John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

My Year (2019) as Newtown Supervisor

The following is a summary of my Supervisor-related activities for the entire year of 2019. In 2019 I spent, on average, 39.4 hours per month on official Supervisor business.

Log of Hours Spent on Official Business

My log keeps track of the time spent on the following:

  • Attending “Required” Meetings
  • Preparation for BOS Meetings
  • Attending Optional Meetings/Activities
  • Interaction with Residents
  • Travel To & From Meetings

What This Report Does Not Include

My log of Supervisor-related activities does not include the many hours I spend posting to this blog, maintaining my personal website, writing a newsletter, creating and posting video clips from meetings, hosting podcast interviews, summarizing decisions made by the Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition), etc. Also not included is the time I spend posting to my personal Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. These activities are NOT part of my official duties as Supervisor, but represent my personal views.
Meetings

In 2019, I spent a total of 56 hours attending required meetings and 63 hours in optional meetings for a total of 119 hours for the year or 10 hours per month.

Obviously, BOS meetings are the most important meetings - I am expected to attend them in order to satisfy my duties as a Supervisor*. These include regular twice-per-month public meetings (except in July and August and sometimes December), and non-public executive sessions. In 2019, I had a perfect attendance record for regular Board of Supervisors meetings and voted on every motion (refer to "The (UNOFFICIAL) 2019 Voting Record of Newtown Supervisors" for details of how I and other Supervisors voted). Optional meetings include public work sessions, and special meetings (see the list below).

How Much Are Supervisors Paid?

*Township supervisors are paid a yearly stipend set by ordinance and state law. The exact amount depends on the size of the township. Newtown Township supervisors receive $4,125 per year. If I had attended ONLY required meetings, that works out to nearly $90 per hour! But based on the actual number of hours I have worked on official business in 2019, I earned $9.32 per hour. That's more than the official $7.25 per hour minimum wage in PA!

This stipend hasn’t risen in nearly a quarter of a century, but could go up by as much as 68% under legislation moving in Pennsylvania’s Capitol. For Newtown the proposed stipend would rise to $6,915. However, municipalities would have to adopt an ordinance for any salary change to take effect. The higher salaries would only be raised after an incumbent stands for re-election or when their successor starts their term of office. One wrinkle: the board of supervisors may provide that a supervisor shall receive compensation on a per-meeting basis based on attendance of supervisors.

Considering that Supervisors already make considerably more than the PA minimum hourly wage, I would not support an increase in the Stipend unless the PA minimum wage was raised to at least $9.50 per hour!

“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. These include meetings of the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB Definition), Planning Commission, Human Relations Commission (HRC), Human Relations Commission, Environmental Advisory Council, Parks and Recreation Board, Finance Committee and the Newtown Fire Association (NFA).

In 2019, I spent a considerable amount of time (131 total hours/11 hours per month) preparing for required Board meetings. This includes downloading and reviewing documents, including the Bills List (invoices paid by the Township), minutes of previous meetings, and police reports.

Interaction with Residents

In my opinion, personal interaction with residents regarding their concerns is an important part of my responsibilities as Supervisor. I want to be sure that I spend enough time reaching out to and responding to residents via personal contact, official email via my johnm@newtownpa.gov account and via my personal john@johnmacknewtown.info account, and via phone and/or Facebook.

In 2019, I spent more than 80 hours (17% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents.

Disclaimer

When speaking with residents on issues that may come before the BOS in the future for a vote, I never express an opinion as to how I will vote because I may not have all the information. Needless to say, I also do NOT discuss any confidential information that is not in the public domain. These discussions with residents are meant solely to inform me of their opinions, not for me to give them my opinion. Or it is just to listen to complaints/concerns and to forward them on to the BOS if necessary
I find discussions with residents very helpful. Therefore, I'd like to make it a regular thing to meet with residents to discuss issues that are on the agenda of upcoming Board of Supervisors meetings. Meetings are usually the second Monday of the month at the Corner Bakery Cafe in Newtown from 2-3 PM. But check the  event calendar  as meeting dates and locations may vary.  Meanwhile, Tell me what issues are most important to you by taking my short SURVEY.

Posted on 06 Jan 2020, 10:07 - Category: Open Records/Transparency



My Supervisor Activity Log for December 2019: Toll Bros, Savvy Citizen, more...

The following is a summary of my Supervisor-related activities for December, 2019. I spent 34.8 hours in December on official Supervisor business.

Log of Hours Spent on Official Business

My log keeps track of the time spent on the following:

  • Attending “Required” Meetings
  • Preparation for BOS Meetings
  • Attending Optional Meetings/Activities
  • Interaction with Residents
  • Travel To & From Meetings

What This Report Does Not Include

My log of Supervisor-related activities does not include the many hours I spend posting to this blog, maintaining my personal website, writing a newsletter, creating and posting video clips from meetings, hosting podcast interviews, summarizing decisions made by the Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition), etc. Also not included is the time I spend posting to my personal Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. These activities are NOT part of my official duties as Supervisor, but represent my personal views.
Meetings

In December 2019, I spent 2.2 hours attending required meetings (there was only one BOS meeting) and 5.4 hours in optional meetings.

Obviously, BOS meetings are the most important meetings - I am expected to attend them in order to satisfy my duties as a Supervisor. These include regular twice-per-month public meetings (except in July and August and sometimes in December), and non-public executive sessions. Optional meetings include public work sessions, and special meetings (see the list below).

“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. In December, 2019, I attended meetings of the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB Definition) and the Human Relations Commission (HRC).

In December, I spent 9.8 hours preparing for required Board meetings. This includes downloading and reviewing documents, including the Bills List (invoices paid by the Township), minutes of previous meetings, and police report.

The height of each bar represents total hours spent on official business that day. This includes time spent at meetings.
Interaction with Residents

In my opinion, personal interaction with residents regarding their concerns is an important part of my responsibilities as Supervisor. I want to be sure that I spend enough time reaching out to and responding to residents via personal contact, official email via my johnm@newtownpa.gov account and via my personal john@johnmacknewtown.info account, and via phone and/or Facebook.

In December 2019, I spent 9.3 hours (27% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents. What did I discuss with residents? Here’s a partial list (some items are not included for confidentiality reasons):

Disclaimer

When speaking with residents on issues that may come before the BOS in the future for a vote, I never express an opinion as to how I will vote because I may not have all the information. Needless to say, I also do NOT discuss any confidential information that is not in the public domain. These discussions with residents are meant solely to inform me of their opinions, not for me to give them my opinion. Or it is just to listen to complaints/concerns and to forward them on to the BOS if necessary
I find discussions with residents very helpful. Therefore, I'd like to make it a regular thing to meet with residents to discuss issues that are on the agenda of upcoming Board of Supervisors meetings. Meetings are usually the second Monday of the month at the Corner Bakery Cafe in Newtown from 2-3 PM. But check the  event calendar  as meeting dates and locations may vary.  Meanwhile, Tell me what issues are most important to you by taking my short SURVEY.

Posted on 06 Jan 2020, 01:38 - Category: Open Records/Transparency



Newtown Township Board of Supervisors 2019 Accomplishments

The following are some notable accomplishments of the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) in 2019. I am proud to have been involved in these decisions along with my fellow BOS members. I look forward to a prosperous and safe New Year!

Enhanced the Health & Safety of Residents & Employees

Approved the Employment Agreement for a new Police Chief: Chief John Hearn came on board in March 2019. [Read "Meet Newtown Township's New Police Chief"]

Awarded 2019 Liquid Fuels Road Program to Harris Blacktopping, Inc. in the amount of $706,596.20 for resurfacing of 2.73 miles of roadways. [Read "Newtown Accepts $706K Bid to Pave 2.7 Miles of Township-owned Roads This Year"]

Advocated a Lower Speed Limit on Swamp Road. In a May 2, 2019, letter, Ashwin Patel, Senior Manager of PennDOT's Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, notified Newtown Township that PennDOT will be lowering the speed limit on Swamp Road between the Twining Bridge intersection and the intersection of Pennswood Dr. [Read "PennDOT to Lower Speed Limit on Section of Swamp Road"]

Renewed Agreement with Newtown Fire Association (NFA). The 2020 Budget includes $175,100 to support the all-volunteer NFA.

Authorized Newtown Township Complex Emergency Action Plan (EAP). The purpose of the EAP is to ensure staff is trained and prepared for any critical incidents that may occur.

Approved the purchase of emergency vehicle equipment: Ford F-250 from HAVIS, Inc. through COSTARs in the amount of $21,382.57.

Authorized purchase of an F-550 dump truck and an F 350 pick-up truck equipped with lights, snow plows and salt spreaders through the Co-Stars program at a cost of $130,320.

Protected & Improved Our Environment

Approved Pollution Reduction Plan: After extensive public comment, the Township submitted a revised Pollution Reduction Plan to the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP required a reduction in 10% in sediment runoff over 5 years in order to qualify for a renewal of its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4 Definition) permit. [Read "Newtown Township Revises Pollution Reduction Plan After Hearing Resident Comments"]

Passed a Native Plant Resolution: Affirming that native plants are better adapted to local soils and climate, the board of supervisors unanimously passed a resolution at the August 14, 2019, meeting saying that "every reasonable effort" will be made to plant native species on township-owned property. The measure also states that the township's Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) will do everything "to educate and empower" the public to help transition private properties to include native plants. [Read the resolution here.]

Approved Planting of Native Trees in Roberts Ridge Park: Township Manager Micah Lewis – who was trained as a landscape architect – endorsed the plan, which the supervisors voted unanimously in favor of. [For details, read "Newtown Township Approves Residents' Plan to Plant Native Trees in Roberts Ridge Park"]

Red outline outline the proposed meadow area.
Supported Sensible Development

Supported the Revitalization of the Newtown Village Shopping Center: Approved several new restaurants including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Bomba Tacos & Rum, Iron Hill Brewery, MOD Super Fast Pizza, and Solstice Restaurant. [See details here and read "Parking & Traffic in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center".]

Authorized Update to Comprehensive Plan: Approved Bucks County Planning Commission to undertake the Joint Comprehensive Plan Update. The township also passed a resolution that authorizes the submission of an application to the Municipal Assistance Program (MAP Definition) for a matching grant available via the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to be used for the purpose of updating the Plan.[For background, read "It’s Time for Newtown Township to Update Its Comprehensive Plan!" and See details here]

Opposed Durham Road Development: For the first time in a long time - maybe the first time ever! - the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted to send the Township Solicitor to a Zoning Hearing Board meeting to oppose the awarding of variances to a developer. [Read "Supervisors Oppose Variances for 27 Townhouses on Durham Road".]

Practiced Fiscal Responsibility

Passed a 2020 Budget Without Raising Taxes

Applied for and won a matching DCED $40,000 Matching Grant to assess the township’s financial condition and develop a Five-Year Financial Plan. [More here.]

Supported BCATO Definition resolution to lobby state lawmakers to restore municipalities' ability to adopt and collect a mercantile or business privilege tax in Townships that specifically elect to adopt such tax.

Advanced the Well-Being of Citizens

Supported BCATO Definition resolution to lobby state lawmakers to require licensed real estate agents to disclose municipal zoning and what is allowed within 1000 feet to a prospective purchaser.

Applied for a Grant for a Lower Dolington Road Multi-use Trail. [Read more about that here.] Subsequently, Newtown Township was awarded $125,000 from DCED ($0 match requirement), and $250,000 from DCNR Definition(50% match required) for a total of $375,000. The award amounts do not equal the requested amounts, however the Twp may be able to supplement the amount with additional grants - or alter the scope of work to stay consistent with the awards. [More here].

Took a Step Toward Building a Newtown Creek Bridge: Supervisors passed a resolution in support of exploring the feasibility of building a footbridge over Newtown Creek at the location of the historic trolley bridge between Frost Lane and Durham Road.

Posted on 04 Jan 2020, 01:29 - Category: Governance



Excerpts from 2019 BOS Meeting Minutes

This document is a collection of selected excerpts of approved minutes from the official 2019 public meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). Not included are minutes from the last meeting of the year (December 11, 2019). For the complete official minutes of meetings, please go to the Newtown Township website.

The excerpts are arranged by category in chronological order. Access the PDF version here.

For definitions of technical terms, please visit the “Newtown Area Municipal Glossary”.

 

Also access excerpts of minutes going back to 2014 according to specific issues under the following headings:

Development

Environment

Fiscal Responsibility

Good Government

Public Health

Public Safety

Posted on 18 Dec 2019, 01:10 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



(UNOFFICIAL) 2019 Voting Record of Newtown Supervisors

I've been keeping track of how Newtown Township supervisors voted on motions before the Board. The following is the voting record for 2019 based on the approved minutes of meetings.

NOTE: This is NOT an official record of votes. Some very minor motions, such as to approve minutes, bills lists, etc., are not included. Please refer to the BOS meeting minutes for the official voting record of each meeting.

Download a PDF version here.

Posted on 14 Dec 2019, 12:57 - Category: Open Records/Transparency



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This site is paid for and approved by John Mack: john@johnmacknewtown.info
The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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