Sinking Spring officials approved in a nearly unanimous vote to "drop the PEL Study."

The study by the Pennsylvania Economic League would be the first step to a possible merge with a neighboring municipality such as the Township of Spring.

"The PEL Study has been over-publicized as the merger," said Sinking Spring Council President George Butkus. "The PEL Study is noting more than fact finding. It was greatly misunderstood that if we proceed with the study a merger was imminent. We do need to clarify for the public that if the study goes forward it does not mean we are going to merge."

Borough Secretary Regina Shade said last month that municipalities and school districts do PEL studies for a variety of reasons. She said the county-paid study would review the borough's accounting practices, street work, and tax base. Study results could recommend a change in procedures.

The two-year study period would be followed with the merger question being placed on the election ballot in four years.

Council Member Lawrence Schmidt cast the opposing vote.

"We would be remiss if we didn't consider the study," said Schmidt. "[The study would indicate] how we could improve our own infrastructure and what we could do in-house."

Schmidt said the Twp. of Spring's trash and recycling service would be a benefit to the borough. Schmidt will provide council with those figures during the 2007 budget process.

"We passed a resolution to study the possibility of merging the three fire departments (Sinking Spring, Lower Heidelberg, and Wernersville)," said Council Member James Zerr. "That should be given a chance before proceeding with this and I feel very strongly about that at this point. I don't think the PEL Study is important now. The borough is very solvent and it would be a misjustice at this point."

Borough Engineer Robert Ludgate, Jr., agreed that Sinking Spring Borough has maintained a healthy and balanced tax base with commercial and industrial operations.

"I'd love to see Sinking Spring maintain its individuality," said Council Member Stewart Wenrich. "There are benefits with your tax dollar - you can depend on the police and fire departments. I don't want to see it (the individuality) lost in a larger conglomerate. That individuality comes with a price. Yes, it might be a cheaper to merge - combine some services."

Butkus said his perception is that the Twp. of Spring would work with Sinking Spring Borough, "But not work real hard because 'they're going to be a part of us anyway.' There is always a neighboring municipality."

"If the residents are happy, leave it as it is," said Council Member Bruce Light.

"I think we should forget about this for a while and get on with our business in Sinking Spring," said Mayor Clarence Noecker.

In other business, Zerr said the Route 422 Corridor Project is set to begin next spring. He said the biggest cost would be $200,000 to update the intersection light at Routes 724, 422, and Mull Avenue.

Council voted also to change its workshop meeting date from the fourth Wednesday to the third Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The meeting night change will begin with the January 18 workshop meeting.

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