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9 November 2022 BOS Meeting Summary
Joint Comprehensive Plan, Hiring Officers of Color, Toll Bros Land Development, Pedestrian Safety, 2021 Audit, 2023 Budget Discussion, More…
This is my personal summary of the November 9, 2022, meeting of Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). This is not a complete nor an official summary.
Access the 2022 BOS Chronicle for a more detailed summary of this meeting plus an updated BOS voting record (UNOFFICIAL) for 2022.
- Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
- Public Comment
- Land Development
- Consider Preliminary as Final Plan approval for Newtown AOP (Toll Bros.)
- Engineer's Report
- Manager's Report
- Old Business
- Official Video
Joint Comprehensive Plan
For background see page 95 of the 2022 BOS Chronicle and "Newtown Planning Commission Reviews Draft Comprehensive Plan: Part 1".
The Newtown Planning Commission (NTPC) discussed some changes in the area that should be explored further, including guidance toward zoning for new technologies and new uses (uses that did not even exist at the first comp plan).
A few of newer NTPC members had some confusion about preservation of open space and the meaning of “ag soils” “steep slopes” “conservation management” and how consideration of these terms can impact our recommendations for new development or property improvements. The NTPC requested that the township re-institute its practice of having a brief training session with township professionals at the start of each new year.
It’s a Process
Resident Makes Case For Hiring Police Officers of Color
Newtown resident Frank McCarron suggested that more of an effort should be made by the Newtown Police Dept (NTPD) to hire officers of color.
This is the second time Mr. McCarron raised this issue. Back in 2021, when there were 29 police officers, he noted that they were all white. Recent census data says the township population is 82% white. That means, said McCarron, if the NTPD believes it requires a force of 41 officers (versus 33 as of 2022), then it is feasible to hire at least 3 officers of color as he previously suggested at the January 13, 2021, BOS meeting.
Mr. McCarron suggested that the Newtown Human Relations Commission (NTHRC) take up this issue. Recall that Karen Downer, President of the Bucks County NAACP, was a guest speaker at the February 17, 2021, NTHRC Zoom meeting. Ms. Downer spoke about her organization's approach to working with local police departments in Bucks County. Listen to her presentation.
This survey asks your opinion of increasing diversity in the NTPD. To date (Novemebr 11, 2022), 221 local residents – including 179 NT residents and 10 WT resident – have taken this survey. 55% of NT respondents answered YES when asked “Do you favor the hiring of qualified police officers of color to diversify the racial/ethnic composition of the NTPD?” 22% said NO, and 23% weren’t sure. What do you think?
DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township approved survey. Its purpose is solely to inform John Mack – a Newtown Supervisor – of the public’s opinion regarding this issue.
Newtown AOP, Toll Bros Land Development
Representatives of Toll Brothers presented the plan for a detached cluster development of 45 homes at 435 Durham Road and 107 Twining Bridge Road (Archdiocese of Philadelphia property).
The plan was approved by the BOS in a 5-0 vote. The video below shows how this plan differs from the previous plan, which was denied.
One of the conditions was that the “Newtown Joint Historic Commission will be given access to the property to document any historic structures before issuing demolition permits.” For background, refer to page 90 of the 2022 BOS Chronicle.
N. Sycamore Street Pedestrian Safety
PennDOT has recently verbally indicated that they agree with the assessment we provided and were in agreement with the speed reduction on Sycamore Street. We are working with them now on coordination for the next steps, which include placement of the signage.
RVE is currently preparing an application with DCED for the Keystone Communities – Additional Appropriation funding for the pedestrian signal improvements. See Manager’s Report on page 98 of the 2022 BOS Chronicle.
According to the township engineer: “We are preparing an application for [a Keystone Communities grant] for the Sycamore Street and Silo Drive rapid flashing beacons that we had previously proposed. We anticipate by next meeting [the BOS will] have the resolution for … approval.”
Pedestrian Crosswalk Improvements at Newtown Walk
RVE will be analyzing crash history, taking speed measurements, and other metrics that it will have to provide to PennDOT in order to meet the requests of residents; e.g., reducing the speed limit and adding additional pedestrian flashing crosswalk devices.
NOTE: There is precedent for residents to dialog directly with PennDOT regarding their concerns. See this 2018 video: “PennDOT Responds to Residents' Complaints About Swamp Road”.
2021 Financial Statement (Audit)
2021 Audit Folder (cover letter + audit details)
The auditors have identified the following “SIGNIFICANT RISKS”:
- Risk of Management Override of Internal Controls - Even though internal control over financial reporting may appear to be well-designed, controls that are otherwise effective can be overridden by management.
- Risk of Improper Revenue Recognition - Improper timing of revenue recognition happens when an entity inappropriately records revenues in one period that should be recorded in another.
QUESTION: When will the auditor make a presentation to the BOS so that we can ask questions and understand these risks?
ANSWER: In a follow up phone call with the Manager, he indicated that the auditor will make a presentation at the next BOS meeting (November 22, 2022) to answer questions from the supervisors.
October 2022 Police Report
As usual, the October 2022 Police Report covers Newtown AND Wrightstown incidents combined. From 2017 through 2020, an average of 18.6% of Newtown Township Police Department (NTPD) Calls For Service were in Wrightstown.
Some have argued that the NTPD does not have to deal with serious crimes in Wrightstown as opposed to crime in Newtown. My analysis of YTD police incident data (see the table below) shows that the NTPD responds to similar serious crimes/incidents in Wrightstown as it does in Newtown.
2023 Budget Discussion
The 2023 budget proposes a 30% increase in RE tax from 8.49 mills to 11.115 mills, which includes an increase in the EMS tax by 0.5 mill approved by voters 58% to 42%.
The BOS asked the Manager to come back with a revised budget that included a 1.625 mill tax increase: 0.5 mill for EMS approved by voters on Nov 8, 2022 (hopefully specifically for the Newtown Ambulance Squad), 0.5 mill for the NFA General Fund (hopefully most, if not all, for recruitment and retention purposes), 0.5 mill for the Fire Capital Fund (towards the purchase of a new fire truck, and 0.125 for debt relief.
After the meeting, the Manager informed the BOS after the meeting that, unfortunately, “After looking at the changes to the Budget as directed by the Board last evening, it has become apparent that the changes to the budget will require re-advertisement because they exceed the thresholds provided by the Second Class Township Code. However, the code specifies that any revised budget needs to be advertised for a 10-day period. Therefore, we will include an item on the agenda for November 22 to re-advertise the changes - the earliest the board can adopt the budget will be on December 7.”
View the official video of the meeting on Youtube for more details.
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