NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, JANUARY 3, 2002
APPROVAL OF THE JANUARY MINUTES: Mr. Terry moved to approve the minutes of the January meeting with the following change: in Ms. Mitchell’s presentation, the fourth item in the list of highlights should read (changes in bold): “The Newtown Athletic Club has donated over $2M in products and services to charities…”. Ms. Buras seconded; the motion carried.
Council members in attendance: Steve Sanderlin, Belinda Buras, Dick Weaver, Lisa Kruse, Hal Roberts, Tom Harwood, Walter Leck, Doug Terry, William Mlkvy, Miguel Sison, Jim Worthington, Glenn Hains.
Others present: Anne Goren, Barbara Hains, Virginia Bowe, Linda Mitchell, Sue Beasley, Winslow Mason, Sharon Kelly, Scott Little, Peter Broms, Nancy Goracy, Dan McCloskey, Dave Marcolla, Total attendance was 26.
CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Sanderlin called the meeting to order. As it was his last meeting as Council Chairman and Township Supervisor, he thanked the Council for their support. He voiced his support for Mr. Weaver as the next Chairman of the BDC, and said that he has asked to be appointed as a council member.
PUBLIC COMMENT - Anne Goren said that at a previous BOS meeting Linda Mitchell had presented a mission statement and she questioned where that statement had come from. Ms. Goren presented a copy of the minutes of the BOS meeting during which the Business Development Council was formed and the initial mission statement presented. Ms. Goren said she did not know of any resolution changing the mission statement, which she said could only be changed by the supervisors. Mr. Terry said that it might have changed when the permit process was streamlined. Ms. Dunleavy said that mission statement in the BDC brochure came from the township manager’s office. Ms. Goren suggested that the BDC could recommend a mission statement for consideration by the supervisors.
Mr. Worthington said he thought the township couldn’t pick and choose when the BDC recommended or advised the supervisors, and that in the past the council had advised the supervisors in matters such as the increase in impervious surface cover in the OR District.
Ms. Buras moved to request a change in the council’s mission statement to the one stated in the BDC brochure. Mr. Worthington seconded; the motion carried. Mr. Weaver will make a recommendation to the BOS to change the mission statement at the BOS meeting of January 7, 2002.
CODES DEPARTMENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPORT
Mr. Harwood distributed and reviewed the report for December 2001. Mr. Sanderlin thanked Mr. Harwood for his monthly reports.
APPROVAL OF THE DECEMBER MINUTES: Mr. Terry moved to approve the minutes of the December meeting as presented. Ms. Buras seconded; the motion carried.
LOWER BUCKS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE – No report.
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION – No report.
SYCAMORE STREET - No report.
Mr. Sanderlin suggested that now was a good time to begin considering new projects for the upcoming year. Dr. Mlkvy expressed appreciation for the for Mr. Sanderlin’s interest and enthusiastic leadership in the business community.
Ms. Kelly asked about the history of the Business Development Council. Mr. Sanderlin said that the council was initially charged with streamlining the process of permits and codes enforcement, and working to resolve issues that were adversely affecting local business. The council has addressed other issues such parking and the sign ordinance, and has served as the point of contact between the township and the business community. Mr. Sanderlin said that the difference between the Newtown Business and Professional Association and the BDC is that the council is a connection to the township. The council has no authority, and is only a recommending board. Mr. Terry said that at the core of the council was the project of attracting business to Newtown and the networking between businesses.
Mr. Sanderlin clarified everyone is welcome to attend council meetings, but that members of the BDC are appointed and that appointees must be business owners in the township or borough. Mr. Sanderlin said that anyone that is interested in being appointed to the council should contact the township manager’s office or Ms. Dunleavy. The council will be appointed at the BOS reorganization meeting on January 7, 2002.
SPEAKER: Linda Mitchell, President – Newtown Business and Professional Association, and Public Relations Director for the Newtown Athletic Club
Ms. Mitchell said she would be speaking about the economic impact of non tax-paying businesses in Newtown, and distributed a packet. She presented a four minute video which discussed the difficulties and unfair tax advantage of non profit recreation organizations such as municipal recreation centers, YMCA’s, colleges over small businesses particularly. She said that for the purposes of discussion, a recreation center would be defined as a non-profit, not specifically a YMCA.
Highlights of her presentation and handouts:
§ In Newtown there is presently a good mix of industrial, recreation an open space.
§ A market penetration study of recreation needs done recently showed that over 51% of Newtown Borough and Township is being serviced already; this exceeds the average of 12.8% of a community.
§ The economic impact of a nonprofit would include a degrading of the tax base that would necessitate a tax increase. Unfair competition would cause downsizing or closings, which would result in fewer businesses in the township and lower the amount of corporate taxes collected.
§ The Newtown Athletic Club has donated over $1M in products and services to the township, and it was unlikely that a nonprofit would give such donations to the community.
§ A capital expense drive by a nonprofit collects money from residents and local businesses to build a facility.
§ Ms. Mitchell said it was her understanding that part of the council’s mission was to consider the negative impact on business, as quoted in the BDC brochure, and she felt that it was not too early to consider the effects of a YMCA on local business.
§ She complimented the Newtown Park & Recreation Department on their program, and noted that it is greatly self-sufficient.
§ She proposed that the BDC: a) present a motion to not support a YMCA, and b) fashion a pro business position statement, possibility based on the fair competition principles included in her packet, and that a subcommittee should be formed to draft such a statement.
Mr. Leck felt that the township should not have considered the issue of a YMCA, because of potential loss of tax revenue. He said that when Lockheed Martin came to Newtown they paid no taxes, and he questioned whether any jobs were created locally. He wondered if this would open up doors to other nonprofits, and he said he didn’t believe it was the job of government to put nonprofit business in competition with local business.
Dr. Mlkvy suggested a subcommittee be formed to speak with small businesses, to get feedback and support. Ms. Buras said the larger issue is not just how the NAC would be affected by a nonprofit, but the problems other businesses would face as well. Mr. Sanderlin said that the fair competition principles presented by Ms. Mitchell were very broad, and cautioned the council that some of the elements considered harmful may not actually be organizations or situations that the township would object to.
Ms. Goren suggested that the phrase “..protecting interests of the residents of the township” might be added to the mission statement.
Dr. Mlkvy moved to form a subcommittee of the BDC to investigate with small business the impact of a YMCA, and to develop a statement regarding fair competition principles. Mr. Terry seconded; the motion carried.
Mr. Leck moved that Doug Terry be appointed chair of the subcommittee. Mr. Sanderlin seconded; the motion carried. It was agreed that the subcommittee should include Newtown business owners as well as council members.
The next luncheon meeting is scheduled for February 7, 2002 at the Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar at 12:00 PM. Ms. Dunleavy asked Council members to please RSVP meeting attendance to her, so she can provide Goodnoe’s with a better estimate of attendees.
ADJOURNMENT: Without objection, the meeting adjourned at 1:45 pm.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary