Board of Supervisors
Minutes of August 8, 2012
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on August 8, 2012 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Michael Gallagher, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Ryan W. Gallagher and Philip Calabro and Robert Ciervo, members. Also in attendance were: Kurt Ferguson, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order : Chairman Gallagher called the meeting to order with a moment of silence. This was followed by an invocation by Pastor Button of Grace Point Church and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to Agenda: Mr. Garton said that the NAC Baseball Academy and Pool Development Agreement has been added to the Solicitor’s Report.
Eagle Scout Presentations: Mr. Gallagher announced that he was proud to present three Newtown Eagle Scouts with proclamations. He called Ryan Varian to the podium and read the Proclamation congratulating him on attaining the rank of Eagle Scout and thanking him on behalf of the Township for his Eagle Scout project, raising over $6000 and building the entrance wall and eight flag poles honoring the US, Prisoners of War and the six branches of the US Military Service for Newtown Veterans Park. Ryan’s project was awarded the Service Project of the Year by the Boy Scouts of America.
Ryan thanked all who helped him and thanked the Supervisors for their acknowledgement of his project, which he is very proud of.
Mr. Gallagher read the Proclamation of Andy Sabol, who raised funds and built a 10’ X 12’ storage shed in Veterans Park for sports equipment. He congratulated Andy on attaining the rank of Eagle Scout and thanked him for his contribution to the Township’s parks.
Andy thanked the Board and said that he was very proud of this honor, as the Scouts promote the importance of giving back to the community by the Eagle projects.
Mr. Gallagher read the Proclamation of Brian Pennepacker, congratulating him on attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. Brian’s project involved removing and replacing a privacy fence at Churchville Nature Center.
Brian thanked the Board for the recognition and for the opportunity to become involved with the community.
Public Comment: Resident John D’Aprile said that he was saddened to announce the death of longtime resident Paul Sterling. Mr. Sterling will be greatly missed.
Resident Andy Errico asked what criteria was used in hiring the new fire chief, who does not have national firefighting certifications, while bypassing other applicants including Fire Marshal Don Harris, who is certified nationally.
Mr. Gallagher said that over 40 applicants’ resumes were reviewed. Considerations for the position included experience in leadership, budget management and firefighting. The Board chose the applicant with the broadest experience in a number of areas beyond firefighting.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that at its August 7, 2012 meeting the Commission reviewed a revised plan for Goodnoe Elementary School, 298 Frost Lane . The revisions included a reconfiguration of the circulation patterns for buses, vans and parent drop off as well as relocation of some parking. The plan now shows parent vehicles entering the property at the east entrance, near the SAIL School and buses entering at the west entrance. The plan shows stacking for up to 40 parent vehicles inside the property. Buses will have a separate drive aisle, with drop off at the same location it has always used. No changes have been made to the building expansion and interior renovations. The Commission was supportive of the change and had some recommendations to make the transition to the new driving pattern run more smoothly. The applicant was seeking waivers from the requirement to complete a traffic study, from traffic impact fees and from the widening of Frost Lane. The School District indicated that there are not problems with traffic now and the school population will not change with the renovation. The Commission asked for more detailed information about traffic before making any recommendation on the waivers. The members felt that sometimes simple solutions like turning/passing lanes can alleviate back-ups of vehicles trying to pass stacked vehicles. We asked the applicants to look into this before they return for land development.
In other business, the Commission discussed its recommendations to the Supervisors regarding Zoning Hearing Board applications. The Commission has a responsibility to the applicants to guide them through the hearing, as well as to the Supervisors. The members frequently feel that “no comment’ is an appropriate response when they do not have a recommendation for the Supervisors to take any action at the Zoning Hearing Board. There are applications which the Commission feels will be detrimental to the community and the members will recommend opposition. Occasionally an application will benefit the Township greatly and the Commission feels the applicant should be supported at the Zoning Hearing Board. The Commission takes its responsibility to the Township very seriously and is cognizant of the costs associated with the Supervisors participating at the Zoning Hearing Board.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like the Chairman’s report to indicate whether an application is a benefit to the community, regardless of whether a recommendation to participate is suggested.
Mr. Garton suggested that the Planning Commission could indicate to the Supervisors the nature of the application, any issues of concern could be pointed out but if no action is recommended, the Commission could “leave the application to the discretion of the Zoning Hearing Board,” particularly if an application has no impact on the surrounding community.
Mr. Calabro said that he would like the report to explain any differences of opinion among the Planning Commission members when a vote is not unanimous. Some indication of the nature of the discussion would be appreciated.
Mr. Fidler said that the Commission would discuss these suggestions and attempt to incorporate them into their decision making process.
Board of Supervisors: Mr. M. Gallagher reported that he had attended the Joint Zoning Council. The Council is reviewing alternative energy ordinances which should be forwarded to the municipalities for authorization to advertise shortly.
Reports of Officials
2012 Roadway Improvement Program: Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize pay estimate #2 to Bray Brothers, Inc. in the amount of $119,855.22. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Corner Bakery Café, 3 West Road – Amended Conditional Use: Mr. Garton asked the Board to approve the written decision for the conditional use. It includes use of the outdoor patio with 36 seats, no outdoor music or noise, a stop sign to be installed on West Road at the direction of the Township Police and lights on signs to be extinguished at 10:00 PM or when the last employee departs. The agreement also reaffirms the conditions of the original approval dated October 12, 2012. Mr. Garton said that he has contacted the owners of the Shopping Center, who will work with the Township Engineer to install the reserve parking. He has also spoken to Attorney Don Marshall about installation of the raised crosswalk.
Dr. Ciervo moved to approve the conditional use amendment for Corner Bakery Café. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Ordinance Amending Act 457 Deferred Compensation Plan: Mr. Garton explained that to amend the Compensation Plan would require an ordinance, which must be advertised. The Township Manager has suggested that contributions to the plan be made to coordinate with the Township’s normal payroll, but at least quarterly, and that adjustments in the contribution can be made “from time to time”. This would allow the Township some flexibility without having to amend the ordinance whenever minor adjustments are made.
Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize advertisement of an amendment to the Act 457 Deferred Compensation Plan. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
NAC Baseball Academy and Pool Development Agreement: Mr. Garton said that the NAC baseball academy and outdoor pool complex development agreement is ready for the board to sign. It will be held until all funds have been received. He noted that the NAC feels no traffic impact fee should be required because there will be no increase in traffic. This decision has been deferred.
Dr. Ciervo moved to approve the NAC Baseball Academy and Pool Development Agreement. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Ferguson reported that the current general fund balance is $766,361.52. He intends to begin regular meetings with Keystone, the Township’s Earned Income Tax collector. The funds are coming in more regularly now. He reported that he has scheduled a pension meeting with the asset manager on August 15. He would like to put out an RFP for the Township’s insurances and is seeking proposals on the telephone service. The Township will be adding videos to the television channel, beginning with a four minute film from Newtown Corporation.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that an upcoming Newtown Corporation film was funded by a grant from the Commonwealth.
Police Report: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the Department answered 1130 calls for service last month, including 3 sexual assaults, 16 thefts, 7 frauds, and 119 false alarms. He said that the Department has been able to solve a number of burglaries thanks in part to the reports of concerned residents. He again urged residents to report any suspicious circumstances. The Department conducted 44 traffic details and has seen a decrease in speeding as a result. The Department is participating in an active shooter training at Council Rock South High School. Newtown is fortunate to have a number of trained SWAT officers on our force and is well prepared in the event of such a situation.
Chief Pasqualini reported that the sallyport construction is completed, $3000 over budget. The bond has been completely spent down. He is now planning for internal signage throughout the municipal complex to direct visitors to police, fire, tax collector, etc. The public works department has spruced up the area around the flagpoles at the police station.
The Department will be seeking accreditation next year.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of July 25, 2012. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve payment of bills totaling $322,080.90. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo said that he would like to withhold the fire protection fund payment of $20,147.53 until the Township has a written agreement with the Newtown Fire Association finalized. The Fire Association has had the agreement for months, has a new chief, the Township has a new fire chief and manager and this should be completed.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he has spoken to the Fire Association and they are asking for a little more time because they have a new chief who is trying to familiarize himself with the agreement. He expects to have the agreement within a month or two. He did not think the funds should be withheld.
Dr. Ciervo said that withholding the funds would let them know that the Township considers the agreement a priority and the signed agreement would help both the Township and the Fire Association with budgeting and planning. This has been under discussion for over a year and it is time to act on the agreement.
Mr. Ferguson said that he has spoken to the Township chief and has a meeting scheduled in two weeks with the Borough chief and a Fire Association Board member. It was his understanding that the agreement would be in place within two months.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that he agrees that the Board should stay on top of this and that it is taking longer than the Board had hoped, however he favors allowing two months, as suggested by the Manager, to allow all of the new leaders to become familiar with the agreement.
Mr. Benchener said that he agrees with both sides of this question, but does not think it is the right time to withhold funds. He would like to review the fire protection budget and the % of fire millage going to the Fire Association, but does not favor withholding this payment.
Dr. Ciervo felt strongly that the Township has spent time, money and effort in first hiring a consultant and then hiring a fire chief and the Fire Association should have responded to the agreement months ago. There are issues which the agreement addresses that need to be resolved immediately, including who is in charge at fires. We have volunteers responding to weekend fires; our paid fire chief might respond to a weekend fire and he should be in charge. He also pointed out that while the Fire Association chief is new, he has been deputy chief for many years. He feels strongly that the Township should be making decision on fire association equipment purchases.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Fire Association has been reviewing the agreement and has pointed out to him some discrepancies, such as coverage on holidays, which still need to be considered and addressed. The Fire Association is actively considering the terms of the agreement.
On other bills matters, Mr. Calabro asked whether the current fund balance reported earlier, reflects the payment of these bills.
Mr. Ferguson said that the balance reported is after this bills payment.
The motion passed 4-1, with Dr. Ciervo voting nay.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $200,000. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. M. Gallagher noted that the increased payroll transfer reflects payment of summer employees.
Mr. Benchener asked whether the earned income tax inflow has normalized. Earlier in the year there had been a delay in receipt of taxes.
Mr. Ferguson said that he is setting up regular meetings with Keystone to keep closer track, especially of non-resident EIT, but at this point, collections have stabilized and he expects income to be close to the budgeted numbers. Income has been above expected recently, primarily catching up to the first quarter delays.
Mr. Garton announced that the Board had met in executive session to discuss matters of personnel and would remain after the close of the meeting for an executive session to discuss matters of litigation.
The meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary