Sunday, November 22, 2009

BoS Meeting Notes - 11/19/2009

Regular Meeting (agenda)

This was a pre-holiday meeting with only one agenda item. Supervisors should have ripped through the meeting rather efficiently. In fact, they did - with the exception of a one hour plus Executive Session to discuss litigation, personnel, and real estate issues.

The tentative 2010 budget was approved in a 4:0 vote. Supervisor Nicholas was absent. No tax increase is expected for 2010!

Approval of the October 29th special meeting minutes was once again tabled. A memorial statue was offered and accepted for the Community Center grounds. And, Supervisors learned that the owner of one private home on Newlins Road East is seeking a real estate tax re-assessment.

Public Comments (non-agenda) -

  • Fritz Wiede, Forks resident, addressed the Board and reminded them that he was at the last BoS meeting and spoke about the "$3.5 million equipment shed." He asked if the Board had a chance to discuss the project since the last meeting. Chairman Howell said that there was discussion of the plans at a conceptual meeting (of the public works committee). Mr. Wiede said that he visited the "old equipment shed" and admitted that it is an outdated piece of equipment (from the outside - he did not go inside). He said that he's been a resident of the Township for 40 years and asked that the Board keep taxpayers in mind when it comes to paying $3.5 million. He added that he thought a price of $1 million would be enough and asked the BoS if a referendum has been considered so that the people can vote on this project. Howell explained that the Board did not feel a referendum to be necessary when the project originated. Howell suggested that any Board member who feels that there should be a referendum, advise Mr. Wiede. Mr. Wiede said that he will be back in January to ask the new Board members. He was told that they were both in the audience and he could discuss it with them in the lobby after the meeting. He chose to leave the meeting.

Supervisors' Remarks:

  • Supervisor Miller introduced Mr. Michael Kadjeski of Mechanicsburg, PA. He is the son of the late Robert Kadjeski, a long time figure in Fork Township athletics and a former Community Center employee. Mr. Kadjeski asked the Board's permission to erect a memorial statue on the grounds of the Community Center. He said that it will be financed entirely by the Kadjeski family and that site preparation work will be reimbursed to the Township. The memorial is a bronze statue of children playing on a log. Mr. Kadjeski said that he will personally guarantee maintenance and repair in the event of manufacturer's flaw or vandalism - for twenty years.

Of his dad, Mr. Kadjeski said that he was a 53 year resident of Forks and active in the 60s and 70s when there were only three sports for boys - football, basketball, and baseball. Now there is also lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, volleyball, etc. He was president of the Forks Township Athletic Association for a number of years. He was responsible for the first purchase of wrestling mats and now the wrestling program has its own building.

Mr. Kadjeski said that his father was very proud of the fact that the Community Center was more than just a place for kids in competitive sports. He and Miller coached at the Community Center and when Kadjeski retired from his job, Miller asked him to work there.

Howell said that he has seen the statue and that it is lovely and in very good taste. In fact, he said that it is the kind of statue that should be enjoyed in a 360 degree view. Howell said that the Board is honored to receive it and hoped that the family would revisit other areas of the park that may have a more appropriate site for it.

Miller offered that there is already a plaque and that Mrs. Kadjeski and her daughter looked at five different sites and wanted the statue located around the Community Center somewhere. Mr. Kadjeski said that the family did not want to be presumptuous but will certainly consider other spots for it.

The motion to accept the memorial statue was made by Miller and seconded by Egolf - subject to placement. The vote was 4:0.

  • Supervisor Chuss mentioned the upcoming openings on the various Township boards. The Planning Commission will have three vacancies - Tamborrino, Rizzo, and Billings. The Zoning Hearing Board will have one vacancy - Pappas. The Recreation Board will have two seats open - Reiter and O'Neil. And, the Vacancy Board will have one opening - Holmgaard.

The Vacancy Board position was discussed. It has never been advertised and has traditionally been filled by a former Supervisor. Solicitor Kline said that the appointed person only acts if there is a vacancy on the BoS and that the person appointed need not be a former Supervisor. In further discussion, the Board learned that Mr. Holmgaard intends to move from Forks. His home is for sale.

Chuss made a motion that all vacancies be advertised, with all applications due by the end of December, and that all applicants be interviewed in January, and appointments made by January 31st. Miller seconded and the vote was 4:0.

  • Supervisor Miller said that the Township currently has no policy regarding memorials in the park and he suggested that Township Manager Schnaedter look into it. There are several memorials in the park for Forks residents, including one for Colleen Supinski who was killed on 911 and one for Barry Bush, the FBI agent killed accidentally in the line of duty. Miller said that none of these came before the BoS but that there should be a policy that starts with the Township Manager or the Board.
  • Supervisor Egolf said that he attended the ground breaking for the Crayola solar farm this morning. He added that the project was started last year and aborted and is now alive again. The solar panels are manufactured in Ohio. There were about 100 people at the ceremony and Egolf said that it was noteworthy for Forks as it will likely get worldwide notice. The solar array "will power a good part of the manufacturing operation when it is up and shining." Howell added that the 15 acre site is one of the highest in Forks and that the project is part of the stimulus program ($1.4 million) and will provide 23 jobs.

Treasurer's Report - Egolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors' meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:0 vote. The Township's current outstanding debt is $7,756,832.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Howell - said that the committee met last week and discussed routine business plus the Borough of Emmaus' ordinance on animal population (specifically dogs and cats) within residential homes. According to Schnaedter, although it has worked out a system of appeals and inspections and passed an ordinance, Emmaus does not intend to enforce it. The Public Safety Committee therefore, recommends foregoing studying this any further as it does not want to approve a bill that will not be enforced. The bill would be too intrusive on homeowners. The next meeting is Tuesday, December 15th at 8 AM.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Chuss - reported that the committee's November 10th meeting was cancelled due to an emergency. The committee was also in the middle of the engineering firm interviews. The field of applicants has been narrowed from 31 to seven and after the seven were interviewed, the field is now down to four. Final public interviews will be Monday and Tuesday evenings from 7-9 PM in the Municipal Building.

Chuss said, too, that Kimmel and Bogrette's preliminary sketch has been received and that it is an interesting design. Costs were discussed and they were encouraged to keep them down. The firm will come back with a more finalized sketch which will be opened up to full Board review and comments by the public.

Egolf offered a "funny" story. He said that several years ago, a Sullivan County community was looking to build a storage building. There were people on both sides - spend more vs. spend less. The community built the lesser of the two buildings. The 1996 heavy snows collapsed the building. Egolf offered that he thinks "you get what you pay for."

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Egolf - gave credit to Jim Farley, Finance Manager, who has taken time to look at the the things going on in the athletic association program. Lots of spreadsheets have been prepared and both the Recreation Board and the AA were invited to the last committee meeting. It was a good meeting but no one from the Recreation Board attended. Egolf said that he is hoping that wires were simply crossed and that sooner or later both organizations will be at the table at the same time. He said that he was optimistic after a budget workshop when both the AA and the Recreation Board attended.

Egolf also said that the wrestling commissioner would like to start a "mat club" for off season wrestling designed for young kids interested in wrestling. A recommendation from the Board is needed and he would like to say to Dan Martyak that as soon as the AA gets a proposal together the Board will consider it.

Lastly, the AA is putting a new system for volunteers in place. They are not getting as many as they would like and will assess parents when they sign their kids up for programs - volunteer or pay a fee.

  • Community Relations - Supervisor Miller - said that Schnaedter is working on new additions to the newsletter. Miller said that his proposal will be presented at the next BoS meeting. Schnaedter offered that it is for the website and will be brought to the committee first.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Nicholas - Absent. The next meeting will be on December 9 at 5 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - reported that there was a recent meeting of the Northampton County Tax Collection District. Forks share is $1,456.55 which entitles it to 2.91% of the vote. The District meets once a month and he and Farley alternate attendance.

Howell asked how the 2.9% was arrived at and Farley said it was based on confirmed revenue from 2007. Howell noted that Forks appears to be the 6th or 7th largest community in the district. Farley offered that the data is on the Supervisors' shared drive and that he will continue to post information there as it becomes available.

Howell thought it amazing that Forks has higher receipts than the city of Easton. Schnaedter said that Easton is disputing the way it was calculated.

Schnaedter said that there have been a tremendous amount of responses for the Community Center Monitor positions. The application deadline is November 30th. Interviews will be held shortly after that.

Also, Schnaedter said that the schedule and names of the four engineering firms for the Monday and Tuesday interviews are in the Supervisor packets.

Engineer's Report - Fred Hay - absent

Solicitor's Report - Kline - said that the KMRD procedural challenge oral arguments were heard in the Commonwealth Court in Philadelphia last week. Those in attendance included Mr. & Mrs. Howell and Jim Wideman. It will be at least 90 days before a decision is rendered.

Kline said that the huge record of material for the substantive challenge has now been assembled and sent to the Northampton Court of Common Pleas.

In addition, Kline said that the Comprehensive Plan public hearing is set for Tuesday, December 1st at 7:00 PM. The BoS will be in a position to consider the plan at its December 3rd meeting and if there are no changes, the Board can adopt the Comprehensive Plan at that meeting.

Also at the December 3rd BoS meeting, the Planning Commission plans to make presentations of two ordinances that the PC has been working on for changes to the Zoning Ordinance and the SALDO (subdivision and land development ordinance). One is a solar ordinance and the other is a historic resource ordinance. The latter is likely to be controversial for all the people who have properties on the list. Kline said that he heard that there are over 200 properties named.

Howell asked if it will be a presentation only or if the Board is to act on the ordinances that night. Kline said that it is a presentation and although the historic resource ordinance is complete, the actual inventory list is not. There are three categories - 1, 2, and 3 - and each property must be assigned to one of them. The categories determine the restrictions that apply.

Once the Board has the ordinance and the historic resources inventory, it can decide if it wants to proceed with it at all and what the process will be. Kline suggested that although it is not necessary, the BoS may want to ask the PC to hold the first public hearing - after giving notice to all the property owners who may be affected.

And, finally, Kline said that there is another tax assessment appeal in progress. This one is for a single family home on Newlins Road East. It is likely to have only a minor effect on the budget.


Tentative Adoption of 2010 Budget – as per calendar (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Farley said that there were three budget work sessions since the beginning of October. This budget has come together in a fairly easy first and second pass. There is a modest surplus from 2009 and no tax increase is needed for 2010. The Township is able to meet all obligations and to fund some capital improvement projects.

Farley asked the Board to tentatively adopt the 2010 budget as it stands and to to authorize advertising it in the newspaper as well as making it available at the office and on the Township website for public review - for the mandatory 20 day period. This will make it available for adoption at the December 17th BoS meeting.

Howell asked that an executive summary (for the public) be prepared to accompany the budget. Schnaedter said that he would put together a letter like last year's cover letter. Per Schnaedter, the Township finances are in much better shape than last year. He said, "It's a credit to the Board, to the staff, and all the hard work they did."

Egolf made a motion for the tentative adoption of the 2010 Forks Township budget. Chuss seconded and it passed 4:0.



Executive Session - There was an Executive Session for a litigation matter, a personnel issue, and a real estate matter. The Supervisors-elect attended.

Two motions were made, one to increase the DPW Director's annual vacation time from 80 hours to 120 hours and to increase the Finance Manager's vacation time from 108 hours to 120 hours. The other motion was to give the Township Manager a $200 monthly vehicle allowance. Both motions passed with 4:0 votes.

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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