Bloomfield leadership changes expose divisions on board
Bloomfield Borough Council decided to reorganize its leadership at the February 2 meeting, electing city councilor Eric Berger as its next president.
The change came towards the end of the meeting and seemed to take then-president J. Kevin Fitzpatrick by surprise when Berger proposed a reorganization of the board’s officers.
Fitzpatrick said it came as a surprise and no one had discussed the change with him before or he would have been the one to initiate the reorganization.
“Titles mean nothing to me,” he said. “I was elected to the board, not president. “
Berger, Brenten Dum, Wayne Lesher and Kimberly McMullen voted for the reorganization, then elected Berger as chairman of the board and Lesher as vice-chairman. Fitzpatrick, Michael Smith and Jacob Casey voted against the motions.
Last week, Berger called the change an “administrative adjustment” in an email responding to questions from the newspaper, and suggested it was to help the borough better meet the city’s needs.
“Kevin runs his own business and volunteers with several community organizations, leaving him little free time,” said Berger. “I generally have a more flexible schedule, which allows me to be more accessible for certain tasks. “
Fitzpatrick runs Cnesta, a business consultancy firm, in the borough. Berger is a maintenance worker with the West Perry School District. Berger was appointed to fill a vacant board position in January 2019. He and Fitzpatrick both won election to council later this year. Fitzpatrick is also a member of the boards of directors of the Perry County Economic Development Authority and the Perry County Literacy Council.
“It never affected my role on the board,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said his business and other community activities had nothing to do with the reorganization. He said there had been several complaints from council members that he was too involved in certain issues around the borough. He felt it was a fair review, but it went further.
He also wanted to give others involved in the rounding by contract or by other means, fair notice when changes are about to happen, so that they are not surprised by an action during a meeting. He felt those lines of communication should remain open, but there were disagreements with other board members. The issues did not involve decisions about personnel, he said.
“When we make a change, we owe them the respect for giving them that advice,” Fitzpatrick said.
From now on, it looks like everyone wants to move forward with Borough business.
“Kevin’s value to the board is in no way diminished by our vote for the reorganization,” said Berger. “We are a group of seven people, each bringing their own knowledge and experience. Each member has an equal voice in all matters.
Fitzpatrick said he would stay on the board and stay involved in its affairs. His values have not changed, he says.
“I’m just going to do my best,” he said.
Reorganizations happen regularly at January meetings, but the Bloomfield meeting was canceled last month due to COVID-19 exhibitions that closed the borough building, too.
The Board did not choose a president pro tempore, the person who would lead the meetings if the president and vice-president were absent. During the last reorganization in January 2020, that person was Smith.
In another point of reorganization, the council approved the hiring of Salzmann Hughes’ lawyers in Chambersburg as new district lawyers, replacing Randall Zimmerman who has been the lawyer since 2019.
The water authority plans to replace the water lines on half of Maple Lane from Apple Street soon, and then repair the roads when the project is complete, said Ed Albright, the authority’s chairman.
He also took stock of the new filtration plant at the east end of town, saying the building is closed and work continues on the interior fittings. He expected the pumps and filtration equipment to be shipped and installed soon.
The authority was on schedule for the installation to be completed by the fall, he said.
Dum said the lights the borough sold to residents over Christmas raised $ 703 for the Bloomfield-Center-Carroll pool on Chestnut Street.
The borough is looking for other funding opportunities to support the pool in the future and anyone wishing to help can contact the borough office, he said.
Jim T. Ryan can be contacted by email at [email protected]