Officer Joseph Thompson sworn in to full-time position

City Council discusses initiatives for ‘make or break year’

By Kyle CarrozzaStaff Writer, The Times

Police Chief Jack Laufer (left) stands with Ofc. Joseph Thompson (right) after Thompson's swearing in ceremony.

Police Chief Jack Laufer (left) stands with Ofc. Joseph Thompson (right) after Thompson’s swearing in ceremony.

COATESVILLE – Officer Joseph Thompson was sworn in to a full-time position at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Previously a part-time officer, Thompson has a combined 20 years of experience between the state police and Marines. He also received highest honors during his time as a state police officer.

The Coatesville Police Department was also honored by Chester County Highway Safety during Monday’s meeting. Highway Safety Project Director Lori Aguilera presented an award to the department for prevention, education, and enforcement of highway safety issues.

Aguilera said that the department installed 260 car seats over the past year and also distributed car seats and bike helmets. She also commended them for participation in DUI checkpoints, Operation Safe Stop, and the Aggressive Driving Program.

In particular, Aguilera recognized Sgt. Rodger Ollis, who has made visits to schools as a part of seat-belt, distracted driving, and DUI programs. “When I got to know Sgt. Ollis, I realized his passion was more than just enforcing the rules,” she said.

Monday night’s meeting also saw Council receive and consider a revolution to revise the 2014 budget to include $250,000 for the development and beautification of businesses.

The addition to the budget would set aside $100,000 from the city’s trust fund to paint and improve facades downtown, $100,000 to promote incentives to encourage business growth, and $50,000 to obtain the services of a grant-writing consultant.

“This year, 2014, is a make it or break it year for Coatesville, financially,” said Council Vice President David C. Collins.

Collins said that with the $7.5 million left in the trust fund – $2 million of which will be used in this year’s budget – the city has to make sure that some of the money goes toward meaningful change before it runs out.

City Council also discussed what this meaningful change meant.

As a part of a resolution passed last year, Council developed a loose set of goals that will be discussed more in the future. Of the goals drafted on Monday night, Council decided to stabilize the tax base, improve quality-of-life issues, confirm and validate all city-owned properties throughout the year, and update codes and ordinances.

“That code book is probably driving some of the issues that we’re dealing with today,” said Collins.

Council Member Arvilla Hunt said that in honor of 2015 being Coatesville’s centennial, she would like to see Council begin planning early so that the city can hold a celebration that could change outside perception of Coatesville.

Council Members, as well as audience members, held an open discussion, brainstorming ideas that would help the city to reach its goals throughout the coming year.

Collins said that a market analysis concluded that restaurants would be the best way to improve the city’s economy. Considering the city’s location, eateries would draw people into the city and encourage those who drive through the city to stop.

A few residents took part in the discussion. Paul Evans, a city landlord, said that he would like to see landlords and business owners cooperate and develop plans for vacant buildings in the city.

A couple of audience members said that they would like to see citizens take responsibility for cleaning up. “I think what we need to do is clean up the city ourselves,” suggested one resident.

David DiSimone agreed, saying that cleanliness leaves a first impression on people who come through. He also said that the fact that such a discussion was taking place is a step in the right direction. “I’m encouraged as a property owner and invest with what you’re planning,” he said.

The meeting was not all a matter of council members’ agreeing with each other, though.

One of the night’s agenda items regarded waiving trash-collection fees for residents who were missed by the city’s billing system. Council Members Marie Hess, Linda Lavender Norris, and Arvilla Hunt voted in favor of waiving the fees while Ingrid Jones, Ed Simpson, and David Collins voted against. City Council President Joseph Hamrick was absent.

However, the city will also look to improve its trash collection and billing system this year.

In an agenda item, City Manager Kirby Hudson requested permission to seek a two-month extension in the city’s solid-waste collection contract with Eagle Disposal. Hudson is currently working with Director of Finance John Marcarelli to develop a request for proposal that would be utilized this spring.

Hudson said that they are looking for a waste collection company that would directly bill residents, provide trash totes, and initiate efforts to increase recycling. He said that these efforts would cut down on costs for the city as well as residents. The extension that they are seeking would take the current contract to the end of May, giving administration more time to work on its RFP.

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  1. Lady Concern says:

    Why would the city approve full-time employment to someone who has down nothing but burn the already broken bridge between citizens and police department

  2. Michael says:

    After just getting slapped with a 37 percent tax increase, why would anyone want to support Coatesville and its Council? Sorry Hunt, Collins, Simpson, and Hudson but you screwed us one too many times and we will not believe in any half hearted goals of yours.

  3. Dave says:

    SMH!! Just call Allen Smith back already! The guy is doing this work for a senator and first class cities as a consultant! It’s crystal clear now!

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