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Former state House Rep. Frank Ryan spoke to the Cornwall Borough Council at Monday’s meeting regarding an ongoing franchise agreement with Comcast set to renew in March.

Ryan, a Republican, represented the 101st legislative district from 2017 to 2022.

Cornwall has a franchise agreement with Comcast, from which it receives 5 percent of Comcast’s gross bills to residents, township manager Cody Rhoads said. Council President Bruce Harris said last year’s total was $114,000.

Council members Bruce Harris, Beth Yocum, Bruce Conrad and Ron Ricard listen to Frank Ryan’s concerns.

Comcast passes on a monthly franchise fee to customers totaling $6.75, or $81 yearly, Ryan said. He suggested that the borough request that Comcast audit local earnings, as he claimed to estimate that Comcast’s franchise fees on Cornwall residents surpass $200,000 total.

Ryan said he also hopes to work with the state Auditor General to audit Comcast statewide.

“That’s why I retired, so I had time to fix Comcast,” Ryan joked.

The 1984 Cable Act requires cable companies to maintain franchise agreements with municipalities in order to sell to individuals living in that municipality.

Ryan noted that the law applies to cable providers such as Verizon and Comcast but does not affect non-cable services such as FiOS. Comcast is the only provider that is currently franchised to work in Cornwall, but the agreement is not exclusive.

He also encouraged Cornwall to post the franchise agreement publicly for transparency, as it is not currently available on the borough’s website.

While no action has been taken at this time, council asked the solicitor to review the agreement and explore their options, including potentially reaching out to Verizon or another cable provider for a second franchise agreement to increase market competition.

Also Monday, council reviewed the final budget report for 2022. As of the end of December, Cornwall’s revenues totaled $3,182,628.22 and expenses totaled $2,637,422.60. Both amounts were budgeted at $2,769,684.14.

Mayor Mark Thomas and council members Thomas Burton, Al Brandt, and John Karinch (remotely), and township manager Cody Rhoads listen to the budget report.

In past meetings, the council has noted that it tends to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues to avoid going over budget. This year’s expected revenues and expenses are $3,105,062.05.

Read More: Cornwall council passes 2023 budget, joins regional comprehensive plan

In other news, council:

  • Announced that the water and sewer committees have been in discussion with West Cornwall regarding a potential Joint Authority, but noted that this is still in a preliminary phase.
  • Unanimously authorized an agreement with CLSD for the lease of the bus garage property. The lease is $1 yearly, but the borough will take on the property’s maintenance. Level of garage use permitted by the borough is still in negotiation.
  • Unanimously authorized the release of Cornwall Manor’s letter of credit, totaling close to $220,000.
  • Unanimously authorized a time extension for Cornwall Manor Apartments.
  • Unanimously authorized a stormwater management agreement for a planned property at 390A Rexmont Road.
  • Unanimously agreed to resolution 2023-1, concerning Act 57 which requires townships to waive late penalties for property taxes during the first year of ownership if property owners can provide proof they did not receive their bill.
  • Unanimously agreed to resolution 2023-2 concerning the disposition of records.
  • Unanimously reappointed Kathy Sanderson for another six-year term in the Civil Service Commission.
  • Unanimously approved reports including the secretary’s, water and sewer, and highway department (available in Monday’s agenda PDF).
  • Unanimously approved its Dec. 12 meeting minutes (PDF).

Cornwall Borough Council meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public and do not require prior registration.

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article referenced the “township” on several occasions. These references should have been to the “borough.” LebTown sincerely regrets the error.

Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.


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