Board of Supervisors
Minutes of May 12, 2010
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on May 12, 2010 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman, Robert Ciervo, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman and Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher, members. Also present were: Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order: Chairman Robert Ciervo called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence and an invocation by Reverend Paul Chreiman of Newtown United Methodist Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that a correction to the fuel bids has been added to the Manager’s Report.
Presentation of MADD Award: Wilma Woodrow of Mothers Against Drunk Driving was in attendance to present an award to Officers Daniel Bartle and Paul Deppi for their outstanding work in enforcement of DUI. Sergeant Robert Matthews filled in for Officer Deppi, who was unavailable this evening. Ms. Woodrow also presented a commendation from Congressman Patrick Murphy. She thanked Officers Bartle and Deppi and the Newtown Township Police Department for their work to help end drunk driving.
Ms. Woodrow explained that MADD works to promote awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated and to work with victims who have been injured or lost a loved one from an auto accident involving a drunk driver. She pointed out that many arrested for this offence are repeat offenders and it is estimated that many have driven while intoxicated seventy or more times before they are caught. MADD attempts to raise awareness through programs including pre-prom educational sessions. For additional information call 800-948-8233 or visit www.maddpa.org.
Mr. Calabro thanked Ms. Woodrow and the officers for their work to prevent drunk driving. He noted that the Pennsylvania State Police issues 16900 DUI tickets a year or 46 per day.
Public Comment: Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that thirty residents of Newtown Township and Borough participated in the recent Newtown Creek clean up day. Waitkus Design provided a chain saw to remove fallen trees, the Heritage Conservancy helped to identify invasive species to be removed and Leck & Son provided a dumpster. Council Rock High School’s Environmental Club also participated in the event.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of April 28, 2010. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $179,617.87. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher noted payment to Verizon for cell phones and asked about current use.
Mr. Czajkowski said that Township has reduced the number of cell phones provided to employees. The bill includes air cards used by EMS and police for use of computers in cars.
Dr. Ciervo asked about a bill from St. Mary’s Hospital for annual physicals.
Mr. Czajkowski said that this bill was for EMS employees’ annual exams, which the Township provides to both EMS and Police, as the jobs require the physicals.
Mr. Calabro asked about the Township’s current fuel consumption.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the use is tabulated by a computer system. There has been a cutback in use of take-home cars. The current use is under budget but the amount fluctuates with the changing price of gas.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that the restroom at Roberts Ridge recently opened. He asked when that $51,000 would appear on the bills list.
Mr. Czajkowski said the BioSun system had been purchased in December.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $360,000 for payroll. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman: Dr. Ciervo reminded residents in voting district #8 that the polling place has been relocated to the Township Administration Building for the primary election on May 18, 2010.
Dr. Ciervo announced that the “green” restroom at Roberts Ridge Park was officially opened on May 8, 2010 with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by County Commissioner James Cawley. He thanked Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andy Levine and the entire Park and Recreation Board for the work done to bring the first such restroom to a public park in the County. The restroom will use no water, sewer or electricity as it is a solar powered composting toilet.
TCC Collection Status: Mr. Gallagher reported that the County has formed a committee to make a required change in tax collection procedures so that each county in the state has one tax collector for earned income taxes. Here in Bucks County, 92% of municipalities are already using Berkheimer. It is hoped that there might be some savings when all of the local municipalities use one collection service. Newtown currently pays Berkheimer 1.9%.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Gallagher explained that the state is requiring that all municipalities make the change to single collector by 2012. A request for proposals was issued last week. The committee will rate responses and conduct interviews of the top respondents. It is hoped that the committee will make recommendations by September 15, 2010.
Mr. Gallagher said that a computerized address system is used which has been shown to be accurate in attributing the appropriate taxes collected to each municipality, including collections from addresses which border two municipalities. DCED has issued a best practices document which will be used to compare responses to the RFP. The collector will have a separate audit to determine that each municipality receives its correct share of taxes collected. All information from this audit will be shared with our own Township auditors. Our elected tax collector will continue to collect property taxes. There has been some concern about when to make the change, as school districts are on a fiscal year of July through June.
Newtown Corporation: Interim Executive Director Paul Salvatore was in attendance to give an update on Newtown Corporation. He thanked the Board for its support through the years. He said that prior to the meeting he had provided Board members with an accounting of Newtown Corporation. Mr. Salvatore said that in recent years the Board has requested that Newtown Corporation expand its mission to promoting the entire business community of both the Township and Borough, which it is attempting to do. A new Web site, www.allaboutnewtown.org has recently been launched, which features a directory of over 500 businesses. Newtown Corporation has been working with the Newtown Business Commons Association with a focus on economic development, aiming to fill vacancies in the Commons. This is a changed focus from the former Joint Downtown Newtown Association, which had as its mission the promotion of the “main streets,” State and Sycamore Streets.
Mr. Salvatore spoke briefly of some upcoming events aimed at bringing people into Newtown, including a wine festival, Newtown Uncorked, a street festival in June, Welcome Day, Memorial Day parade and old-timers softball game and First Fourth. Detailed information on each event is available on the Web site and Newtown Corporation has taken ads in local papers promoting the events. Newtown Corporation is also working with the Bucks County Visitors Bureau to promote these events.
Mr. Salvatore said that moving forward Newtown Corporation will be working with SCORE, seeking its guidance on a number of marketing and promotional matters, including a video to be used as part of relocation packets for businesses considering a move to Newtown.
Mr. Salvatore said that a letter had recently been sent to both the Borough and Township stating that Newtown Corporation would not be accepting the financial contributions budgeted this year. Newtown Corporation’s goal is to become an asset rather than a burden to the residents and taxpayers.
Mr. Benchener said that while he commends Newtown Corporation’s ongoing efforts to promote Newtown economically, he is concerned about the Township’s ability to appoint members to the Newtown Corporation’s Board of Directors.
Mr. Salvatore said that Newtown Corporation will continue to look to the Township Supervisors for recommendations for appointments. Newtown Corporation is eager for appointees who will work to promote Newtown. He pointed out that Newtown Corporation has served as an umbrella for a number of smaller endeavors, including the American Legion, Little League and the recently formed Skate Park Committee. He said that Restaurant Week was able to raise about $1000 for the skate park.
Mr. Schenkman questioned the accounting provided to the Board.
Mr. Salvatore confirmed that although the Township has made contributions of $20,000 each year to the Borough’s $5000, the Borough has received $86,743.80 in façade grants while the Township has received $17,269.06. The ledger is available for the Supervisor liaison to review at each NC Board meeting.
Mr. Schenkman asked about strategic planning, training and the executive director search.
Mr. Salvatore said that both training and strategic planning would be discussed with SCORE which does offer help in both these areas. The Board members are beginning to discuss the executive director search, but have some concerns about the recent negative press the organization has gotten. Tim Potero has been doing most of the research on this.
Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Schenkman provided the names of a number of professional organizations and publications which might be helpful. Mr. Schenkman asked about Newtown Corporation’s treasury procedures.
Mr. Salvatore said that new procedures have been instituted, with treasurer Paul Blancato writing any checks and Robert Small and Associates doing the organization’s accounting. He will provide a treasurer’s report to the Board.
Mr. Benchener and Dr. Ciervo each reviewed the history of spending by Newtown Corporation and expressed dismay that the Borough had received over $922,000 in benefits over the years while the Township has only received $17,269 in façade grants.
Mr. Salvatore said that there has been recent criticism that the focus has been changed and not enough is being done for Borough businesses, however, it is the opinion of Newtown Corporation that the efforts have expanded beyond the Borough without diminishing efforts within the Borough. In recent months Newtown Corporation has been working closely with Newtown Business Commons Association and Sycamore Street Community Association. There have been discussions with TMA on a lunchtime shuttle service between the Business Commons and the shopping centers.
Mr. Gallagher noted that when initially founded JDNC’s goal was to revitalize the downtown area, which has been accomplished. Dick Weaver had suggested combining the Economic Development Council with JDNC to focus on bringing new businesses as well as people (customers/patrons) to Newtown. This goes beyond the original mission.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like to see Newtown Corporation work to fill vacancies in all of the business districts, working with prospective companies to find appropriate space and to help them through the approval process.
Mr. Calabro said that he is concerned that if the Township no longer makes appointments to the Newtown Corporation, directors’ terms would be extended indefinitely.
Mr. Salvatore said that it is his understanding that each director would be appointed for a specific term, as would be required to retain the organization’s non-profit tax status.
Mr. Calabro asked about the recent use of the Newtown Corporation’s logo on some political campaign materials.
Mr. Salvatore said that such a use could damage Newtown Corporation’s non-profit status as a non-political organization. It should not have happened; it was done without the approval of the Board of Directors. The logo is copyrighted and cannot be used without permission.
Mr. Calabro asked about a reference to Brewfest as an event to promote the architectural protection of Newtown Borough.
Mr. Salvatore was unaware of this and would investigate further.
Mr. Benchener said that if the bylaws are changed to make Newtown Corporation completely independent of the Township he would like the Township to recoup some of the funds already invested in Newtown Corporation.
Mr. Salvatore said that the revision of the Bylaws would be discussed at the next Board of Directors meeting.
Reports of Officials
2010 Roadway Improvement Program: Ms. Fountain said that CKS Engineers is recommending Harris Blacktopping, a the low bidder, for the 2010 roadway program.
Dr. Ciervo said that there is $120,000 difference between Harris and the high bidder. He asked why such a large gap.
Ms. Fountain said that CKS is seeing many very competitive bids from Harris in other municipalities. Harris is eager for the work.
Mr. Schenkman moved to award the 2010 Roadway Improvement Program to Harris Blacktopping for $239,478.75. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Ms. Fountain said that the program includes work on Linton hill Road, Wexley Drive, Walnut Avenue and Frost Lane. Work should begin in late June.
The motion passed 5-0.
Penns Trail North Traffic Calming: Mr. Czajkowski provided the Board with the traffic engineer’s recommendations for temporary traffic calming on Penns Trail North which includes post mounted signs, removal of pavement markings and painting of traffic zones, raised pavement markers and flexible delineator posts for a total cost of $9,769.65. The Public Works Department is reviewing the recommended work to determine whether any could be done in-house for some savings.
In response to Mr. Benchener’s questions, Mr. Czajkowski said that this would be paid from the TSA funds.
Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize the Township administration to implement the temporary traffic calming measures recommend by the traffic engineer. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman asked about making the traffic calming measures permanent.
Mr. Czajkowski said that at the end of the six-month period a second traffic study would be conducted to evaluate whether the measures have been effective. If the temporary posts are removed they can be installed elsewhere in the Township as needed.
Mr. Garton said that if the Board approves the temporary measures he will notify the homeowners association of the plans.
Resident Tim Szwedo, a member of the Joint Traffic Committee and a professional traffic engineer, said that he has visited the site and noted that no homes front the Upper Silver Lake roadway. The road is operating as designed. Looking ahead, he urged the Board to carefully consider how roads are designed so that roads do not have to be revisited with traffic calming measures. The average speed has been about 38 MPH, so the correct speed limit should be between 35 and 40 MPH. The four way stop sign which was installed to calm traffic is unwarranted. Drivers roll through or speed after going through to make up for lost time. He suggested that most users of the road are residents of the community. Instead of the four-way stop, the Township should step up enforcement of the speed limit. He was opposed to using taxpayer funds to correct a road which is functioning as it should.
Dr. Ciervo said that when the road was planned it was expected that a business park would have been built on Upper Silver Lake Road. It has since been developed as residential. The traffic calming will be paid by developer traffic impact fees.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the traffic engineer consider whether the four way sign should be removed as part of the temporary traffic calming or in the future.
Mr. Benchener noted that although no homes front Upper Silver Lake Road where the traffic calming is being considered, the residents feel it is unsafe for children who wait for school buses and walk through the neighborhood. The traffic calming was part of the plan to vacate a portion of Upper Silver Lake Road.
The motion passed 5-0.
Police Report: Chief Henry Pasqualini was in attendance to review the Police activity for the past month. He announced that a ceremony and mass for fallen police in the County will be on May 24, 2010 at St. Andrew’s Church.
The Police responded to 1679 calls last month, including one arson, two DUI’s one fire arms use, seven drug investigations and six burglaries. He urged residents to phone the police if they see any suspicious activities in their neighborhoods. He also noted nine instances of criminal mischief which involved shooting bb guns into vehicle windows.
Mr. Calabro asked whether the Department would respond to anonymous tips.
Chief Pasqualini said that the Department understands that some residents are reluctant to give their names, but that they do respond to all calls. He suggested phoning the radio room after business hours at 215-348-7400 if you have a concern to report.
Pension Fund RFP: Mr. Garton said that he has reviewed the RFP for a pension fund investment consultant, making changes to comply with the recently adopted Act 44.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that “financial planning committee” be added whenever “pension committee” is mentioned in the document.
Mr. Benchener asked that on page 15, Option A, which states, “The fixed fee for each consulting service listed in the “Scope of Services” set forth above, based on a 1 year, 2 year and 3 year contract. No additional charges will be allowed”, be removed, so that only option “B” is offered.
Mr. Schenkman agreed with this. He also asked that on page 15, item 3 the first two sentences be removed so that it reads “Additional services will be contracted on a prior written approval basis only by the Township.”
The members agreed that all additional services be approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Benchener moved to authorize advertisement of the request for proposals for pension fund investment services as amended. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Motor Fuel and Heating Oil Bids: Mr. Czajkowski said that a typo on the previous fuel bids would require the Board to vacate the award and accept the bid of ISO Bunkers, LLC for posted price plus $0.0054 per gallon delivery charge for unleaded gas.
Mr. Schenkman moved to vacate the previous award given at the meeting of April 28, 2010 and accept the bid of ISO Bunkers, LLC for posted price plus $0.0054 per gallon delivery for unleaded gas. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Garton reported that the Board had met in executive session for 30 minutes prior to this evening’s meeting to discuss potential and pending litigation.
Ordinance – Extension of the Joint Municipal Authority, Authorization to Advertise: Mr. Garton explained that the charter of the Newtown Joint Municipal Authority will expire in 2011. The Authority is requesting that the Board adopt a resolution extending the term an additional fifty years. The Authority has adopted a resolution requesting the fifty year extension. The Authority has owned and operated the public sewer system for fifty years. There is no sewage treatment facility.
Mr. Benchener questioned the fifty year commitment.
Mr. Gallagher said that some municipalities manage the sewers themselves.
Mr. Garton explained that if the Board does not extend the charter, the assets and liabilities would be distributed. It is possible to extend for a shorter term. The Township and Borough have the authority to adopt an ordinance dissolving the Authority.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to learn more about this. He asked that Warren Gormley, Executive Director, be invited to an upcoming work session.
Mr. Calabro asked the Township Manager to provide the Board with information on municipalities which operate their own sewer authorities.
Mr. Garton said that there are several options. He would provide additional information on Lower Makefield, Bensalem and Middletown.
Mr. Schenkman suggested postponing the authorization to advertise until the Board has reviewed the options available.
Mr. Gallagher reminded the Board that some time ago he had asked about a streamlined process for residential applications to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Garton said that the staff has discussed this and together recommend that the staff will provide the Board with copies of Zoning Hearing Board applications when they are received. If two Board members have concerns or if the Planning Commission, after its review, recommends that the Board oppose an application, the applicant will be invited to the Board of Supervisors meeting for further review. Otherwise the applicant will go directly to the Zoning Hearing Board.
The Board agreed to Mr. Garton’s suggestion.
Mr. Gallagher asked the Board to consider a grand opening celebration for the new building some time in June.
The Board agreed to a dedication ceremony.
Dr. Ciervo asked for an update on the funds remaining from the municipal complex bonds in order to plan for the police department renovations. Thee are still decisions to be made on the major renovations.
Mr. Czajkowski said that between $400,000 and $500,000 remains in the account. The Police Chief would like to do some minimal changes to the administrative offices of the department involving some construction and new carpeting for about $12,000.
Mr. Garton reminded the Board that the bond funds must be used for capital projects of to pay down the principal.
Mr. Schenkman noted that the police department will need significant improvements in order to be certified.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize renovations to the police administrative area for $9880 for construction and $3073 for carpeting. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher asked whether the funds from the County had been received for the Rockbridge property.
Mr. Czajkowski said that check for $157,000 is expected within the week. It will be added to the Park and Recreation Capital Fund.
Mr. Benchener said that he had a complaint from a resident whose $100 mailbox was damaged by Public Works while plowing the snow. The Township has a current policy of reimbursing up to $50. He asked the Board to consider altering the policy.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the reimbursement is a courtesy to residents. The mailboxes are in the right-of-way. He urged the Board to be cautious in considering a change in policy to damage by municipal workers in the right-of-way.
Mr. Garton said that while residents are required to have their mailboxes in the right-of-way, he also advised caution in altering the policy, as claims to damaged mailboxes or to landscaping could become very costly.
Mr. Schenkman said that he was reluctant to invite unnecessary claims although he does want the Township to be able to address an unusual occurrence. He favored leaving the policy in place.
As Mr. Benchener continued to urge the Board to amend the policy, Dr. Ciervo suggested that Mr. Benchener draft a new policy for the Board to discuss and consider.The meeting adjourned at 10:05 PM.