially with the police contract still needing settled.
“The other comment I have is about longevity,” said Ray. “Being that I can’t rebut anything that is said let me ask if it is really just a bonus, who gets it, who tracks it and what did Borough employees give up last year if you were giving them a bonus all along. And if you think bonusing the employees is going to keep them, don’t worry, they aren’t going anywhere. They’d be crazy to leave this ‘Gravy Train’ for a bonus. You only have a handful of employees who I think would even make it in the real world. The money you are spending on longevity would almost pay for two full time policemen which is something I feel we really need. Mayor Stoner, I ask you to tell me what longevity is and what it is doing in our budget?”
The mayor thanked Ray for his comment and said we will address the issues at the end of public comment.
Bill Fink spoke next and said, “When we started the meeting here, I noticed we didn’t say the pledge to the flag and made no gesture toward that. I was just wondering if that was common practice here?”
Stoner answered, “We do it here always when we have a regular council meeting. This is our work session tonight. We definately do it on our work session nights. We always do it at our council meetings.”
That ended the public’s comment, then Mayor Stoner addressed the Letters to the Editor from Saturday’s Daily Herald.
“I am going to exercise my right here and make a comment,” said Stoner. “I need to address an issue because you have made it an issue and I am speaking now more specifically to Jim (Ray) and to Bill (Fink). You have pushed the envelope. When you didn’t just imply but accused me of having no regard for the safety of the people of this community. I’ve spent the last five years as mayor committed to the betterment of this community. The good people who elected me know this to be true. That’s why they opted to elect and re-elect me by landslide margins each time. To accuse me of doing anything that is what I believe is in the best interest of this borough is nothing less than scurrilous. It is an insult to the intelligence of the good people of this community for you to imply otherwise. My door is literally open everyday of the work week. I am probably the most accessible mayor that has ever served in the borough. But, if you really had a problem, I am available. But instead, you spend a great deal of time trying to impress people with your half-knowledge and and set out to not only impune my character but that of this fine council, which I feel is one of the best ever seated in this borough. The electorate incidently showed their approval of their performance by electing them not once, but twice in the past two elections.
“This community has placed their trust in us to try to do what is in their best interest,” Stoner continued. “And they know that while we might make mistakes, we are making every effort to live up to our committment to them. You have been invited to get involved, but you have been noticibly absent from participating in anything constructive, instead prefering to stay on the sidelines and concentrate on starting brush fires. Do you not think the electorate recognizes this for what it is. That is why your efforts to enflame have fallen and will continue to fall on deaf ears. That is my own personal feeling.
“Now I hesitate to address the police department to any degree being that we are presently in negotiations and in fact we have a meeting tomorrow morning (Tuesday),” said the mayor. “To imply that this borough does not have police protection is ludicrous. We have 24 hour a day, seven day a week police protection, with two police officers on every daylight shift and two police officers on every night shift. I think that’s pretty good police protection for a community of 5,300 people. When other communities of like size of ours are doing away with police departments and are opting to use the state police because they can’t afford to keep police coverage, we’ve sacrificed and we’ve made efforts to keep our police department here and we will keep our police department here.
Ray tried to ask about longevity, but was stopped by the mayor. “I will address that,” said Stoner. “When you talk about risking safety, keep in mind that we have this coverage seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, if you are willing to make these statements, you have to be willing to be rebutted. Two shift at night and two on a shift everyday. That is darn good police coverage. Most of all, I resent the way you try to impune the character of this council. It needs to stop! You are hurting this community! You are not helping it, you are hurting it.”
The mayor then deferred to Borough Manager Al Drayovich to address the “longevity” question.
“I guess the only comment I would make is that longevity is a benefit that was raised in Police and ASCME bargaining and was part of the consideration by the council a number of years ago and it was part of an overall budget consideration as part of the contract consideration a number of years ago and it was granted as part of councils consideration of the overall contract a number of years ago and I think that speaks to that particular issue,” was Drayovich’s response.
Ray asked, “who tracks it, who gets it?” Stoner stopped Ray by saying, “I will call you out of order if you interupt again.”
Drayovich responded, “It’s a benefit that is provided to all borough employees that is included as a specific line item in the budget for all the employees in the general fund, water and sewer provided to all the full time employees.
Ray tried to ask more about the question, but was stopped by council member Jim Beckwith. “He said all full time employees. Do you want names? All full time employees,” said Beckwith. “Ray tried to get further into the ‘Longevity’ when Beckwith said, “ I’m getting a little fed up with you coming in here too.” Ray responded, “I don’t care.” Beckwith said, “I know you don’t care. That is very evident. Very evident.” The mayor gaveled. Beckwith added, “I think the question has been answered, Let’s move on mayor.”
Drayovich responds to Saturday’s Letters to the Editor, in tomorrow’s Daily Herald.