Saturday, December 04, 2004

BoS Meeting 12/2/04

On 12/3/04 both Joe Nixon of the Morning Call and Gregg W. Bortz of the Express Times wrote excellent articles describing the Forks Board of Supervisors' discussion of the new PA HBO197, the Emergency Services Tax that may or may not become law for 2005 and also of the Board's discussion/decision of fee rates for non-residential developments. We appreciate their good work. We again will try to fill in the blanks for those of you who were unable to attend the meeting.

Immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance, Supervisor Holmgaard addressed Chairman Ackerman with a question about a new public works garage. He said that he had asked him about it earlier in the year and that Ackerman had told him that there was something in the works. He accused Ackerman of meeting in secret with developers. Ackerman explained that he had not but Holmgaard proceeded with his relentless attack. Ackerman said that a developer had asked him "what the Township needed" and he told him that it needed a new public works garage. The developer told him that he would be back in the Fall with a proposal. Apparently that proposal appeared on Township Manager Kichline's desk during the last week. Ackerman saw it the day before the meeting. (We were not told when Holmgaard saw it.) The plan did contain a new public works garage on Glover Road across from the fire department training area. It also contained a 500 house development in the FP (Farmland Preservation) district! Ackerman said that he was surprised. Holmgaard told him that he (Chairman Ackerman) was NOT an (sounded like) Uber Supervisor (he could have said OVER but it sounded like UBER). We were not informed of who the developer is nor which farmland is involved in this trade (of 500 houses in FP for a public works garage).

  • Supervisor Miller informed us that the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled for 7:00 PM Sunday, December 5, 2004 at the Community Center. He said that the tree this year was one that had been blown over in the recent winds. (For more on this see this 12/3/04 Express Times article by Jenna Portnoy.)
  • Township Manager Kichline reported that the Municipal Accounting Conversion was complete and that the Elected Auditor's meeting had been cancelled and rescheduled for January 4, 2005. She also reported receiving a letter from the Red Cross thanking Forks Township for its donations of bottled water and the $200 collected during the 250th to help flood victims.
  • Tim Weis reported that Matt Miller passed the final phase of his plumbers certification.
  • Township Manager Kichline was designated the Township's PEMA AGENT.
  • Pete Rossi was appointed (and accepted the appointment) to the Zoning Hearing Board to replace William Irish who resigned a month ago. His resignation was accepted by the Board (12/2/04).
  • Township Manager Kichline was given authorization to advertise current new vacancies.
  • Solicitor Kline reported that on 11/30/04 the Federal Court dismissed the lawsuit by the Delaware Nation. He gave us the "executive summary" version (the other option was to read MANY pages of court text). He said that the judge did not want to overturn the Walking Purchase and that the land was given to Chief Tatamy and not the Delaware Nation. There are some missing things in the land's provenance and perhaps Chief Tatamy's heirs might have an issue, but the Delaware Nation does not. (This Express Times article from 12/3/04 tells a bit more.)


  1. The Police Department move-in date of February 2005 is still on target.
  2. The footer for the municipal pad will be poured this week.
  3. The park maintenance building is on track and "Ed's got his heat back."

He presented the Board with updated project books and explained the Change Orders Summary. He said that "unsuitable soil" was removed from the Police Department and that the architect determined that it was a valid change order because of unusual circumstances. It will cost approximately $27.4K to dispose of the soil and it cannot be used any place else.

He described the destruction to the Firehouse roof trusses by the 55 mph winds on Thanksgiving day. He said that 80% of them were completely destroyed. The Township's insurance inspectors and the contractor's engineers are still assessing the damage. When the trusses came down they damaged other things (like some electrical and plumbing.) New trusses are ordered and the manufacturer has given him a two week lead time. The clean up of the mess was expected to be done by the end of the day Friday.

The FEE RATES/NON-RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS issue was REMOVED after discussion. Supervisor Hoff said that in lieu of fee reductions his limit would be a year of tax relief with no breaks on sewer fees. Holmgaard said that he was in favor or tax incentives and not of lowering taxes. Miller said that there should be no blanket policy and that some developments are good for Forks (like Fortune 500 and high tech companies.) Ackerman said that he was against lowering fees and that it should be left as it is. Hoff added that "we can discuss" some of the fees going to Emergency Services. Supervisor Nicholas was out-of-town on a business trip and not in attendance.

The 2005 BUDGET/PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT item was resolved when Pete Gheller reported that (Hoff's suggestion last meeting) he reviewed the original submission and discovered that he could remove $100K from the General Fund (budget line item) and instead use money from the Liquid Fuels Fund (generated by the census).

The RIVERVIEW WEST/FINAL PLAN - PHASE I discussion included Holmgaard pointing out the new State law re. street signs requiring that they go up in a development as soon as the first CO is issued. Also, the developer was made aware that there is a new size requirement for street signs. The developer has agreed to make up two (free) kits of street lamp parts for the township to use in the event that one gets damaged. The street lamp posts will be unique (in the Township) to the Riverview projects. Sidewalks are to be on both sides of Winchester Drive and on one side of all the project's remaining streets. The Final Plan was approved with the following condition, that all construction vehicles MUST use Winchester Drive.

The RESOLUTION DESIGNATING FIRE LANES discussion was informative. All fire lanes are being identified and redrawn. This is in order to get the schedule up-to-date. Tim Weis and Officer Nicholson are conducting the review. The new Giant owners were informed that their fire lanes were not up to code. They are making the corrections. Fire Lane Ordinance (of 1987) states that property owners must paint the areas and gives the police the right to ticket people who park there. A resolution is needed to add fire lanes. Because of all the new developments, it will be reviewed every 6 months along with the stop signs.

And, lastly the added agenda item, HOUSE BILL 197, was discussed. The governor has not yet signed this bill. In essence it allows municipalities to eliminate the OPT (Occupational Privilege Tax) and replace it with an Emergency & Municipal Services (EMS) Tax not to exceed $52/per working person (with exclusions for those earning less than $12K.) The tax would only be collected on those working IN the township. The monies collected are to go "for police, fire or emergency services; road construction or maintenance; or for the reduction of property taxes." Township Manager Kichline stated that if the Township approved the entire amount ($52/per person), that an additional $260K would be realized. Chairman Ackerman asked her how much the Township currently gets in OPT and she replied $250K. She was asked again. Same answer. That would equate to 25K people currently employed at jobs in Forks Township. We checked the budget draft and it appears to us that the correct current OPT figure is closer to 60K. Both the Morning Call and the Express Times reported a different figure of $61.4K. This is more like the budget. Holmgaard said that he wants all money above the $10/per person currently collected to go to Emergency Services, specifically the fire and police departments. Miller stated that it is okay to raise the taxes for emergencies and if done an increase of 1/4 mill would mean that the squads would no longer have to send out subscription cards. We learned that only 30% of the households that receive the subscription cards send in money! This is an astoundingly low figure. It means that only 30% of the Townships residents are helping to support our Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service! Solicitor Kline was authorized to prepare a resolution should the bill become law.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or Comment here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

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