John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Summary of September 9, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting

Summary of September 9, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting

Proposed 5-Year Budget Plan, Police Diversity, 2020 Road Program Update, LED Street Lighting, More...

The following is a brief summary of the September 9, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Zoom meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Public Comments

Econsult Report: Proposed 5-Year Budget Plan: Resident Frank McCarron submitted lengthy comments below grant-related revenue and the hiring of new police and fire officers, which are largely based on his review of local news articles and online posts. Please refer to the official minutes to see the full comment.

A few summary points made by Mr. McCarron were read at the meeting by John Mack:

  • Perform a benchmark comparison of grant revenues awarded elsewhere in Bucks County so money is not left on the table.
  • Project the cost savings of hiring part-time, non-civil service personnel.
  • Benefits of a career fire chief should be weighed against cost in light of the financial position of the township; “this approach was never right as the NFA owns the firehouses, trucks and equipment and so why would the Township expect to dictate procedures for using those assets.
  • Perform a benchmark comparison to Northampton Township to look for more cost-efficient ways of operating the NESD.
  • perhaps Newtown Township can at least delay hiring firefighters
  • Perform a separate examination of big ticket expense items.
  • Pursue greater diversity in hiring practices. 15% of CRSD North student population is non-white – in comparison Police Dept is ALL white

Police Report

Chief Hearn reported the department is still operating under Covid-19 precautions and responded to 1,686 calls for service during August including 22 arrests; there were 12 DUI’s, 41 traffic accidents, and 216 citations were issued. The Chief stated the truck enforcement initiative is ongoing, deer are back in season and were involved in 10 auto accidents, fraud continues and theft from vehicles is on the rise.


 

Referring to the testing candidates, Mr. Oxley asked if there were people of color participating in the test. Chief Hearn replied he did not attend the written test, only the physical agility test where he saw two African American males, several females, and a few Hispanic males, but not a dramatic number of applicants for that assignment. Mr. Oxley asked how the candidates for police officers are recruited and Chief Hearn detailed the process. Mr. Oxley asked how the Township can get the Police Department to reflect the community they serve which includes approximately 15% minorities. He suggested recruiting at schools and community colleges. The Chief said he is a firm believer in hiring the best candidate and said Newtown can to do a better job to find those candidates and he has been looking for other options besides the Bucks County Consortium. He encouraged everyone on the Board and community that knows someone who wants to be a police officer to please encourage them to pursue it. He added that diversity is more than race and reassured that the department was diverse.

Mr. Mack referred to an article in the Courier where the NAACP and Bensalem PD were working together to encourage Bensalem residents of color to consider becoming a police officer and asked Chief Hearn if the NAACP has ever reached out to him. The Chief said they have not and explained that Bensalem is a much larger department and does not use the Bucks County Consortium, but conducts their own recruiting, testing and application processing.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Board Members: Mr. Fisher reviewed three items from the Finance Committee meeting as follows:

  1. FC members are reviewing the ESI final draft final report and will provide comments by Friday, September 11, 2020.
  2. FC members are working on phase two of the communications plan and hope to have it ready for the September 23 BOS meeting.
  3. The FC recommended holding a public Township finance forum to discuss the findings of the ESI report.

Mr. Mack reported he attended the Act32 Bucks Tax Collection Committee meeting and he provided background on resident Greg Garber who had a tax question back in October, 2019. Mr. Mack invited Mr. Garber to the meeting to review his case and Joseph Lazarro of Keystone followed up with Mr. Garber. Mr. Mack also received a report on EIT collection and of note was Newtown Township is up $285K this year compared to the same time last year. He also said Keystone has a menu of reports the Township can order for free.

Mr. Oxley reported he attended the Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting where Matt Shanahan of Colliers spoke about what can be done to make Newtown more attractive to corporations as they like areas with amenities such as gyms, daycare centers, sidewalks and restaurants. Newtown Commons was discussed.

Reports of Officials

Engineer's Report: 2020 Road Program. Ms. Colubriale had no items to report, however she provided an update on the road program stating she issued notice to proceed to the contractor and anticipates they will start within the next two weeks. She said she is still waiting on the formal schedule.

Mr. Mack asked if the schedule will be publicized and Ms. Colubriale said it will be published on the Township website a few days before they start, and the contractor will post signs on the roads. He said the monthly report states Brixmor construction is substantially complete and the punch list is in progress; he inquired if the traffic study was part of the punch list. Ms. Colubriale said that it was and when the list is complete it will be sent to Brixmor.

2020 Roadwork Schedule
Swamp Rd (from the Bypass to Sycamore St) • Fountain Farm Ln • Newtown Gate Dr • Penns St • Upper Silver Lake Rd (part) • Silver Lake Rd (part) • Newtown Yardley Rd (Patch Paving between Tara Blvd & N. Penns Trail). More details here.

Solicitor's Report: Resolution extending outdoor sales and dining during COVID-19. Mr. Davis asked if the Township’s emergency declaration is tied to the State’s and Mr. Lewis said yes, it is. Mr. Calabro asked when Covid-19 is over if the outdoor dining can continue and Mr. Sander said yes, however it may need a new resolution. Mr. Sander suggested considering outdoor dining as amendment to the zoning ordinance and a brief discussion ensued.

New Business

LED Street Light Proposal: Mr. Mack reported he received an email from Lou Nazirides of Facility Solution Group on an LED streetlight proposal. He met with Mr. Nazirides who would like to make a presentation to the BOS. Mr. Mack shared the email with the BOS and said there is a lot in the plan that could save money and is asking the BOS for their thoughts. Mr. Fisher replied he is always interested in learning but doesn’t know if we are in a place for this now. Mr. Davis said it sounds like a good idea, but we don’t have the money to put out now and Mr. Oxley concurs with Messrs. Fisher and Davis. Mr. Calabro agrees with rest and suggested pushing it back to the beginning of year.

Newtown Ambulance Squad: Mr. Mack requested to invite Chief Evan Resnikoff of the Newtown Ambulance Squad to give a report comparing this year to last. Mr. Calabro said Mr. Lewis will touch base with him and ask him to give a report.

Votes on Motions

Download the UNOFFICIAL 2020 BOS Voting Record to date.

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. I may not have asked all the questions in the notes at the meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 29 Sep 2020, 12:23 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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