Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

November 19, 2001


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting December 12, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 11/19/01:  Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 11/19/01 work session.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.


Members Present: Steve Sanderlin, Chairman; Tom Jirele, Vice Chairman; Richard Weaver, Member; Steve Harris, Solicitor; Bob Pellegrino, Township Manager, Elaine Gibbs, Finance Director.

Also Present: Anne Goren; Vince Lombardi; Elinor Campbell and Terry McLean, HARB; Bob Williams; Rick Stallard, Blue Moon Construction.

Call to Order:  

Chairman Sanderlin called the meeting to order at 7:18 PM.

Announcements

Mr. Pellegrino reported that the township had received $260,000 reimbursement from PennDOT for the Newtown Trail. Application #5 is to be submitted. A meeting is being set up with PennDOT; supplemental #1 has been submitted and approved by the state. They will ask PennDOT to lobby the feds to have the supplemental agreements funded.

Mr. Pellegrino said that PECO is planning to put a level course on Sycamore Street tomorrow to improve the surface. The street will stay open.

Mr. Sanderlin said that the website for First Night is up and running, and will be the place to check for the most current information. The website address is firstnightnewtown.com.

St. Andrew’s Rectory – Vince Lombardi

Ms. Campbell said Vince Lombardi has offered to move the rectory to his property up the street. She said that the HARB supports this action.

Mr. Lombardi presented an old site plan, never approved, that subdivided his property and showed plans for a new building. The plan illustrated the possible layout of the rectory on the property, using a template of the footprint of the rectory drawn to scale with the plan. The rectory appeared to fit the area that had been designated for the new building. Mr. Lombardi said that Ms. Campbell and Terry McLean have been working with him and with township officials, including Mr. Pellegrino.

Mr. Lombardi said that Rick Stallard of Blue Moon construction would be the contractor. He, Mr. McLean and Ms. Campbell met with Father Picard today and Father Picard had a few concerns. Father Picard has submitted a request to the archdiocese for approval of the transfer of the rectory, but he hasn’t received a reply as of yet. The rectory is currently under the 60-day demolition arrangement, and Mr. Lombardi said he would like to have it extended to cover the transfer of the building. He needs additional information from the mover. The mover is from Lancaster and has a good reputation, and will be moving the Spread Eagle Inn. Mr. Lombardi is awaiting a proposal from him in writing.

Mr. Lombardi said that the building can be moved and financial arrangements to do so can be made. The cost of rehab will be extensive; the lead paint problem eliminates the possibility of restoring the building down to the wood. Mr. Lombardi said he has checked out the site, and that Mr. Pellegrino has met with Bill Brady from PECO, who should have an estimate for the cost of moving wires by next week. After that there would be a more detailed review and firming up of the cost. Mr. Lombardi said that Sunday might be a good day to move the building, which would probably take one day. Telephone and cable need to be coordinated and several traffic standards would probably need to be moved.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the estimated cost to move the building is $25,000 to $30,000, and he has been speaking to PECO regarding a private/township partnership. He is hopeful that PECO could fund some of the moving costs.

Mr. Harris asked if there were any code compliance issues. Mr. Lombardi noted that historic buildings are ADA exempt. There are four rooms on the third floor and seven on the second floor; a business will go on the first floor. He said that the third floor could not be utilized alone due to fire safety issues, but could be used with the second floor. There are bathrooms on all levels; the porch will be removed from the front.

Mr. Lombardi said he thought that the rectory building would be a nice addition to Sycamore Street. Ms. Campbell said that there would be a façade easement to protect it. Mr. Lombardi said it would be helpful financially to get a tax credit. Mr. Harris noted that the land development plan Mr. Lombardi presented was never approved; the township might assist with this.

Mr. Jirele moved to authorize Mr. Sanderlin to send a letter of support from the Board of Supervisors for Mr. Lombardi’s project to move the rectory. Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously. Mr. Sanderlin will compose the letter.

Mr. Lombardi said that a waiver of EDU would be advantageous, as this really involves a transfer of water and sewer service further down on the same lines.Mr. Pellegrino will investigate. Mr. Sanderlin said that the township would be glad to assist Mr. Lombardi with contacts and with speaking to PECO and others. Ms. Campbell reiterated for the record that HARB supports this project.

Application for a Keller Williams Sign

Ruth Bruestle and Richard Crawford appeared. Mr. Crawford said that the sign plan had been revised to measure 39 square feet. The auto repair and auto service signs are the same size as before. A ½ oval with logo was added to the top of the sign to make it more attractive. The posts would be painted grey brown to somewhat match the trees, and the sign would be internally illuminated, which is permitted. Mr. Crawford said that the sign could be wooden.

Mr. Sanderlin suggested that the half oval on top be eliminated to help reduce the size of the sign. Mr. Crawford said it had been added to accommodate the Keller Williams logo and increase the attractiveness of the sign. Mr. Sanderlin asked if the Zoning Hearing Board would object. He said he has no objection to the sign’s design and would be willing to leave the matter up to the ZHB. He said, however, that he would like to see a condition that if other tenants move into the building and wish to be included on the sign then the sign must be modified, without increasing the total square footage. Mr. Harris noted that the landlord would have to approve such a condition and would require a letter from the landlord to the ZHB to that effect. He noted that any variance would be attached to the property.

Mr. Jirele said he would prefer the elimination of the spheres on the posts and the half oval on top; he thought the sign was too big. He noted that this property is in a mixed residential/commercial area, and that the proposed size was nearly twice the size and higher than the ordinances allow. He suggested that, by eliminating the logo, the same size lettering could be used on a smaller sign. Mr. Pellegrino suggested moving the street numbers to the top of the sign and removing the half circle on the top and the spheres on the posts to significantly reduce the sign’s square footage.

There was no consensus of the board. The issue will appear again next Wednesday at the next board meeting.

Review of 2002 Budget

Ms. Gibbs reported that the donations to the Wrightstown and Newtown libraries had been reduced to $5,000, and that First Night, First Fourth and Council Rock Senior Center had been reduced as well. Mr. Sanderlin said he thought that the libraries needed additional funding.

Ms. Gibbs said that the Making a Difference program had been budgeted at $10,000, and said that Mr. Goodnoe felt it could be $8,000. Ms. Goren suggested making the daylong program shorter to save money. There was discussion regarding the cost. Mr. Jirele suggested reducing the budget to $5,000.

Mr. Pellegrino said that he didn’t think that the PCLM membership (400 317), which costs $4,700, benefited the township very much since it focused more on big cities, and said it could be eliminated.

Mr. Harris suggested that “Legal Services-Environmental” (404 307) should be changed to “Professional Service – Land Acquisition.” This item included issues such as the appraisals on the Preston property, the Linton Hill culvert, the Melsky Tract, and the Dolington land challenge. He said that about $5,000 had been spent this year to date, and that the budget could be reduced to $15,000.

Ms. Gibbs noted that the township carries general liability on the Acme building, but that the policy will need to be expanded to carry fire, increasing the cost of insurance. HA Thompson has suggested going under separate cover, then looking for a new insurance company. Mr. Harris reported that he had spoken to the attorney and that the owner would keep insurance on the building for a reasonable period of time until the township picks up the expense. Ms. Gibbs said that the insurance company doesn’t want to carry the policy because it is unusual for the tenant to carry coverage. Estimated insurance annually is about $3,500. Mr. Jirele said the board would need to make the Acme a high priority early in the next year. Mr. Sanderlin noted that if the township owned the building the insurance would not be an issue. Ms. Gibbs said she had added lease expenses for the Acme building of $16,000 in taxes and $5,800 for the lease into the department #409 budget.

Ms. Gibbs discussed revenue v. expenditures. She said that revenues of $597,000 were projected to go into the reserve fund, which included $400,000 for a storage building. Ms. Gibbs said that the storage building costs needs to be considered part of the building expansion project. She said that in the proposed budget there is an estimated shortfall of $650,000, which would need to come from the reserve fund. If the township used the reserve fund, it would bring the reserve fund below $1M; Ms. Gibbs said that the board would need to look at funding from the General Fund. Mr. Pellegrino said that long range planning was necessary, as the downward spiral in reserves needs to slow. He and Ms. Gibbs will project out revenues for the next five years early in 2002. He said that they would consolidate capital projects, prioritizing them and developing a time line. Ms. Gibbs clarified that the estimated reserves at the end of next year is $1M to $1.4M.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the township might need to assume $250,000 in additional costs for the Newtown Trail. He said that originally PennDOT approved $464,000 for the trail. The bid came in at $638,000, including inspections and additional design work. The supplemental agreement was approved by PennDOT, and was submitted to the federal government in October. Mr. Pellegrino said he was reasonably sure that this would be approved. The township will pay 20% of the cost. Actually, $765,000 has been spent, higher because of design issues and construction problems. The township is now awaiting federal response; they approved the initial grant, and there is some question as to whether they would also approve the supplemental grant. Mr. Pellegrino will meet with Andrew Warren. Anne Goren, involved in the original grant application, will give pertinent paperwork to Mr. Pellegrino.

Mr. Jirele asked about an appropriate figure for the reserve fund balance. Ms. Gibbs said that the reserve fund should equal 5% of the budget. She said that the reserve fund is now in line with revenue projections for income tax. Codes Department costs are higher, particularly in items such as building permits. Any excess would have to come from Earned Income Tax and the General Fund. Ms. Gibbs said she would let the board know how the budget looks.

Ms. Gibbs noted that the Capital Projects Fund includes projects costing more than $25,000, and that smaller capital expenses are noted within department budgets. Mr. Jirele asked if major cuts needed to be made to the capital projects budget. Ms. Gibbs suggested that there are items whose costs could be transferred to the liquid fuels fund, such streetlights.

Ms. Gibbs has projected that $650,000 will go forward into the General Fund. Mr. Pellegrino said the township needed to do some long range planning, but that this was not crucial to this year’s proposed budget. Mr. Sanderlin said it was mostly a matter of prioritization and searching for fund sources. Mr. Pellegrino said he would like to see a planning session for the purposes of goal setting and prioritization.

Ms. Gibbs said that Mr. Wert has developed a schedule to finish Roberts Ridge Park. $125,000 has been put aside, which would cover walkways, a gazebo, and picnic tables; it would not cover a restroom pavilion. Mr. Pellegrino suggested that some projects at the park might be eliminated or postponed. It was suggested that the construction of the restroom pavilion be postponed to 2003, for a savings of $60,000. Ms. Gibbs noted that in another township bricks were sold to fund a gazebo. The cost of trees at the park should be funded by grants.

Ms. Gibbs noted that the Municipal Impact expenditure (438 110) on page 27 labeled Recreation (Open Space Transfer) was for the interest on the Wiggins Loan.

Mrs. Gibbs encouraged the board to call her anytime to run figures, provide information or answer questions regarding the budget.

Capital Projects Funding – Fire Association

Mr. Sanderlin said that the Fire Association needs a long-term plan. Mr. Pellegrino noted that the township is now funding $80,000 annually for equipment, to end in 2002. Mr. Pellegrino reviewed the handout from the Fire Association detailing the five options for equipment funding through 2012. Mr. Sanderlin noted that the Fire Association could request funding through a referendum.

Ms. Gibbs said that the fire companies would be under pressure for increased terrorist training, and their insurance costs will be greatly increased; they are looking for increased funding. She said that the Fire Association would like to speak with the board, and hopefully get board approval or increased millage to be put on a referendum. Mr. Pellegrino said this would be a more secure funding source. Mr. Jirele agreed that they should look for a referendum. Mr. Harris suggested they come in to speak to the board in January. The consensus of the board was to ask the Fire Association to come to a regular board meeting, in January, to request a referendum. Ms. Gibbs noted that one mil would secure a good annual income for the Fire Association.

Other Business – Administrative Matters

Ms. Goren said she thought it was important that the Planning Commission have an attorney present at all of the meetings attended by developers, since developers have their attorneys with them. Mr. Sanderlin and Mr. Jirele agreed. Ms. Goren suggested that $10,000 be added to the budget to cover this cost. Mr. Harris said that they wouldn’t charge the township for attendance at the meetings or discussions; this cost would be charged back to the applicants, and would be covered by escrow. He said his office is always under the budgeted amount. Ms. Gibbs said she would like to keep the same budget for that line item and see what history shows.

Ms. Goren said that she would like to see a legal defense fund, which she felt would discourage lawsuits from developers. Mr. Harris said the township has positioned itself well to avoid future challenges, since over the last ten years the township and jointure have successfully fought unreasonable situations. He said he thought that the township was not regarded as a patsy. Ms. Gibbs said that perhaps a legal defense fund should be suggested to the Jointure.

Mr. Pellegrino said that Dave Jones from Wrightstown Township called him to ask if the township would be interested in interlocal police services to Wrightstown. Mr. Pellegrino asked if the board were interested in this service. Mr. Sanderlin said that this could be advantageous for coverage and increased services to the township. Mr. Pellegrino said that he has experience with this; he will meet with Wrightstown to gather additional information and report back to the board.

Employee Bonds

Mr. Pellegrino said that the bond on the township manager had been increased from $1M to $2M in 1998. Ms. Gibbs said she didn’t know the reason for the increase, since the township would only collect for embezzlement and the manager has no check writing rights. She suggested that the township manager be bonded for $1M and that the Finance Director be bonded for $1M. It was clarified that the board treasurer is bonded for $3M and the assistant treasurer is bonded for $1.5M. Mr. Pellegrino felt that the bonds were very expensive; he and Ms. Gibbs will investigate.

Mr. Jirele moved that the township bond the township manager for $1M and the Finance Director for $1M. Mr. Weaver seconded the motion; the motion carried unanimously.

ICMA - Change in Eligibility Requirements

Mr. Pellegrino said that he has contacted ICMA regarding the 401 Plan change of eligibility requirements, which would allow management personnel to invest in another deferred compensation plan. He was told that the township needed to send a letter to ICMA to request such a change.

Mr. Jirele moved to authorize a letter be sent from the board to ICMA requesting the change in eligibility requirements as adopted in Section V, 1 of the plan agreement. Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Meeting Dates for January, November, December 2002

Cash Reserve Adjustments

Mr. Jirele moved to approve the cash reserve adjustments as outlined in the memo dated July/November, 2001. Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Police Department Chaplain

There was discussion about the proposal from Judith C. Joseph, M.A., M.Div. regarding volunteer support services for emergency personnel. The board felt that she should be appointed as police chaplain at a regular board meeting. Mr. Sanderlin suggested that, unless someone had been asked to give the invocation at the next public meeting for a special reason, Ms. Joseph be asked to give the invocation at the next regular board meeting.

Adjournment

On motion by Mr. Weaver, the meeting was adjourned at 10:06 pm. The board went into executive session to discuss issues of litigation and personnel.

 

Respectfully Submitted by:___________________________________
                                        Leslie Dunleavy, Recording Secretary 11/27/01