The Wilkes-Barre Township Volunteer Fire Department has a new lease on life
Treading water in the wake of scandal and financial struggles, including a recent state audit that revealed $150,000 in unpaid, undocumented loans, the department received a glimmer of relief when the council voted to assume the firehouse’s $75,767 mortgage at a special session Monday evening.
Unanimously approved by both the council and the fire department’s four-person executive board, the ordinance comes after the mortgage had been in default for nearly three years, according to Bruce Phillips, township attorney. Phillips said the township would also cover a $2,025 late charge.
The fire department will be provided a 50-year lease as long as they continue to operate as a fire department throughout the life of the agreement.
Councilman John Jablowski Jr., said council stepped in to help right the ship.
“Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and we’re trying to pick up the pieces here,” Jablowski said.
Joe Porzucek, a township resident and charter member of the fire department, said the council and Mayor Carl Kuren saved the fire department from falling into the ownership of a private bidder.
“If that mortgage is defaulted on and the bank puts that out for bids, and a stranger gets a hold of that fire department, they could run weddings and do what he wants over there,” Porzucek said.
Richard Hart, president of the fire department’s executive board, said the 50-year lease approved by council amounts to a landlord/tenant agreement between parties.
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