Sunday, March 23, 2008

BoS Meeting 3/20/2008

Regular Meeting (agenda)

The local press passed on their opportunity to attend this night's relatively brief (43 minutes) Board of Supervisors meeting.  The concluding Executive Session was another matter.  It lasted 1-1/2 hours and was held to discuss two potential litigation matters. 

Supervisors' Comments

Supervisor Chuss reminded everyone that the Planning Commission 2008 Comprehensive Plan public hearing is Tuesday, March 25th at 7 PM and that there will be an open house at 6:30 PM.

Supervisor Howell noted that a citizen commented that the Comprehensive Plan (draft) was not yet on the Township website.  Nicholas thought that it couldn't be put up if it hadn't been approved.  Kline said that as long as it's clear that it's a draft and not yet approved, it can be online.  Because the Township offices are closed tomorrow, Howell said that he would send an email to (Tim) Weis to have it put up on Monday.  (Note:  the draft Comprehensive Plan is now online and available for download.)

Supervisor Nicholas reported that the Forks Community Days committee met this past Monday and that they are "starting to get going."  The next meeting will be Monday, April 21st at 7 PM.  They welcome volunteers and are looking for a meeting secretary.

Treasurer's Report - Egolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 5:0 vote. Current outstanding debt is $7,910,079.

Standing Committee Reports (meetings are open to the public - see the Township calendar for dates and times)

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - said that newspaper advertisements for the fire training facility have been published.  Bids were originally due March 20 but that has been extended to April 1.  To date, no bids have been received but contact has been made with one or two bidders.  Pricing has been received for the police department modular furniture.  The HVAC issue in the police department is being addressed and the communications issue may be addressed (by the county) this week.  The next committee meeting is Monday, April 1 (5 PM).
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - said that the DPW is preparing the Gollub Park emergency access road and that the parks crew is working on the fields for spring sports - baseball, softball, and soccer. Miller said the weather is not cooperating.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - had no report but Miller did.  Miller said that the 26 basketball teams are winding down.  Eighteen of the teams finished their last games last weekend.  The other eight have won playoff positions and the finals are the first week in April.  All final games will be held at the Forks Community Center.  Miller also announced that the Community Center (CC) will host Summer Science Camps for kids 5-12 years.  The camps will be taught by school teachers and there will be five programs offered.  Miller said that he saw a demonstration in the CC atrium where 200 cups of made-before-his-eyes slim were given away by 1:30 PM.  The demo was to run from noon to 3 PM.  Howell asked about publicity and Miller said that the camp will take care of it but that the Township will do some advertising as well.  An ad will be in the next Forks Quarterly and Miller will be visiting some of the school principals to talk about it.  Miller said that the kids will build rockets and take them outside to shoot them off. The five programs being offered are:
    • Claws, codes, & constellations
    • Moving with science
    • Chemicals, cells, & crime
    • Red-hot robots
    • NASA - future space explorers
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - said that the new Township maps have been sent to residents and that she thought "they came out pretty nice."  Nicholas offered the credit for them to Howell since it was begun when he was on the committee.  The next edition of the Forks Quarterly is due soon and will have the award certificate (Second Place in the PSATS Citizen Communication Contest) on the front page.  Nicholas said that the committee meets next on April 7 at 6 PM.  (The date may be April 14 so please check with the Township office before going.) 
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - reported that the administrators have all submitted their goals for the year and that Finance Manager Farley has two items on the agenda - the items reflect the work of the committee.  Egolf also said that the committee will have a working session on the 2007 budget to review it for overages.  The date will be announced.  Also, Egolf said that the new system (audio/visual for the meeting room) is here and that Tim Weis will demonstrate it at an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - on vacation.

Engineer's Report - Hay - agenda items only.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that Lafayette College and the Township are close to execution of the lease for the college owned springhouse on Bushkill Drive.  They are agreement with all the language.  Howell added that the Forks Historical Society has already received a $5,000 grant for repair and improvements to the springhouse. 

Comments from the floor - None.


Financing of Public Works Equipment (Jim Farley) - Farley explained that the capital loan for DPW equipment was approved in the fall of 2007 (during the budget process).  It is to have a ten year pay back.  Farley said that since then the Township has been in discussion with its financial advisors, the ones carrying the bonds on the Municipal Complex.  Farley stated that "the market has been all over the place."  The committee has been looking at refinancing those bonds provided that there is sufficient savings. 

The committee has discussed asking the representative (advisor?) to go forward and broker a deal for the DPW money, using a traditional loan format with the exception that there be a "will call number" - when the potential savings of refinancing the entire bond issue exceeds $300,000, (he said) it would be prudent to refinance and save the significant dollars.

Farley asked the Board's approval to go with a traditional loan and at the same time, when the bid is open, to have the Township's broker look at the refinancing of the bond to determine if it's financially feasible. 

Howell asked Kline how to proceed if there is uncertainty as to whether the bond will be added to or renegotiated?  Kline explained that an ordinance is necessary every time a municipality takes on debt and that the Department of Community & Economic Development in Harrisburg must approve it.  The ordinance must indicate clearly the dollars and cents involved.  He also said that until the ordinance is adopted, it's okay to explore the options of which way to do the financing.  The Board took no action and the issue will go back to committee for further exploration.


Meyner Center of Lafayette College - Proposal to Survey (Jim Farley) - Farley explained that the Meyner Center does studies of government and how government interacts with other entities.  Farley added that in 2007, the Township negotiated two contracts, the uniformed and the non-uniformed employee contracts.  Research was done to determine the "market price" of salaries and wages.  The professional staff were not included in these contracts and no research was done on their salaries/wages. 

Farley said, too, that Schnaedter and David L. Woglom (Associate Director for Public Service at the Meyner Center) have discussed doing a study of the salaries of Forks professional staff as they compare to 20 local municipalities.  The study will cost $500.  Egolf made a motion to do the study.  Miller seconded the motion.

In discussion, Nicholas said that her only issue is that this is all public information and instead of spending $500 of taxpayers' money, she suggested the information be gathered via email.  Egolf said that Nicholas' reservations were known during the committee discussions.  His feeling is that the Meyner Center has "people who are trained to gather the data, compile it, analyze it, and put it in report form."  Egolf thought that if the Township does it on its own without the data being standardized, that there may be a lot of useless data at the cost of a lot of Township employees' time.  

Howell asked if there will some analysis indicating where salaries are and where they are going?  Nicholas said it will be (reading from a document) "a spreadsheet in easy to read format."  Farley offered that it will be an analysis of current salaries. 

The vote was 4:1 with Nicholas casting the nay.

PSATS - Voting Delegate (C. David Howell) - Howell explained that during the general session of the PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) annual convention, a number of resolutions and other matters subject to vote by municipalities are presented.  Schnaedter has indicated that he will attend the general session and has volunteered to be the Township's voting delegate. 

Howell said that if the Board agrees to appoint a delegate for the upcoming convention general session, that he would also like a voting delegate to be appointed annually at the January Re-Org meeting.

Nicholas asked if the delegate had to be a Supervisor and Howell said that it can be a Supervisor or an employee "under the authorization" of the Board of Supervisors.  Egolf asked if each Township has one delegate and was told that each has one voting delegate.

Jim Wideman (resident) asked if the agenda will be known beforehand?  Howell said that he was recently invited (and agreed) to be a member of the Board of the Northampton County Association for Township Officials.  All Forks Supervisors are members.  Howell said that the organization has worked on a number of resolutions to present to PSATS.  At some point, the resolutions that are to be on the floor at the general session will be known to the organization.  The answer to Mr. Wideman's question is "yes," that the agenda will be known beforehand and will be reviewed by the Forks Supervisors.  Mr. Schnaedter will be instructed how to vote.

Chuss said that he thought it a good idea to appoint the voting delegate annually at the Board's January Re-Org meeting. 

Egolf motioned to send Schnaedter as a voting delegate to the PSATS meeting in May and that that a voting delegate be appointed annually at the Re-Org meeting.  Chuss seconded the motion.  The vote was 5:0.

Resolution #080320-1 - Application for PennDOT Permit to Install and Operate Traffic Signal at Uhler Road and Bushkill Drive (Keystone Engineering) - Hay explained that as part of the Chrin land development in Tatamy and Palmer, PennDOT has required this light be installed.  It will be paid for by Chrin and Forks will be responsible for its maintenance. 

Chuss said that he looked back through the two recent traffic studies and the draft Comprehensive Plan and that all three recommend this traffic light.

Howell asked about other intersection improvements.  Hay said that there will be widening and lane additions.  Nicholas remarked that Chrin's property does not touch this intersection.  She wondered how Chrin could be forced to do the improvements since Forks cannot require developers to do off-site (not contiguous)  improvements.  Kline explained that the Township cannot, but PennDOT can.  He said that the Township can "press" PennDOT when it needs improvements.  He added, "The real hammer is with PennDOT." 

The resolution was passed in a 5:0 vote. 

Executive Session - held to discuss two potential litigations.  No action was taken during or after the executive session.

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.

No comments: