• The Boro

CPA: No IrregularitiesFound in Borough Books; Mayor Pushes Inexperienced Web Designer he Found

MOUNT POCONO - The Borough Council received no support for any suggestion of financial impropriety from the CPA report it commissioned to review borough bookkeeping records.

Council ordered a review of the 2020 municipal accounts up to their firing of 30-year Borough Secretary/Treasurer Lori Noonan. The report from East Stroudsburg accountants Kirk, Summa & Co., LLP, was reviewed at the February 1 council meeting. It confirmed that all balances and funds were correct. “The net variance is zero, and each item cleared subsequently with no discrepancies,” their report stated.

At the meeting, council also accepted the resignation of another long-time public servant. Ending nearly 30 years of dedicated service to the borough, Planning Commission chair Kevin Kirkwood submitted his resignation.

Kirkwood joined the Commission in 1992 and has been chair of the body almost all of that time. “My motivation was very simply to protect the quality of life in the Borough,” he told the council in his resignation statement.

In addition to the Planning Commission opening, the council has still not filled the open seats on the Municipal Authority or Library Board. Residents willing to serve on any of those bodies should send a letter of interest to Borough Manager Joshua Walker at office@mountpocono-pa.gov.

The council devoted over half of the meeting to presentations from companies interested in revamping the municipal website. Walker had investigated potential vendors and recommended Proud City. Proud City exclusively provides web services to small municipalities. Proud City CEO and founder Luke Fretwell made the presentation to the council.

Also at the meeting was Chris English, from Blakeslee, invited by the mayor after Walker said he was recommending Proud City. The mayor said he learned of English from a Facebook post by English offering to do free work to gain experience. English said he’s never designed a municipal website.

Both potential vendors were well under the $8,000 council budgeted for the project and both offered similar services. Bucco and Neville complained that the other companies Walker investigated should have been invited. Bucco told Walker “it feels like you’re influencing for Proud City.”

“Absolutely,” Walker responded, “that’s my job.” He told Bucco that he did what he was hired to do. “I did the research, I did the interviews, then picked the best one. That’s why you hired me. I am asking you to trust me in my professional opinion and position.”

Aida Montanez made a motion to award the business to Proud City. After objections from Neville and Bucco, council president Williams asked Montanez to withdraw the motion. Montanez agreed and Council then tabled the matter.

Council also approved a series of minutes dating back to early November, which were never prepared by the temporary full-time secretary they hired to do Noonan’s job.

Council also voted to hire Coolbaugh’s tax collector, Gratz Washenik, for 2021 to replace the borough collector who suddenly resigned in January.

They also voted to pay bills totaling $33,643.96.

The next meeting of the borough council is Tuesday, February 16. The work session begins at 7pm, followed by a regular meeting. The meeting will be online, connection information is sometimes on the borough website.

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