Letter: Avondale can’t afford Borough Hall upgrades

To The Editor,
At a recent Avondale Borough council meeting, I learned that some council members are moving forward with a proposal to renovate and add on to the borough building.
As a taxpaying resident of the borough, I am in disagreement with this decision and wish to make other borough residents aware of the situation and how Avondale Borough’s money is being spent.

Other borough residents need to know that this project is estimated to cost just under $200k, which would eat up about a third of the cash reserves that the borough has on hand. We’re a small borough with a small tax base and limited resources. If we should have a water, sewage or road-repair emergency, the very real scenario is that we won’t have enough money on hand to fix it.
The borough building has been used primarily for council meetings and voting. In the 2016 election, we had our highest turnout and that was less than a third of borough residents. Most residents do not use the building, nor do we have a need to, except to attend council meetings and request permits, things of that nature. Having canvassed the borough many times for elections and encouraging voter turnout, I can tell you that many residents do not even know where our borough building is, as they’ve never had a reason to go there.
When questioned, the council members supporting this project said that the new building would be a “point of pride” for the borough. Fiscal irresponsibility is not something that makes me proud. The building is currently not ADA compliant, however compliance can be achieved for much less than $180k. ADA compliance does not require a whole redo of the building.
Ironically, during this same council meeting, the same members who support this new building project waffled on a request from a borough resident to have about $300 in fees waived, so that she can work with Family Promise and help homeless families in our community. They have to “think about” absorbing $300 in fees, but $180k just for a “nice to have” does not make sense. Structures and buildings are not the core of a community, people are.  Also, if this is a project that some council members wish to see through, there are ways to achieve this without using our reserves. No mention was made about applying for grants.
During this same meeting, the borough engineer proposed that he do a study/report to determine the status of the borough roads and infrastructure. The council approved this, but it makes no sense to spend a third of the cash reserves without having this report completed yet. The engineer even said that the repairs needed in the borough “could be in the millions” so we likely will need whatever resources we have.
Yes, the building is old and small. The two employees who are there regularly should have safe and comfortable workspaces. This can be achieved for much less money than what is being proposed. A fancy new borough building is a “nice to have” item, but Avondale cannot afford it.
Lisa Lightner
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