may have left taxpayers in the dark
|Thursday, 07 December 2006 |
There seems to
be a lot of confusion about the use of dredge
materials from harbors and rivers.
article in the Standard-Speaker said that
the material might begin to arrive before the end
of this year. The same article said that the
Pennsylvnia Department of Environmental Protection
authorized the use of dredged material from
harbors and rivers.
Environmental Hearing Board is not going to hear
testimony in the appeal by SUFFER until April 2007
after much dredge material might already have been
brought into the area.
According to the
newspaper, the hearing board conducted a review of
the site for all parties in the case and on Sept.
28 denied a motion that Hazleton Creek made for
partial summary judgment in its favor.
the case is still open, it is questionable that
the contractor should be able to bring in the
material questioned in the case before a decision
has been made by the state.
It has been
reported that millions of dollars were to be paid
to the city by the contractor for the importing of
the dredge material.
It was not said if there
were any restrictions on what was paid to the
city. A legal opinion should be requested if the
city could be liable if there were any cases
brought against it because of damages from the use
of the material.
The question that this
arrangement raises is why the city should be
responsible for damages which it did not cause and
not the company or individuals responsible for the
importing and use of the material.
If this is
not covered in the agreement, it would seem to
indicate that the contractor may be trying to
avoid accepting responsibility for its actions and
trying to throw the responsibility to the
residents of this city who were not even given a
chance to vote on their agreement for the use of
If this arrangement is correct,
there are two groups which might be liable for any
problems which could be created and which should
therefore be involved in determining any possible
The first group who should examine
the whole situation and possible liability is the
It could be very embarrassing
for it if something happened and the city was
involved as defendant in a lawsuit involving
substantial money because the members of the city
council did not take the responsibility for
protecting the city before the problem
The other group that should examine the
possibility of any liability is the local
taxpayers because they were not told all of the
facts before the project was approved.
is no reason why all of the provisions of the
agreement between the contractors and the city
should not be presented to the taxpayers and then
give them a chance to give their approval after
all of the conditions were presented to them and
give them the opportunity to present their
approval or orbjections to city council.
people wanting to push their project were not
aware of the fact that there might be a
possibility of possible damage which could cause
lawsuits, they would not think about withholding
the money that they said they would be paid to the
city instead of even wanting to put the money in
escrow so that any damages would be paid by the
city instead of them.
Instead of keeping the
provisions secret, they should bring them out into
the open and let city council approve the
agreement after the taxpayers had the opportunity
to approve the agreement in an election in which
the provisions were fully
Bernard H. Kline,