Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes
The following is a brief summary of the October 10, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack, member Kyle Davis and member Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.
2018 Audit Presentation: Ed Furman of Maillie, LLP, the Township’s independent auditor, presented an overall summary of the final 2018 audit [read "2018 Audit Presentation"]. He stated they issued a clean, unmodified audit report on financial statements along with a Statement of Auditing Standards 114 Report to the Board which reflected nothing negative. Mr. Furman reviewed the audit testing process and methods used to conduct the audit as well as the findings related to payroll, retiree medical coverage and pensions. He discussed revenue and expenses, taxes and government funds. He closed by saying the Township finished 2018 above recommended numbers with the fund balance being 22% of general fund revenue. In response to Mr. Mack’s questions on the earned income tax EIT Definition), Mr. Lewis explained the residential EIT increased.
Mr. Calabro asked about the overall status of the Township and Mr. Furman explained that bond rating agencies generally focus on the general fund and look for 8 to 12% revenue. Therefore, Newtown Township is well above average at 22%.
[Afterward, Township Manager Micah Lewis offered this clarification to Supervisors via email: "I wanted to take a minute to clarify the confusion surrounding the Residential EIT statement in the 2018 Audit. The statement in the management discussion portion of the audit that 'EIT continues to rise' refers to the general trend in Resident/Non-Resident EIT collection. It is true that Resident EIT decreased last year, however the trend is still increasing 4 out of the 5 previous years. I will work to clarify this statement in next year's Audit. Also - the figure in that portion of the Management Discussion represents the Resident EIT figures from 2018. I believe we will continue to see a rise in Resident and Non-Resident EIT as the Village at Newtown comes online with the new facilities. This is also an example of how 'volatile' the source of revenue is. One year the figures can increase drastically, and the next they can fall." Below are the numbers and charts regarding EIT and Total Tax Revenue trends.]
September 2019 Police Report: Chief Hearn reported for the month of September the Police Department responded to 1,794 calls for service. Among them were 55 traffic citations, nine arrests, four DUI’s, two narcotics related and one burglary. The Chief said there was a police officer on location for every school opening and there was a successful enhanced lockdown drill held on October 8. [For details, see "September 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: Speeding Citations Drop".]
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Newtown Fire Association: Mr. Mack reported the Newtown Fire Association is applying for a $200K firefighters grant, the apparatus committee continues to meet, and he summarized results of the beer fest.
Veterans Committee: Chuck Resch, member and chaplain of Newtown American Legion Post 440 reported that their general meeting is held the third Tuesday of every month and they are always looking for new members. He reminded all that the well-maintained Post building caters many events and is available for rental to the public. Mr. Resch reviewed upcoming activities and events which can also be found on their website. He shared that the Post provides an Honor Guard every Friday for Washington Crossing National Cemetery, members also volunteer at the Cemetery administrative building and they participate in unattended burials.Read More...
Posted on 25 Oct 2019, 01:01 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes
The following is a brief summary of the September 25, 2019, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and member Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander. Member Kyle Davis was absent.
RFP for 5-Year Financial Plan: [Read "Newtown Township To Develop a 5-Year Financial Plan" for background.] Mr. Lewis reported the Township received one response to the RFP. He recommended forwarding the response to the Finance Committee for review and upon review come back to the BOS with a recommendation. Mr. Calabro agreed stating since the Finance Committee formatted the RFP, they should be involved in the vetting process. Mr. Mack questioned the receipt of only one proposal and Mr. Lewis explained that ten firms responded, however only one proposal was received. As the liaison for the Finance Committee, Mr. Fisher said the Committee would like to review the proposal. There was further discussion on whether to move forward with one proposal and the process on how to reissue if necessary. It was agreed that Mr. Lewis will pass the response to the Finance Committee to review and they will then report their findings to the BOS and possibly bring the candidates in to meet the Board.
August 2019 ESD Report: Chief Forsyth reported during August the ESD responded to 91 calls for service including one building fire, two dwelling fires and two vehicle extrications. He reviewed the training hours and inspections completed. The Chief also said there was one new firefighter sworn in and he thanked four emergency service workers for spearheading the hiring process. He also reported that the ESD, along with the PD attended two days of active shooter incident training. Chief Forsyth also said that approval is needed to extend the Fire Service Agreement through 2020.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Human Relations Commission: Mr. Mack shared information from the Human Relations Commission stating two members will not be looking to be reappointed resulting in two openings at the end of the year. He said the HRC is looking into more public outreach and would like their information to be published on the Township website. Mr. Lewis said they must send the information to the Township and it will be updated on the website.
Posted on 24 Oct 2019, 14:27 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes
The following is a brief summary of the September 11, 2019, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.
Villas of Newtown – Motion to Draw Down Financial Security: Bill Posner, President of the Villas of Newtown (VON) HOA thanked Mr. Mack for reaching out and meeting with VON board members and touring the areas of concern. Since Mr. Mack encouraged the VON board to try to come to an agreement with the builder, they met with John McGrath and Dennis Work from the Township engineer’s office to go over punch list items. Some items can be completed in short order, but the detention basin continues to be the main area of concern. Mr. McGrath indicated he could have the punch list finished by November 26. The VON board is skeptical due to many previous broken deadlines however they decided it would be alright to delay until first board meeting after November 26 to give Mr. McGrath yet another chance to complete the work. In the event the work was not done by that time, Mr. McGrath has agreed to waive any right to that money. Mr. Posner also suggested another option would be for the BOS to pass the motion and consider giving Mr. McGrath the opportunity to get the work done. Mr. Mack suggested we hear from Mr. McGrath.
Mr. Calabro asked where the residents stood on this issue and several came forth to provide feedback. The feedback was mixed with some residents happy with basin as is and the work that has been done and others in disagreement wanting the basin repaired along with final completion of the punch list. Conversation ensued on how the basin should operate, the As-Built plans and whether or not Mr. McGrath will complete work by November 26. The consensus was due to Mr. McGrath’s history of noncompliance over the years most do not feel confident he will live up to his word this time.
Friends of Roberts Ridge Park Presentation: Resident Elen Snyder, founder of Friends of Roberts Ridge Park stated she formed the group in response to the meadow plan put out by the Township. Ms. Snyder stated the community had concerns with losing shaded areas of the park with the introduction of the meadow plan. In order to regain shade in the park, the community has come together with a plan to add trees back into the park via donations. Over 100 families joined the group and the proposal is to plant 32 trees. Joyce Ely of the Neshaminy Watershed Association has partnered with the group and explained the environmental benefits the native trees will provide. Mr. Fisher asked if donations were still being accepted and Ms. Snyder said they will be accepting them for next year and information can be found at Friends of Roberts Ridge Park on Facebook.
[More details provided by John Mack, not in minutes: "I am very pleased that residents and local area environmentalists are supporting this plan. Not only does it provide a much-needed boost to the Township’s Pollution Reduction Plan, it also enhances the open space of the park for recreational activities such as flag football organized by residents and children's “Super Soccer Stars” classes organized by the Township’s Parks and Recreation Department. It's a win-win for the Township, proving that there is such a thing as ROE – Return on Environment."]
August 2019 Police Report: Chief Hearn reported the department responded to 1,617 calls for service, 60 traffic accidents, made 8 arrests and issued 190 traffic citations. There was one incident of an officer administering Narcan successfully and one suspected death related to narcotics. Focus continues on truck enforcement and aggressive driving throughout the township. Two officers received a letter of commendation for outstanding police work while off duty. [Read "August 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: Traffic Citations Down, One Life Saved By Narcan" for more details.]
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Newtown Fire Association Meeting: [Report by John Mack, not included in minutes.] On August 26, 2019, I attended the Newtown Fire Association monthly meeting. Dennis Fisher was also there. There was ongoing discussion regarding activities of the Apparatus Investigating Committee to develop goals and timelines. The next meeting of that committee is on Sept 23, 2019.
The NFA is also applying for a $200,000 federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant. This funding is for critically needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel to recognized standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability, and support community resilience. They are getting professional help to apply for the grant.
The NFA is looking into doing more on social media. There will be a social media tent at the beerfest and the Association is thinking of following the lead of the Newtown Police Department in opening a Nextdoor account to reach out to residents.
Bucks County Commissioners Meeting: [Report by John Mack, not included in minutes.] LED Street Light Fund: On September 4, 2019, I attended the Bucks County Commissioners meeting, which was held at the Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor Center. At that meeting, the Commissioners passed Ordinance 160, which authorizes the issuance of a “Participant Note” in the amount of $396,000 to fund the conversion of municipal street lighting to energy and cost saving LED lights. I was told that municipalities could borrow from this fund at a rate much lower than a rate offered by banks.
Newtown Township maintains 1,674 street lights. The Township spends considerable money repairing those lights, which frequently burn out, and paying for electricity to keep them lit.
Looking over the Bills Lists for 2019, I find that the Township has so far this year spent over $70,000 repairing these lights – ie, replacing the bulbs, etc. – and nearly $90,000 to PECO for electricity costs.
Both these costs would be significantly reduced if we replaced our street lights with an LED system- something that Newtown Borough has already done several years ago. Converting to LED street lights could cut energy costs significantly and also the costs of repairs.
Replacing street lights with LED lights can be costly. But the cost will be recouped in as little as 6 years. I hope that Newtown someday in the not too distant future can afford to borrow the necessary funds to make this technology upgrade and save money in the long run.
I notice that there is only $59 in the Street Light Fund according to the 2019 budget.
At some point, Newtown Township has to enter the 21st Century. This is just one example of that need.
Environmental Advisory Council Meeting: Mr. Fisher reported the Environmental Advisory Council is working on a revision of the SALDO Definition focusing on native plants. They are also exploring green infrastructure projects around bicycles and pedestrian accessibility.
Posted on 27 Sep 2019, 13:32 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes
The following is a brief summary of the August 14, 2019, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.
Good Communications/Good Government
Savvy Citizen Presentation: Mr. Mack confirmed that the Savvy Citizen representative will be attending the September 16 work session.
At the Last Board meeting it was proposed that a Savvy Citizen representative be invited to attend a future work session. Recall that Savvy Citizen offers a mobile phone based notification system that can inform citizens of meetings, public service notices, Parks and Rec programs, road closures, emergencies, etc. Soon after that meeting, I notified Mr. Lewis that Jeralyn Brown, senior account manager at MSA, the company that is responsible for Savvy Citizen, confirmed that she can attend the Sept 16 Work Session and answer questions.
Villas of Newtown: Resident and president of the Villas of Newtown (VON) HOA, William Posner, addressed the Board on behalf of the VON community. He expressed concern that the motion to draw down financial security being held by the Township for completion of community improvements was removed from the agenda. Mr. Posner said he sent a position paper to the Township and received a response that work on site had commenced and therefore the item was removed until further details could be obtained. Mr. Posner then reviewed the recent history of the situation including interactions with the builder and relayed his concern that the work will not get done. He submitted signatures of approximately 90 residents supporting moving forward and asking for assistance to bring this matter to conclusion.
Mr. Davis acknowledged the issues VON residents have had and assured that the BOS will follow through according to the guidelines. Mr. Calabro added that the BOS wants to see this completed and pressure on the builder will continue and if necessary legal action will be taken in the proper stages.
Native Plant Resolution: George Skladany from the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) presented a resolution to support the increased use of native plants in the Township in order to benefit the community as a whole and improve the quality of life. He thanked the BOS for their support of EAC activities including this one and the pop-up garden in conjunction with the Audubon Society.
Mr. Mack questioned where residents might obtain a definition and list of acceptable native plants. Mr. Skladnay explained there were many lists and definitions as well as differing opinions on this topic and advised having some leeway could be beneficial. Mr. Mack agreed to accept the ambiguity and move forward. Mr. Fisher added that the EAC was discussing updating the SALDO and after some conversation around this subject it was determined the EAC will continue to work on providing a list of acceptable native plants.
Approve and Advertise RFP for 5-Year Financial Plan: Mr. Mack stated since the Plan was written the EIP has changed its name and he is requesting the new name be updated in the Plan. Mr. Sander agreed to replace all appearances of EIP with STMP. Mr. Mack then read excerpt on page 4, paragraph G relating to discrimination and said the Township has a new anti-discrimination ordinance which expands the definition* and he suggested the language that goes out to vendors and consultants should reflect our anti-discrimination ordinance.
Mr. Sander agreed and said he will work with Mr. Lewis to update all appearances to include the new anti-discrimination ordinance language.
July 2019 Police Report: Lieutenant Jason Harris reported the department responded to 1,600 calls for service during July including 12 arrests and 33 traffic accidents. Additionally, 286 traffic citations were issued. The aggressive driving campaign continued on Swamp and Eagle Roads with focus on commercial vehicles on Swamp and Stoopville Roads. [Read "July 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: 3d Wave of Aggressive Driver Campaign, Missing Persons, Terroristic Threats" for more details.]
June & July 2019 EMS Report: Chief Forsyth reported the Fire Department had 113 calls for service during June and 130 in July. During June 82 fire safety inspections were conducted in the Township and there were 31 in July.
Mr. Fisher ... requested Chief Forsyth review gas grill location requirements. The Chief advised never put or use a gas grill on a second-floor balcony. He reminded all the code requirement is gas grills be at least 10 feet away from the home.
Mr. Mack inquired if the safety inspections were both residential and business and Chief Forsyth said inspections are for commercial buildings only.
Posted on 13 Sep 2019, 01:04 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes
The following is a brief summary of the July 10, 2019, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official APPROVED minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander. Supervisor Dennis Fisher was absent.
Savvy Citizen: In relation to the 2020 budget, Mr. Mack proposed the Township consider the Savvy Citizen app [a text/social media based resident notification system recommended by the Newtown Technology Committee] to provide information to residents at a cost of $300 per month. After some conversation it was determined a Savvy Citizen representative could be invited to attend a future work session to review details.
HOA Meetings: Mr. Calabro suggested the Administration contact HOA’s to schedule meetings to discuss community issues and concerns. He also said it would be a good time to obtain their input for the Comprehensive Plan Definition. Mr. Mack added that the Pollution Reduction Plan could also be addressed. It was agreed to revisit this issue going forward. [read "Newtown Revises Pollution Reduction Plan After Hearing Resident Comments"]
Conditional Use Definition – The Smile Company: Attorney Joseph Blackburn represented the applicant and presented the application for use D-2 medical office, abutting Harvest in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The space is 2,018 square feet and will house an orthodontics office in an existing building. The motion to approve passed 4-0.
Liquor License Transfer – Iron Hill Brewery: Application of Iron Hill Brewery, LLC for intermunicipal transfer of liquor license was presented by Joseph Blackburn who represented the applicant. The license was acquired from the PLCB auction from within the county.The motion to approve passed 4-0.
Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail Project "Rain Gardens": Mr. Mack inquired about the rain gardens and how far they extend on Dolington Road.
[More details provided by John Mack, not in minutes: In the Preliminary Construction Drawings (Exhibit 3), I see “Rain Gardens” as for example on page 18, which shows the trail at Lower Dolington Road and Frost Lane. Q: How far south from Frost Lane is it proposed to build these gardens along Lower Dolington? Q: I was wondering if this would impact access to Roberts Ridge Park from Lower Dolington Road? Many residents park their cars along Lower Dolington for easy access to the children’s playground and open space in the park. I’ve often thought that it would be a good idea to provide steps up the steep hill to make it easier for children and grandparents to get up the hill and walk to the playground I am all for “Rain Gardens,” but from the drawings it appears that they would prevent people from parking there.]
Mr. Lewis explained they would stop near playground area and said the specifics will be finalized in the design phase.
Comprehensive Plan Definition: discussed the Jointure’s Definition Comprehensive Plan which is up for review and modification every ten years. According to the written statement by Mr. Fidler, “the Commission members discussed the Jointure’s Comprehensive Plan... Sharing information with residents and Township committees before the Plan is due would enable productive planning. Using electronic and paper sources for information and feedback would provide a good cross section of residents. All responses would need to be verified that they are actually received from Newtown Township residents.”
In response to Mr. Mack’s questions on the Comprehensive Plan [More details provided by John Mack, not in minutes: "Is the PC recommending that the Township hold public meetings and survey residents as part of the process should it be decided to go ahead with updating the Comp Plan? Any specific suggestions for verifying responses are from actual residents?"], Mr. Fidler explained that the Joint Zoning Council Definition discussed getting input from residents and businesses by asking pertinent questions regarding their visions on improving the quality of life in the Jointure. Mr. Calabro stated the Board just received notification of the Comprehensive Plan and asked when the Board was expected to complete the process for the Plan. Mr. Fidler said the Planning Commission expects the process to last about one year. Mr. Calabro asked if there was any procedure for the Board at this time. Mr. Lewis said the Plan must be included the budget; it is not in the 2019 budget as it was not a proposal, however it will be included in the 2020 budget. The Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC) is asking the Board to pass a resolution in support of a formulation of the Comprehensive Plan. Ms. Bobrin asked who does the application for the grants and Mr. Lewis replied that it is the BCPC. He said the Township will ask the BCPC to come to future Planning Commission and Board meetings to review details. There was additional discussion on cost and payment, surveys, responsibilities and the aggressive timeline.
It was agreed that sharing information with residents and township committees before the Plan is due would enable productive planning.
June 2019 Police Report: Chief Hearn reported there were 1,603 calls for service during June. There was one death investigation, two non-fatal overdoses and four arrests. Two arrests were for DUI, one for bank fraud and the other domestic assault. [Read "June 2019 Newtown Township Police Report: Traffic Citations Drop, But Don’t Get Complacent!" for more details.]
Chief Hearn then informed all that in addition to Facebook and Twitter, the Police Department is now participating in the Next Door app which gives residents another social media outlet to obtain information from the Department. Mr. Mack said he was pleased to see the PD posting on Next Door since many residents use the app.
[More details provided by John Mack, not in minutes: DRUGS I note the discouraging trend in Overdose Calls since these data were recorded: • 2017: 22 • 2018: 15 • 2019: 20 if trend continues (10 as of end of June) In other words, we are not likely to see a significant decrease in the 3 years from 2017 through 2019. ]
June 2019 Emergency Services Report: Chief Forsyth reported the Fire Department had 117 calls for service during May. The department conducted 40 fire safety inspections in the township as well as a successful fire drill at the high school while students were still in attendance. Mr. Mack thanked the Chief for the expanded report and asked about the fires in May. Chief Forsyth explained the details.
Posted on 19 Aug 2019, 14:12 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes