EASTON, Pa. – Now that Easton's $10.3 million in 2021 American Rescue Plan pandemic-relief funds are in the bank, the city has to decide how to spend it, Mayor Sal Panto said at a city council meeting Wednesday night.
Panto suggested some money should go to bringing back employees who were furloughed last year.
Councilman Roger Ruggles said ideas from residents were solicited at a meeting earlier, and a survey will be posted on the city website to seek more input.
Councilman Peter Melan said a survey may be premature because guidelines for spending the federal money are not final yet.
"Maybe we should hold off on this," Melan said.
Ruggles said the survey should be posted because any good ideas presented could still be considered, even if they do not qualify for the federal funds.
The mayor said recommendations for spending the money might be made to council at the second meeting in July. City council would have final approval.
Increased pay for parking enforcement officers
Council also approved a plan to raise the base pay for parking enforcement officers to $18 from $15.45.
"This will help us retain the people we have and recruit," city Administrator Luis Campos said after the meeting.
"We are in the same situation that the private sector is in" when it comes to recruiting labor, Panto said. The city has to compete with warehouses and with the federal government's extra unemployment payments.
Melan suggested that bonuses be considered to draw in more workers for the peak summer season.
Payments for towing companies
The mayor also proposed that towing companies be required to accept payment by credit and debit cards. He raised the same issue last year, and complaints continue.
Panto said at a 2020 meeting that there is no question that property owners can have cars towed, but he said state law requires that payments to get cars back be accepted with plastic, not just cash as some companies have demanded. Car owners who could not get $350 in cash immediately were then at risk of paying additional storage fees.
Council will consider his proposal at a later meeting.
Also during Wednesday's meeting, Police Chief Carl Scalzo introduced five recruits to Easton's police department and shared that Daniel Bonham, who joined the force in 2006, was promoted to lieutenant from sergeant.