Greencastle, Antrim consider sharing engineer

April 24, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- At a joint meeting Thursday, the Greencastle Borough Council and the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors agreed to pursue hiring a full-time engineer to serve both municipalities.

Neither municipality has an engineer on staff, rather both contract with local and regional firms for design, review and consulting on projects.

Antrim Township Manager Ben Thomas suggested that his staff and borough staff research how much Greencastle spent in engineering fees in 2007 to determine if there would be a financial benefit to hiring a joint engineer.

"We can do internal audits to see how many hours of engineering review we paid and look at a cost-benefit analysis for a jointly hired engineer," he said.


Borough Manager Kenneth Womack said a staff engineer likely will save both municipalities money, but he cautioned that, at times, both entities still will need to contract with engineering firms for larger projects.

Womack, who has been borough manager for only three months, said in other municipalities, developers pay for the work of a borough engineer.

"The fee for a submitted development plan was substantially higher because we had a staff engineer, an expert on storm water that you can't get elsewhere," he said of his previous municipality.

Supervisor Curtis Myers said he felt local developers would pay higher fees if it meant a staff engineer could expedite the process.

The board and the council tasked Thomas and Womack with analyzing data on engineering services, which they likely will discuss at the next joint meeting in July.

The borough and township also agreed to evaluate the benefits of other collective ventures, including hiring a joint billing staff for utilities and taxes and shared equipment.

In the midst of the discussion, Thomas voiced concern that the suggestions for combined government efforts were mere "piecemeal" solutions for problems best solved by larger reform.

"If you want to get serious, get serious about the system across the board," he said.

Councilman Harry Foley said he believed Thomas was speaking of uniting the borough and township into a single government called Greencastle-Antrim.

Thomas declined to elaborate on his statement.

The boards will meet again in three months to continue discussing items from Thursday's agenda

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