FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
THURSDAY MARCH 17, 2005
MINUTES OF MARCH 17, 2005: Mr. Vance moved to approve the minutes of March 21, 2005. The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously.
Mr. Newmuis arrived during the discussion for Municipal Complex funding but after the approval of the minutes from March 21, 2005.
The regular meeting of the Newtown Township Financial Planning Commission met on Thursday, March 17, 2005 in the meeting room of the Township Municipal Building.
Members present were Anne Goren, Robert Dieterle, Philip Newmuis, Allen Fidler, Ryan O’Keefe, Elaine Gibbs, Phil Vance and Township Manager Bob Pellegrino. Excused was Sarita Tirpak.
Also in attendance was Emergency Services Director Don Harris.
MINUTES OF JANUARY 18, 2005:
Mr. Vance moved to approve the minutes of January 18, 2005. The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously.
MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 15, 2005:
Ms. Gibbs moved to approve the minutes of February 15, 2005. The motion was seconded by Mr. Newmuis and passed unanimously with one member abstaining.
Inspection of Re-Sale Properties – Emergency Services Director Don Harris
The Committee members reviewed the “Residential Use & Occupancy Permit Applications and Inspections Sheets” provided by Mr. Harris. Mr. Harris advised the members on how the Township would use the applications and inspections sheets. He advised that once the Township receives an application and check, the Emergency Services would conduct the safety inspection. Mr. Harris advised that this service would generate revenue for the Township and would provide safety for the properties. He commented with regards to existing safety concerns with properties in the Township. He also advised that neighboring Township are already conducting re-sale safety inspections.
Ms. Gibbs explained to the Committee why the Township is now considering providing this service. She advised that the Township currently inspects commercial properties. She explained that the inspections would bring revenue to the Township. She commented with regards to the safety concerns. She also advised that inspecting residential properties would not be an expense to the Township.
Mr. Dieterle questioned the number of re-sales within the Township. Mr. Pellegrino and Mr. Harris advised that the number of re-sales per year within the Township is approximately 700.
Mr. O’Keefe advised the Committee members that the Township’s Planning Commission last year discussed a similar idea, but they had concerns with liability issues. He questioned what is the intent of the Township. Mr. Harris advised that the Township would provide a safety inspection. Mr. Harris explained various safety problems he has seen within the Township.
Mr. Fidler commented with regards to politics and inspection cost. Mr. Harris advised the Committee members that he feels the Township will inspect 700 properties annually (14 inspections per week – 3 inspections per day – 30 minutes per inspection = 350 inspection hours per year).
Mr. O’Keefe discussed the fees associated with the inspection/re-inspection. Mr. Harris advised that the inspection fee would be $100.00. There would be no additional charge for a re-inspection.
The Committee members discussed the Emergency Services staff. Mr. Harris advised that the safety inspections would become part of their daily routine duties. The Committee discussed the expenses. Ms. Gibbs advised that the expenses would be minimal and that the Township is already paying for the labor.
Mr. Vance questioned if the Emergency Services would go onto the roofs. Mr. Harris advised that could be a possibility. He advised the Committee members on some fireplace flue concerns within the Township.
The Committee members discussed the size of the crews that will conduct the inspections and the equipment they will be using.
Mr. O’Keefe commented with regards to the Township’s liability insurance. Mr. Pellegrino and Mr. Harris advised that there would be no increase to the liability insurance.
Ms. Goren commented with regards to items on page 2 that would be done by outside contractors. Mr. Harris explained that some items would need to be inspected by a certified inspector.
Mr. Harris advised on the safety concerns regards several items on the list.
Mr. Fidler suggested that something be published in the Township newsletter regarding home safety. Mr. Harris advised that the Township is currently providing safety information on the web site.
Mr. Newmuis questioned if this information should be provided to the contractors. Mr. Harris advised that this information is available to contractors, he also commented with regards to the Township registering contractors.
Mr. Dieterle commented with regards to gas leaks. Mr. Harris advised that Emergency Services have meters to detect gas and carbon monoxide leaks.
Mr. O’Keefe commented with regards to smoke detectors and the language on the 3rd page. Mr. Harris advised on smoke detectors. He also advised that with regards to the language on the application/safety inspection forms was written by the Township Solicitor, Mr. Sander. Mr. O’Keefe advised that he is in favor of the Township conducting safety inspections.
The Committee members discussed hard-wired smoke detectors.
The Committee members discussed liability issues.
The Committee members agreed that a document should be drafted giving the applicant a description of what the Township expects for a passing safety inspection.
Members discussed their recommendation to the BOS. Mr. Fidler made a motion to have the Committee recommend that the BOS consider generating $70,000.00 worth of revenue from existing staff availability and offering a benefit to the Township in terms of fire safety. The motion was seconded by Mr. Vance and passed unanimously.
Mr. Pellegrino advised that Mr. Harris could make his presentation to the BOS at the April 25, 2005 Work Session.
Continued Discussion – New Sources of Revenue
Ms. Gibbs updated the Committee members on two suggestions for generating revenue – raising the municipal service tax and having contractor registration.
The first would be to raise the Municipal Service Tax from $10.00 to $20.00. Mr. O’Keefe made a motion to recommend to the BOS that the Township raise the Municipal Service Tax from $10.00 to $20.00. The motion was seconded by Mr. Vance and passed unanimously.
The second would be to have contractors register to work within the Township. Currently mechanical contractors (pluming, heating/air conditioning, and electricians) are registered with the Township. Any contractors, who would be doing work within the Township that required a permit, would be required to be registered to work in the Township. The contractor registration fee would be $100.00 per year. Mr. Pellegrino and Mr. Harris estimate that a minimum of 200 contractors would register per year. All registered contractors would be required to show proof of insurance. Any resident looking for a contractor could contact the Township for a listing of registered contractors. Mr. Pellegrino advised that as far as expense is concerned the Township is already setup to register mechanical contractors. The registration of contractors could be policed through the permits and inspectors. Mr. Dieterle made a motion to recommend to the BOS that the Township require contractors to register to work within the Township for both the revenue enhances and a practical side for the safety of the residents. The motion was seconded by Mr. Newmuis and passed unanimously.
Review of Adopted Fee Schedule
Mr. Pellegrino advised the Committee members that he and Ms. Gibbs agree that a review of the fee schedule should be done on a yearly basis, they also advised that the last review was in 2000. Mr. Pellegrino advised on the various increases/changes to fees and how the Township calculated the increases. Ms. Gibbs advised that the new fee schedule is more user friendly and explains more of what is expected from the applicant. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the new fee schedule was put into use after the adoption date of January 25, 2005. He also advised that in the future if the Committee has any recommendations for fee schedule changes to present them to the BOS at the re-organization meeting in the beginning of the year. Mr. Dieterle suggested that some of the items on the fee schedule should be monitored closely to verify that the Township is being reimbursed. Ms. Goren advised that the Committee could always discuss the matter further at a later date under old business.
Meeting Dates & Times for 2005 Meetings
The Committee members discussed the meeting night and time for the remaining 2005 meetings. The Committee members agreed to meet on the third Thursday of the month at 7 P.M.
Review Tentative Schedule of Department Heads Presentation
Ms. Goren advised that half of the department heads would make their presentations in May and the other half would make their presentations in June. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the department heads might have possible changes to their request. Ms. Gibbs advised that it is beneficial to have the presentations in the middle of the year. The Committee members discussed the Capital Budget funding. Mr. Pellegrino advised on how funds are transferred and resolution.
The Committee members discussed Municipal Complex.
The Committee members discussed the expansion of the municipal complex. The Committee members discussed possible ways to finance to project. Members discussed borrowing the money now for the new building. Mr. Vance suggested that the Township borrow money now to payoff the existing debt. Mr. Pellegrino advised the Committee members on a proposal he made before the BOS. Mr. O’Keefe commented with regards to discussions at the December meeting, he questioned what the BOS are looking for from the Committee. Mr. Pellegrino suggested the Committee members focus on how the Township pays for the expansion, what does the Township do regarding the existing debt, and should reserves be used towards the costs or should the Township hold onto the reserves and borrow more money. Mr. Dieterle commented with regards to the Committee needing more direction from the BOS. Mr. Pellegrino advised the Committee members that he would be presenting the new plans to the BOS in May. The Committee members discussed the time schedule for the construction project once the BOS make a decision. The Committee members discussed the outstanding debt after 2005 and the amount of money in the reserve. Mr. Vance commented with regards to the Township purchasing the land for the municipal complex expansion. Mr. Pellegrino updated the Committee members on the break through with the Archdiocese. He advised on the discussions with the real estate firm representing the Archdiocese. The Committee members discussed the value of the land. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the land was appraised at $380,000.00, he also advised that the Township used an appraiser recommended by the Archdiocese. He also advised that the appraised value of the property has probably increase 20%. Committee members discussed the money budgeted for the project in the reserve account. The Committee members discussed the current interest rates and the number of years for the loan. The Committee members agreed that they need to discuss possible ways to finance the expansion of the municipal complex. Members agreed to discuss further at next months meeting. Mr. Pellegrino advised he would provide the committee members with more information for the next meeting. Mr. Pellegrino advised that he feels the Township can not fund the expansion without increasing taxes.
The Committee members discussed the development of the Woll Tract and the possible grants available for the project. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the preliminary estimated cost for the project is $3,500,000.00 to $4,000,000.00.
The Committee discussed the RCN settlement funds.
Ms. Goren discussed the negotiations of the tapping fee with the electric company. Mr. Pellegrino advised.
The Committee discussed the funds budgeted to purchase the land for the expansion of the municipal complex.
There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was duly adjourned.
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary