Residents continue to speak up at Kane council meetings

There once was a time when the Kane Borough Council conducted its monthly business meetings in relative obscurity.Few residents, if any, ever attended the public forums.That’s all changed this year.Council’s approval of a tax increase earlier this year has spurred the formation of a citizens’ group. This informal group has met several times and has undertaken a “fact-finder” mission to look inside the borough operation.The group also has encouraged Kane residents to speak up at council meetings. And they have.For 45 minutes Monday, local residents in a standing-room-only crowd of more than 20 addressed council at its monthly meeting at the borough building on Bayard Street.Here is a summary of some of the public rhetoric:*George Barron of 417 Chase St. asked the borough to enforce its rules against skateboards and bicycle riding on sidewalks.He said he is “tired of being run off the sidewalks” by youths on skateboards or bicycles.Barron also called for the borough police to patrol store parking lots, which he claimed are littered with trash and garbage.*Tim Skerl of Tionesta Avenue said the citizens’ group has offered “an olive branch” to council to set up a workshop to discuss ways to trim the borough budget.He said council is “not an exclusive club” and should be willing to meet with citizens to discuss cost-cutting measures.In his opinion, the borough “doesn’t need five policemen and three secretaries.”“We don’t need a mayor, for that matter,” he said.Skerl said critics reportedly have referred to the citizens’ group as “a gang.”“We’re not a ‘gang,’” he said. “We’re taxpayers.”*Mick Petruney of 321 Kearney St. said members of the citizens’ group have “a boat-load of knowledge” and could offer constructive criticism to council.“You’re fighting it,” he told council members.He said the citizens’ group has been asking for a meeting with council “forever.”He said the members of the citizens’ group “are the same people who put you in charge” of governing the borough.Tony Alfieri, a Smethport attorney who serves as the borough solicitor, was the time-keeper for public comments—limited to five minutes per speaker.When Alfieri told Petruney that his time was nearly up, Petruney replied: “You may have to eject me because I’m going to say what I have to say.”*Brenda Aponte of 422 Biddle St. said there’s a “whole group of people” in Kane who are “not being able to make it” due to rising property taxes.*Josie Exley of 330 Bayard St. said the members of the citizens group are “not enemies” of council.She said the group wants to meet with council to “make our town better.”*Martin Berrigan of 111 Pine St. said the citizens want to meet with council because “we’d like to help.”He said the “cost of running the borough is going up” and the increase is “unsustainable.”*Al Bokma of Ash Street wondered why council wouldn’t allow residents to provide “input” for the terms of the next police contract.*Jean Swanson of 323 Kearney St. said “I shouldn’t gave to take a second job to pay taxes.”“I don’t want to lose my home,” she said.Swanson said the citizens “deserve to be heard.”“Let us help,” she told council.See full article by purchasing the April 11 edition of The Kane Republican.