Board of Supervisors
Minutes of November 2, 2011
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 in the Township meeting room at 6:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Robert Ciervo, Secretary/Treasurer, Jerry Schenkman and members Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher. Also in attendance were Township Manager Joseph Czajkowski, and Department Heads: Kathy Pawlenko, Parks and Recreation; Don Harris, Emergency Services; Chief Henry Pasqualini, Police Department and Ronald Weaver, Director of Inspections and Infrastructure Management and interim Public Works Director.
Call to Order
Chairman Ciervo called the meeting to order at 6:15 PM explaining the evening’s agenda. Under New Business, Planning Commission Chairman Allen Fidler would report on the Commission’s meeting of November 1, 2011. Mr. Czajkowski would then present the 2011 budget followed by questions from the Board and public comment.
Planning Commission Report: Mr. Fidler reported that at its November 1, 2011 meeting the Commission reviewed the application of 200 Sycamore Street LP (the Promenade) for zoning relief for development of a project consisting of two buildings, a single story 2,400 square foot building and a second building which will be three stories. The ground floor will have retail space for a total of 20,000 square feet combined, and the top two floors will have 26 one-bedroom rental apartments. The plan proposes 116 parking spaces where 152 are required. The Commission advised the applicant to prepare a comparison of the variances already granted in 2009 with changed/additional variance requests now being sought. It is our understanding that those variances granted in 2009 might still be in effect.
The Commission recommended that the Supervisors not oppose this application, as all are eager to see the property developed for the good of our business district. However, the Commission suggested that the Supervisors ask the Zoning Hearing Board to consider the following conditions to any variances granted:
Mr. Fidler explained that the Commission has great concern about parking and felt that restricting the uses to retail only, with no restaurants, could help with the shared parking concept for the mixed residential and retail use.
Mr. Gallagher asked if the applicant was agreeable to the suggested conditions.
Mr. Fidler explained that the applicant does not want to have parking problems, either. This would negatively impact business tenants and residents of the building. The applicants want the project to be an asset to the community. The Commission had some concern that the applicant referenced the availability of on-street parking, but we have had other recent applicants also include the same on-street parking spaces when seeking variances. The Commission pointed out that in addition to customers of other businesses competing for the on-street parking, customers of other businesses might use the parking lot at the rear of this project. The Commission strongly urged that some portion of the lot be set aside for the residents. The proposed parking lot will have reduced stall size but will have head-in, not angled, parking. The cartway widths are slightly reduced and the secondary access drive will be one-way and 12 feet wide.
Mr. Schenkman said that he had been at the Planning Commission meeting and agreed with the members’ concerns but had an additional concern that the restriction on restaurant use might become difficult to manage and enforce in later years, should new tenants attempt to apply for conditional use approvals in the future.
Mr. Calabro asked whether any locations were proposed for off-site employee parking for the retail businesses. He asked about the possible number of employees and about reserved tenant parking.
Mr. Fidler said that he did not know yet the number of employees; each retail use will have its own conditional use hearing. The applicant did not offer a plan for reserved tenant parking. The Commission suggested signage to restrict some spaces for residents only. The applicant discussed shared parking, with residents parking over-night and gone during the day, but the Commission had concerns about weekends and about residents who are home during the day.
Mr. Fidler said that the Commission discussed the height variance sought. The residential units will have individual air conditioning units on the roof and there was some concern that with only an additional two feet allowed for architectural features, it might be necessary to restrict the location of the mechanicals to screen them from view.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Commission report mentioned that the existing variances might still be in effect, however he believes new variances will be needed, as this is a different plan that the one for which variances had been previously granted. He asked about the impervious surface between this and the previous plan.
Mr. Fidler said that most of the variances listed on the application are the same as those granted in 2009. There is some change in the parking requests as the underground parking has been eliminated. He did not think that the plan needed impervious relief, as the site is already close to 100% impervious.
Dr. Ciervo said that the residential units might attract older adult couples who are downsizing. They would have two cars. He agreed with the Planning Commission that parking could be a concern.
The Supervisors agreed with the Planning Commission’s suggested conditions for approval, but did not want to vote on an action to send the solicitor, since this was not an advertised agenda item. The solicitor and representatives of the applicant were not in attendance.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he could forward the Planning Commission’s synopsis to Mr. Bolla, the Township’s solicitor on this matter, and ask him to speak to the Zoning Hearing Board’s solicitor. The covering letter would indicate that the Supervisors have seen the synopsis.
Mr. Czajkowski thanked the Supervisors and thanked the department heads for their input in preparing the budget. This budget proposes no increase in taxes. He explained that the proposed 2011 budget has been prepared in line item format in accordance with the Pennsylvania Chart of Accounts for local governments published by the State Department of Community and Economic Development. It is a bottom-up budget with detailed reviews of departmental budgets by the Township Manager and Finance Director, and includes the involvement of the volunteers on the Financial Planning Committee. The format continues the practice of separating Operating funds from Capital Funds. The Fund Balance (or reserve) is shown. The result of operations, comparing revenues with proposed expenditures is shown.
The 17 funds are divided as follows:
5 operating – General, Street Light, Fire Protection, Debt Service, Highway Aid (the Park and Recreation Fund was rolled into the Fund in 2009)
7 capital – Capital Projects, Recreation Capital, TSA 1, TSA 2, Traffic
System, Woll Site Improvement fund, Municipal Complex Improvement Fund
4 trust – Police Pension, Municipal Employees Pension, Firefighters
Pension, Benefit Obligation
$14,085,958 total budget appropriations are divided as follows :
Proposed Budget maintains municipal services at current levels
General Fund – Largest Operating Fund
Police– routine patrols, bike patrols, truck safety inspections, traffic enforcement, DARE education, house checks, bank checks, etc. (40% of budget)
Public Works – maintenance of roads (plowing, salting, sweeping, patching, striping), curb repairs, drainage system maintenance, and traffic control signs, traffic signals, street lights, building & facilities maintenance, fire hydrant maintenance
Emergency Services - BLS, fire suppression, fire education, fire safety inspections, emergency management
Zoning Administration/Code Enforcement – Land development & ZHB application processing, Construction and Use Permits,
Parks and Recreations – Includes the maintenance of all Township park facilities, coordination of facility use with various sports leagues, operation of 3 summer camps, and 900 programs with nearly 4000 participants.
Board and Commission Services– Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, ZHB, EAC, HARB, Joint Historic Commission, Joint Zoning Council
Support Services – Tax Collection, Legal & Engineering Services, finance & accounting, general administration, technology
Miscellaneous Costs – Property & Liability Insurance, Employee benefits
In 2012, we estimate 37 new dwelling units; (occupied total - 7,560)
From $375,000 to 225,000
There are 467 new housing units approved for construction in the next several years, though the current economy will have a detrimental effect on building over the next few years and we anticipate lower numbers in the future.
Including the Birches Assisted Living Facility, NAC expansion. At this time we are still waiting for the Promenade to Proceed, which is proposed for the old ACME site on Sycamore Street. Additionally, 649,052 square feet of non-residential development is on the books, but again, we are sure to see that spread further into the future because of the economy.
Continue practice of purchasing of police vehicles, computer systems from operating budget
Proposed Inter-fund transfers include:
Street Light Fund
Fire Protection Fund – dedicated millage
Rescue Squad Fund – dedicated tax eliminated in 2008 – This item now fully funded out of the General Fund. Resolution passed by the Board in 2009 states that 25% of the LST (Local Services Tax) should be dedicated to the Rescue Squad. This year the amount is $111,000.
Park and Recreation Fund – other significant operating fund) – This fund was incorporated into the General Fund in 2010
Debt Service Fund – dedicated tax
Capital Projects Fund
Recreation Capital Fund
Transportation Service Area Funds
2012 appropriations total $626,000:
2012 ending balance expected to be $816,276 Million
Traffic System Capital Fund
Woll Site Improvement Fund
Municipal Complex Improvement Fund
Highway Aid Fund
Pension Trust Funds
Three funds for Police, Firefighters and Non-Uniformed Employees
Budget – a statement of the financial position of an administration for a definite period of time based on estimates of expenditures during the period and proposals for financing them, and a plan for the coordination of resources and expenditures
The proposed budget represents an accurate estimate in dollar terms of the Township’s commitment to deliver quality municipal services
Mr. Czajkowski thanked Mrs. Gibbs, the Department Heads and Administrative Assistant Olivia Kivenko and Secretary Christy Holley for their efforts in putting together this year’s budget.
Discussion: Mr. Gallagher thanked everyone who participated in the preparation of the budget. He asked whether there would be any changes in the fee schedule and about the Woll and Municipal funds.
Mr. Czajkowski reminded the Board that the fee schedule was recently changed. No new changes are planned. Both the Woll and Municipal Complex funds will be retired after 2012.
Mr. Gallagher asked about the proposed lights and cameras in the parks.
Mr. Czajkowski said that DVIT has some grant programs for security in parks. The Township is hoping to receive some funding for the lights and cameras.
Mr. Schenkman reminded the Board that a study of the Township’s fire services has been conducted. It is possible that implementation of some of the suggestions in the study could result in changes in costs.
Dr. Ciervo asked about the estimated revenue from Earned Income Tax.
Mr. Czajkowski explained that the estimate is $6.3 Million; the same has is expected in 2011. Funds have been coming in differently with the new tax collector and we are seeing higher than anticipated resident income taxes. We are trying to figure out why and probably will not know until after the first quarter of 2012.
Dr. Ciervo asked about the budget for salaries, raises and benefits.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he has budgeted a 2% raise for CWA members and 2.5% for non-union employees. Health benefits are the same as this year, but he continues to look for possible savings.
Dr. Ciervo said that he does not want to see the reserve below 10%. He would like to continue to look for savings. Only the police contribute to their pension plan; he would like all employees to contribute 5% to the plans.
Dr. Ciervo asked whether there is an increase in Newtown Borough fire inspections.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the Borough inspections are at the same rate; there has been no change to the fee structure. He would research when the last increase had been.
Dr. Ciervo asked about recreation capital spent this year on the skate park and Roberts Ridge.
Mr. Czajkowski said that there had been some spending to improve the park; this did not include fencing. The insurance money for Roberts Ridge has been received and repair work will begin on Monday.
Mr. Schenkman asked whether there has been any further progress made with Upper Makefield’s request for coordination of police departments.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the Townships have applied for DCED grants to research this, but no changes have been included in this budget. Other surrounding municipalities have begun similar investigations and it seems they take a very long time.
The meeting adjourned at 7:40 PM
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary