John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Governance Category

Township Supervisors Are a Rare Breed

Those unfamiliar with the role of a township supervisor may wonder: What exactly do we do?

The Q1 2019 Townships Today newsletter published by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors was created to educate the public about the job of the township supervisor (see below). Most people don't realize the hard work and sacrifices involved in public service. As Local Government Week nears, this is the perfect opportunity to start building that understanding.

You can learn more about how I spend my time as Supervisor by viewing my Monthly Supervisor Reports here.

Posted on 12 Feb 2019, 01:01 - Category: Governance

The Reorganization of Newtown Township's Leadership 2019

Organization of the Board of Supervisors

  • Phil Calabro elected as Chairman
  • Linda Bobrin elected as Vice-Chairman
  • John Mack elected as Secretary/Assistant Treasurer

REPORTING DIRECTLY TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO SERVE THE TOWNSHIP WITH COMPENSATION FOR 2019

  • Micah Lewis appointed as Township Manager
  • Micah Lewis appointed as Township Treasurer [Mr. Lewis explained that as treasurer he is responsible for accounts payable and receivable and the budget process. Having the manager as treasurer is a common practice in Pennsylvania.]
  • The Law Offices of Sean Kilkenny appointed as Township Solicitor
  • Briana Stobbe appointed as Board of Supervisors Recording Secretary
  • Extend contract of Kurt M. Ferguson as Management Consultant ($18,000 for "Professional Services" is included in the 2019 budget to cover this expense)

REPORTING TO THE TOWNSHIP MANAGER TO SERVE WITH COMPENSATION FOR 2019

  • Remington & Vernick Engineers as Township Civil Engineers and Building Inspectors
  • T&M Associates as Township Traffic Engineers and for GIS  services
  • The law firm of Curtin & Heefner as Township Labor Attorneys
  • Remington & Vernick Engineers as Township Civil Engineer, General and Environmental Engineer and Lighting Consultant
  • Mockenhaupt Associates as Township Actuaries
  • Dahab Associates as Township Pension Investment Advisor
  • H.A. Thompson, The Hartford, Standard Insurance, Delaware Valley Workers Compensation Trust, Delaware Valley Insurance Trust, Delaware Valley Health Insurance Trust and ADP Services as brokers or carriers of Township Insurance and employee benefits
  • CKS Engineering as Township Planners
  • First National Bank of Newtown, T.D. Bank, Invest of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust (PLGIT), First Priority Bank, and Univest Bank Corporation as Township Depositories
  • Maillie LLP as the independent auditor to audit the accounts of Newtown Township for fiscal year 2018
  • Video Gold for Video Production
  • Glenn Forsyth as Emergency Management Coordinator and fire code official

BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS INDIVIDUALS SERVING WITHOUT COMPENSATION (partial list)

  • Appoint Amber Ray (2019), Angelic Ranck (2019), Joe O'Neill (2019), Aamir Nayeem (2019), Mercy Ingraham (2019) to Human Relations Board
  • Appoint Jack Brod (2019), Dick Weaver (2019), George Skladany (2019), Peg Dissinger (2019), Mark Boada (2019), Stu Caplan (2019), David Oxley (2019) to Finance Committee
  • Appoint Jack Brod (2019), Dick Weaver (2019), George Skladany (2019), Peg Dissinger to Planning Commission (4-year term)(2019), Mark Boada (2019), Stu Caplan (2019), David Oxley (2019) to Finance Committee
  • Affirm the appointment of Brandon Wind (2019), Timothy Potero (2020), Michael Iapalucci (2021), Bill Wall (2022) and to appoint Josephine Vlastaris (2023) to Zoning Hearing Board (5-year term)
  • Peg Dissinger appointed to Vacancy Board (1-year term)
  • Affirm appointment of Denis D'Arcy(2019), Joel Grosso (2019), Catherine Anne Porter (2019), Sue Sutton (2020), and Rachel Chafetz (2020), and to appoint Mark Stout (2020), Kathy Kelly (2021), Robert Wolf (2021), Andy Levine (2021) to Parks & Recreation Board (3-year term)
  • Affirm the appointment of Jeannette Rogers (2019), Lisa Ray (2020), David Wolcott (2021), and to appoint Craig Deutsch (2022) to Newtown Area Joint Historic Commission (4-year term)
  • Affirm the appointment of Joseph McKernan (2019), William Mahler (2020), Peggy Driscoll as Planning Commission Liaison (a voting member), Mary Donaldson (2021) and Remington & Vernick Engineers as (Building Inspector), and to appoint Mike Crane (2022) and Harriet Beckert (2022) to Historical Architectural Review Board (4 Year Term)
  • Affirm the appointment of Michael Gallagher (2019), Gerry Couch (2020), and Jerry Schenkman (2022) to Newtown Joint Municipal Sewer Authority Board (5-year term)
  • Amy Easterly, George Skladany,  Neil Schnitzer, and Brenna Luczyszyn  appointed to Environmental Advisory Council (3-year term)
  • Appoint John Mack as Tax Collection Committee Delegate and Micah Lewis as alternate to Tax Collection Management Committee
  • Affirm the appointment Dan Paramesh (2019), Jonathan Schnell (2019), Jack Melvin (2020), Tim Clausz (2020), Angela Poston (2020), and to appoint Premsun Rajesh (2021) and vacant (2021) to Technology Committee (3 Year Term)

LIAISON & COORDINATION ASSIGNMENTS

  • Bucks County Association of Township Officials: John Mack
  • Bucks County Community College: Phillip Calabro
  • Community Service Organizations: Kyle Davis
  • Council Rock School Board: Linda Bobrin
  • Council Rock Senior Center: Dennis Fisher
  • Homeowners Associations: John Mack/Linda Bobrin
  • Historical Architecture Review Board: Kyle Davis
  • Joint Zoning Council Board: Supervisors (all)
  • Newtown American Legion Ambulance Squad: Kyle Davis
  • Newtown Borough Council: Phillip Calabro
  • Newtown Fire Association: John Mack/Dennis Fisher
  • Newtown Joint Historical Commission: Kyle Davis
  • Joint Municipal Sewer Authority: Linda Bobrin
  • Parks and Recreation Board: Kyle Davis/Linda Bobrin
  • Planning Commission: Phillip Calabro/Linda Bobrin
  • County Tax Board: Dennis Fisher
  • Environmental Advisory Council: Dennis Fisher
  • Technology Committee: John Mack/Kyle Davis
  • Finance Committee: Dennis Fisher
  • Veterans Committee: Linda Bobrin

Posted on 27 Jan 2019, 10:21 - Category: Governance

Agenda Highlights for January 23, 2019 BOS Meeting

The following are highlights from the official agenda of the January 23, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. BOS meetings begin at 7 PM and are held in the Newtown Township Public Meeting Room, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA. Access the full agenda here.

Presentation 

2018 Fire and Emergency Service Study - Dr. Harry Carter, Ph.D. For a summary of the recommendations proposed, read “Newtown Township Releases the 2018 Fire and Emergency Services Study

Land Development

Bucks County Community College - Waiver of Stormwater Management Requirements

Manager's Report

Resolution establishing procurement procedures for the hiring of professionals for Pension Plans, in accordance with Act 44 Definition.

Consideration to approve a Resolution making a supplemental appropriation of funds in the 2019 Budget to allow $40,000 to be allocated for the DCED Early Intervention Program Grant. Listen to Andrew Sheaf, Local Government Policy Manager at the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED Definition) as he answers Newtown Township Board of Supervisors' questions about the Early Intervention Program (EIP) at the November 19, 2018 Work Session meeting.

Motion to purchase 3 police vehicles through Fred Beans Inc. through COSTARS in the amount of $92,269.00.

Motion to purchase lighting and equipment for 3 police vehicles through HAVIS, Inc. through COSTARS in the amount of $36,730.08

Note: The Township received a Keystone Community Grant of $94,000 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be used for the purchase of two (2) police Harley Davidson motorcycles and a Ford F-250 Pickup Truck (see here).

Motion to advertise for the purchase of two police motorcycles, lighting, and equipment through PennBID

PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR DefinitionGrant Discussion: Mr. Lewis has been identifying grant opportunities to implement the trail plan. The priority is to complete the Lower Dolington Trail funding as it is the number one trail on the list. The DCNR recreation and conservation grants program will be accepting applications from January 22 to April 10, 2019.

Posted on 21 Jan 2019, 12:23 - Category: Governance

Newtown Township BOS 2018 Accomplishments

The following are some notable accomplishments of the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) in 2018. 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!

Took Action to Enhance the Safety of Residents
  1. Hired a New Police Chief

  2. Named a New Township Manager: Micah Lewis (previously Assistant Manager)

  3. Hosted a public meeting on September 12, 2018, at which several PennDOT officials answered questions from residents and Supervisors concerning Swamp Road Traffic. Several suggestions for improving safety, including initiating a speed study to see if the speed limit can be lowered, were considered; see video:

  4. Passed a Gun Safety Resolution (Resolution 2018-R-17, passed by 4-1 on June 13, 2018) that calls for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the United States Congress to enact laws to reduce gun violence. Council Rock High School students commented in favor of a gun safety Resolution Definition before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors:

  5. Passed Resolution 2018-R-20 requesting a Keystone Community Grant of $94,000 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be used for the purchase of two (2) police Harley Davidson motorcycles and a Ford F-250 Pickup Truck to support community policing efforts and truck enforcement. We got the grant! More...

  6. Commissioned a Fire and Emergency Services Study. In February, 2018, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of a consultant to undertake “an organizational, effectiveness and overall efficiency study on staffing levels, facilities, apparatus needs, equipment, administration, financials pertaining to the fire service and the services of the department serving our community.” The final Fire and Emergency Services Study was completed in December, 2018. Find a list of major recommendations here.
Took Action to Fight Opioid Crisis

Filed a Civil Action Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

With regard to the opioid crisis, I have said (here) that we can’t educate doctors and patients on the effects of opioids and combat the overdose epidemic without addressing the source of the problem: pharmaceutical companies.

At the December 12, 2018, meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 in favor (Kyle Davis voted nay) of authorizing Marc J. Bern Partners, LLP, & Cordisco & Saile, LLC to file suit against the manufacturers, promoters, and distributors of synthetic prescription Opioid medications on behalf of Newtown Township.

The following video clip documents the discussion before the vote was taken:

Improved Tracking of Police Calls for Drug Overdoses and Narcan Use

In order to help combat the opioid overdose epidemic, we must keep track of the numbers, especially numbers that document the use of Narcan by our police force and the commend those officers who go beyond the call of duty to rescue people with Narcan.

As of November 30, in 2018, Newtown police saved 3 people from dying of opioid overdose by using Narcan. Interim Police Chief Harris informed the BOS that on October 23, 2018, Officer Frank Goodwin administered Narcan to a young woman in cardiac arrest due to a drug overdose. The Chief noted that Officer Goodwin’s actions surely saved this person’s life.

Last year, police alone in PA have saved more than 9,000 people from dying of opioid overdose by using Narcan. EMS agencies were responsible for 12,000 rescues. 

Took Action to Protect Our Environment

Passed Anti-Fracking Resolution

A the March 28, 2018, Newtown BOS meeting, the Supervisors by a 4-1 vote (Kyle Davis voting nay) passed Newtown Resolution 2018-R-10,  which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.” [Read “Newtown Township Supports a Complete & Permanent Ban on Fracking and Related Activities”]

Unfortunately, the Resolution was submitted to DRBC after the deadline. At the June 13, 2018, public meeting of the DRBC, I summarized the major points of the Resolution and asked that the Resolution be added to the public comment docket regarding DRBC’s Proposed Draft Regulations Addressing Hydraulic Fracturing.

Practiced Fiscal Responsibility

Passed the 2019 Budget Without Raising Taxes

The proposed package, which was approved in a 5-0 vote at the Dec. 12 meeting, is a little more than three percent higher than the 2018 budget but includes no property or other tax hike.

According to the budget, Newtown will end the 2018 fiscal year on Dec. 31 with an estimated budget surplus of $2,538,208, which is about what was earlier projected. However, Supervisors Davis and Mack questioned whether this so called ‘net fund balance’ is adequate to ensure the township’s future financial stability, of if a higher amount is needed on the books to ensure a healthy fiscal picture for township auditors.

“It’s a concern, it’s getting lower and lower every year,” stated Mack.

Last year at this time, the township ended fiscal year 2017 with a $3.14 million net fund balance. Chairman Calabro also expressed his concerns of the dwindling surplus, noting, “We need to find ways of raising revenues in the future.”

Established the Newtown Township Finance Committee

Resolution 2018-R-12,  signed on March 28, 2018, states "It is the mission of the Finance Committee (NTFC), in cooperation with the Board of Supervisors and the Township Manager, to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors related to matters associated with finance, budgeting, debt service, investments and long-range planning."

At the September 26, 2018, BOS meeting, Jack Brod, Chair of the NTFC, presented the Committee's first-ever report to the Newtown Board of Supervisors. Play the following video clip to hear the details:

Established a Human Relations Commission

On November 28, 2018, Newtown Township became the FIRST Township in Bucks County to pass an Ordinance Definition prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Specifically, the ordinance, a copy of which you can download here, safeguards the right of citizens to obtain and hold employment and public accommodation and to secure housing accommodation and commercial property "without regard to actual or perceived race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids, and to have equal access to postsecondary educational institutions."

The Ordinance becomes effective immediately upon the appointment of a Human Relations Commission by the Newtown Board of Supervisors. The Commission will handle complaints through a fact-finding conference with the parties of the dispute in order to resolve the dispute without the need to hire lawyers or go to court.

The BOS appointed 5 members to the commission at the January, 7, 2019, reorganization meeting. Find out who they are here
Approved Repaving of 2.3 Miles of Roads

In 2017 and 2018, 8.3 miles of roads were repaved for an average of 4.15 miles per year (read more on this here). This is an important threshold number. With 71.3 road miles and an average of a 20-year life, the Township would need to average 3.56 miles of road paving per year to keep up. For 2019, the BOS approved 2.34 miles of roads bringing the 3-year average to 3.54 miles per year. In 2020, when the Township expects to take out a new road improvement loan, the number may be closer to 5 miles of newly repaved roads. This program is accomplished without raising taxes! The following is the list of roads expected to be repaved in 2019:

Established the Newtown Township Veterans Committee

Via Resolution 2018-R-13,  signed on March 28, 2018, states "The mission of the Newtown Township Veterans Committee shall be to honor our many Veterans, aid in the planning, facilitation, and coordination of Veterans affairs in the Township and to work with existing Veterans organizations and Township residents to achieve this mission."

Rejected the Arcadia Green III PRD Application

On November 14, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny approval of a tentative Arcadia Green Planned Residential Development (PRD Definition) project! More…

“After listening to all the testimony, reading the reports of experts, and listening to residents of surrounding communities, I will vote to deny the current Arcadia PRD because I think it would be unsafe for residents of that development – should it go forward – to exit and enter the development. Also, let’s not forget the additional traffic it would bring to the intersection of Buck Road and the Bypass. Lastly, the plan for a U-turn to allow access to the Bypass is totally impractical, unsafe, and will cause major delays in my opinion, which seems to also be the opinion of PennDOT and other experts.” – John Mack’s comments made before the vote by BOS.
Introduced an Ordinance to Eliminate PRD from JMZO Zoning Ordinance

At the September 12, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, Solicitor David Sander introduced JMZO 2017-04, which is an ordinance amending the Newtown Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO Definition) to delete Planned Residential Development. The Board passed the ordinance by a 5-0 vote. See video below:

Approved Several Notable Eating/Drinking Establishments

The list includes:

  1. Nina’s Waffles (read “Nina's Waffles Coming to Newtown”),  
  2. Drive-thru Starbucks (although initially rejected; read “Drive-thru Starbucks is Back on Track!”),
  3. Newtown Brewery (read “Craft Beer Brewery, Food Trucks and Fun Coming to Newtown Commons This Summer”)
  4. Melt Shop, a grilled cheese store (read “Melt, a Grilled Cheese Store, To Open Newtown”)
  5. Cross Culture Indian Cuisine (read “New Cross Culture Indian Restaurant and Turning Point Breakfast/Lunch Restaurant Coming to Newtown Township”)
  6. Turning Point (breakfast & Lunch)

 

Posted on 31 Dec 2018, 14:46 - Category: Governance

Volunteers Needed for the NEW Newtown Township Human Relations Commission

On November 28, 2018, Newtown Township became the FIRST Township in Bucks County to pass an Ordinance Definition prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Specifically, the ordinance, a copy of which you can download here, safeguards the right of citizens to obtain and hold employment and public accommodation and to secure housing accommodation and commercial property "without regard to actual or perceived race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids, and to have equal access to postsecondary educational institutions."

Volunteer to Serve on the Human Relations Commission

The Ordinance becomes effective immediately upon the appointment of a Human Relations Commission by the Newtown Board of Supervisors ( BOS Definition). The Commission will handle complaints through a fact-finding conference with the parties of the dispute in order to resolve the dispute without the need to hire lawyers or go to court.

The Commission will consist of no fewer than three and no more than five members, who will serve overlapping terms of three years each. Members must be residents of the Township or individuals who work full-time within Newtown Township. No voting member of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission can hold any office in any political party.

Members of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission serve without salary but may be paid expenses incurred in the performance of their duties, as approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Members of the Commission must attend training and education seminars or sessions to acquaint themselves with the functioning of the Commission under the ordinance, as well as the terms, conditions and provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the operation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Send in Your Letter of Interest!

If you are interested in serving on the Commission, please submit a letter of interest and your resume (or short bio) by December 24, 2018. Send to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940. Or by email to oliviak@newtownpa.gov, or by fax to (215) 968-5368.

Posted on 06 Dec 2018, 01:25 - Category: Governance

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