Sunday, January 31, 2010

BoS Meeting Notes - 1/21/2010

Recreation Board Interviews & Appointments - 6:00 PM

After the BoS Recreation Board candidate interviews concluded, an Executive Session was held.  Supervisors emerged and voted 5:0 to reappoint John O'Neil.  They then voted 3:2 (nays by Chuss and Rogers) to appoint Beverly Dalrymple, a new face.  Ms. Dalrymple brings support for neighborhood parks as well as for varied programs for adults and for non-sports-minded children to the Recreation Board mix.  Recreation Board appointments are  for five year terms.

Regular Meeting - Agenda

On this night, Supervisors learned that KMRD has filed an allowance for appeal to the PA Supreme Court in their oft-denied Procedural Challenge, that One Truth Church wants to rent monthly space in the Community Center for worship services, and that the amphitheater project has been sent to the new Township engineer for review. 

Also, the Board finished filling all appointed board and commission vacancies.  The 3-1/2 years in-the-making-Comprehensive-Plan-update was moved one step closer to adoption with the scheduling of a public hearing for February 18th.  And, refinancing of the bond will save money and pay for the new public works garage.  The contract for engineering/architectural services was approved.

Public Comments (non-agenda) - none

Supervisors Comments 

  • Supervisor Egolf said that on Tuesday night he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Bushkill Stream Conservancy.
  • Supervisor Chuss announced that he was invited (at the last minute on Thursday night) to attend a (Business Network International) BNI International meeting.  This group of regional owners and business managers meets weekly at Riverview and mostly shares information and leads, gives testimonials to each other, and has a networking focus.  Chuss was asked if Forks Township would like to send a representative.  Dues and other membership requirements apply.  When Chuss receives the information he will see that Supervisors get it for review.
  • Supervisor Billings said that Senator Mensch's staff will hold office hours twice a month in the Forks Community Center beginning February 2nd from 9:30 to 11:00 AM. 

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.  The Township's current outstanding debt is $7,737,126.

Standing Committee Reports:

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Egolf - said that the committee met on January 13th at 7:15 PM and that it was a good meeting.  A lot was done.  Chief Dorney and and Zoning Officer Weis will take a look at the Old Sullivan Trail traffic problem created when parents pick-up and drop-off their children at the Y daycare. They will report back to the committee.  Also, Monday, August 2nd from 6-8 PM is National Night Out and Chief Dorney suggested that it might be a nice time to kick off the formal opening of the bandshell - a community event.  Bryan Weis sat in for Rich Bassett.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Howell - reported that the committee has one agenda item tonight and will next meet on the second Tuesday in February at 7:30 AM. 
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Rogers - said that the committee met on January 6th and talk was in generalities but with the change in Recreation Board membership "we'll have different perspectives and  will pinpoint a clearer direction for this year."  
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Chuss - said that the committee met on January 11th and discussed Forks Community Days and an issue regarding the dates.  If they are the dates normally selected the event will be September 18-19.  It was suggested that the Community Days Committee decide which days it prefers.  However, at this point no one has stepped up to volunteer to coordinate the weekend.  The Forks Business Association may become the coordinator.  Schnaedter said that the association will make a formal presentation at the February 4th BoS meeting.

Chuss said that the draft Forks Quarterly went to the publishers on the 11th and that proofs should be back for review in a few weeks.  He added that Schnaedter has suggested skipping an issue of the Quarterly (last year there were only three issues) and replacing it instead with an updated Township map and a calendar.

The committee is also discussing the Township website and content updates, real time updates, and Webcasting (of BoS meetings).  Chuss said that technology has changed since the last time Webcasting was explored.  It may be feasible now.  The website content manager will be consulted.

Chuss said of the possible creation of an arts council that "instead of picking a date and wondering if people will show up," information flyers and signup sheets will be placed in the Community Center and in the Municipal Building.  An announcement will also go on the website and the newspapers will be contacted to see if they are interested in running a story on it.  He said that it will not be limited to painting and sculpting but will include culinary arts, gardening, landscaping, music, and coordinating the amphitheater schedule.  "It will be up to the group."

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Billings - said that the committee met on January 13th and financial reports were discussed.  Finance Manager Farley updated the Board on the preliminary year end figures.  He reported that 2009 revenues are on target with projections, in fact they are over by $12,000 and expenses are $434,000 lower than were budgeted.  There will be additional audit entries (like depreciation) that will take away about 1/2 of the surplus.  Coming into 2010 "the surplus is where we want it" at more than $500,000.  Farley congratulated all the staff for their efforts to "aggressively" find the best bargains when purchasing and for "looking for opportunities to stretch a dollar." 

Billings said that (bond) refinancing is on tonight's agenda as is the agenda setting policy and a goal setting session.

Billings reported that currently there is no Community Center rental policy.  The committee will update the current rental application and has asked PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) for a sample rental policy.  It arrived late today and will be distributed to the Board for review.  At this time, One Truth Church wants to rent space monthly in the Community Center for Sunday services but without a rental policy in place, no action can be taken on its rental request.

Billings also reported that the amphitheater drawings have been sent to Township Engineer Muller.

TRCOG (Two Rivers Council of Governments) has asked if Forks Township wants to participate in a  cable franchise agreement survey.  They are exploring a regional aspect and need Forks' response by February 15th.  This will be an agenda item for the next meeting.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter said that he had nothing to report since all of his items had been covered.

Engineer's Report - Muller filled the Board in on what he had been doing since the beginning of the year.  He said that he reviewed several lot grading plans as well as some final grades for building projects.  Braden Airpark is under review and has been before the Planning Commission (PC).  The Dietzler minor subdivision plan presented to the PC has been withdrawn. 

Regarding the Meco/Sullivan traffic light, there is a meeting scheduled for Thursday with the engineer for the project, Verizon, PennDOT, and Schnaedter - "to push it forward and get it done."  Muller said that having everyone in a room together will eliminate the "he said/she said."  Muller hopes to report in a month or two that it is ready to go.

As to the new public works garage, he said that there is not a lot to review (from an engineering standpoint) yet.  He  noted that it looks like the garage is being sited to allow for more use of the land in the future.   

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that KMRD has indeed filed "a petition for allowance of appeal" to the PA Supreme Court - of the Commonwealth Court's ruling against their Procedural Challenge to Forks Zoning ordinance.  KMRD had 30 days to do this after the December ruling.  It remains to be seen whether the PA Supreme Court will take this case on their docket.  The court will decide if there is significant Statewide significance.  Kline said that he expects to learn in 30 days if the court will agree to hear it.  

He reminded the Board that the Substantive Challenge is still in the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas.  (This is the challenge alleging discrimination in the Zoning Ordinance.)

Please read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Tom De Martini (Morning Call) for more details.

Misc:  Chuss asked about the Lafayette contract for the wrestling building.  Schnaedter said that (Community Center Coordinator) Miller sent it over late this afternoon and that he was merely advising the Board that he had it.  Kline said that a copy was sent to him as well and he has questions since the Lafayette College Wrestling Club is not the same as Lafayette College.  He will call Miller for more information. 


Appointments for various Boards and Commissions - After last week and this week's candidate interviews, Chuss announced the following appointments:

  • Planning Commission - Vito Tamborrino (4 yr), Joseph Rizzo (4 yr), and Robert Rusnak (Billings unexpired term)
  • Zoning Hearing Board - John Pappas (5 yr)
  • Recreation Board - John O'Neil (5 yr) and Beverly Dalrymple (5 yr)


Proposal & Contract for Architectural & Engineering Services (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - James Bogrette made a presentation to the Board of the second step in the public works garage process, the tightening of the numbers on the master concept plan (now deemed a schematic plan) - and the engineering services.  He said that now a high level of detail is needed to start defining every bit of the project and its unique features - the green roof and landscape architecture.  He will put together a RFP and invite a select group of firms for bids.  This will take it through more site and land development and the firms, who have worked with Kimmel Bogrette before, will understand their intent and not panic and overcomplicate it. 

Mr. Bogrette said that he has three names for mechanical and structural work and will share them with Schnaedter in order to be as transparent as possible.  Kimmel Bogrette proposes to work hourly on Phase 3 with a not to exceed number in place, billing only for what it takes and if it takes more time, the cost would be on Kimmel Bogrette and not on the Township. 

Howell remarked that this is his first time going through a project of this type and that the narrative is very well laid out and very clear.  He is looking forward to the relationship.

Egolf asked if there would be geological testing of the land.  He was told that it would absolutely be done and the estimated cost is between $8,000 and $14,000.  It will be done sooner rather than later.  Kimmel Bogrette recently went through this with Hanover Township and got really competitive bids, all within $600 of each other.

Chuss noted the costs to be $284,000 with $45,000 to $55,000 in engineering and geotechnical fees. It is in line with the anticipated costs. 

Kline asked if that included the search for voids given the karst topography.  He was told that there will be eight to ten borings near the building site and more where there will be heavy loads (like the salt storage area) and heavy equipment (like trucks) along the driveway.  They will also discover where the water table exists on the site.   

Billings asked for explanation of the "not to exceed" number in the construction contract.  Expected is $35,000 to $55,000 for construction administration for architectural services.  The bottom line is that if it is exceeded it becomes Kimmel Bogrette's risk. 

Howell questioned site visits at appropriate intervals.  He wondered if they advise townships to hire a person who does more micro-management.  Mr. Kimmel said that "when the building emerges out of the ground," they are on site frequently and will be there as the ebb and flow of the project requires.

Kline offered that the Township had a "clerk of the works" for the Municipal Building.  Egolf wondered if a construction manager should be hired and who is ultimately responsible?  Mr. Kimmel said that Kimmel Bogrette is ultimately responsible for the Township to get the building that is designed, specified, and purchased.

Schnaedter said that a clerk of the works is not needed since he, DPW Director Roberts, and Township Engineer Muller will be on site on a regular basis.  

Egolf said that staff told him that the Municipal Building construction far exceeded the budget.  Schnaedter noted that he attended the PSATS program, Facilitating the Facilities, and how important it is not to just hand a project over to someone.  It is important to have the right people and adequate oversight. 

Kline's recollection is that the Municipal Building came in pretty close to budget but did go into the contingency.

Farley said that a full reconciliation was done and that the old Supervisors thought the total campus project was over budget.

Kimmel & Bogrette's track record is below 1%.  They are very proud of that.

Howell made the motion that the proposal and contract for architectural and engineering services be approved at a not to exceed number of $408,000.  Rogers seconded and it passed 5:0.

Please read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) for more.

General Obligation Bonds, Series of 2010 (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Gary Pulcini, the Township's financial consultant, provided a booklet to the Board showing bond interest rates for the last year as well as a time and event schedule and detailed numbers.  

Assembling information started the week of December 20th and on January 3rd more was received.  On January 14th, the first draft of the POS (Preliminary Official Statement) was distributed and some comments have already been received.  A second draft will be distributed tomorrow.  There will be comments on the second draft the week of the 24th.  Comments are due on the Notice of Sale on February 2nd.

On February 4th the Board will be asked to a resolution approving the sale of the Township's 2003 bond - and paying off the 2008 loan - and authorizing moving forward with rating agencies, etc.  The rate will be locked in on the night of the 18th, the date of the bidding.   The auction is done online through MuniAuction.

Supervisors were told that this is a great time to be doing a project as the rates are low.  In fact, on October 1, 2009 they were the lowest they had been (3.94%) in the last 40 years.  Rates are currently at 4.31%. 

The anticipated savings from the refinancing of the old debt is $391,198 and $12,658 in the refinancing of the 2008 debt.  The old debt will pay off the new debt.  All will be paid off in 2027. 

Howell asked about the PEMA loan.  Farley said that Forks is carrying three PEMA loans and that is the maximum permitted.  This will eliminate the oldest (and lowest at $16,000) one.  When the financing is settled, there will be a new PEMA loan at 2% a new fire truck. 

Howell made a motion to approve the General Obligation Bond Series of 2010 process.  It was seconded by Billings.

The motion passed 5:0.

2010 Goal Setting Session (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter said that goal setting came up at the Finance & Administration Standing Committee meeting some time ago and the committee was in support of doing it.  A session was held in January 2009 and was run on a Saturday by Lafayette College at a cost of $65/hr with a not-to-exceed amount of $1,000.  He said that he was looking for the Board's direction as to whether or not it should be run by Lafayette College this year or done in-house.

Chuss said that last year's session at 6 hours was long.  He suggested that last year's unaccomplished goals be put on a list and that Supervisors and staff meet one evening for two hours.  Schnaedter said that providing the new Supervisors with a list of last year's goals with a commentary of "where we are on those" will streamline the process considerably. 

It was decided to have the session on Monday, February 8th at 5 PM.  Dinner will be provided and because Lafayette College is "independent," it will be asked to lead the session - at their current rate of $65/hour.

Board Agenda Policy (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter said that a document has been drafted for Board consideration.   It is designed to give better direction to the professional staff in the procedures for preparing agendas.  It also says that documents should be delivered to the Manager's office in a timely manner for inclusion in Supervisors' packets.

Chuss asserted that the chairman is to set the agenda and run meetings.  He asked Rogers to confirm this (from her Supervisor course training) but she could not.  Schnaedter said that the document should have a provision that the agenda should be prepared in consultation with the chair. 

Billings asked Kline about the chairman setting the agenda since he could not find anything in the code about it.  Any Board member can add to the agenda as long as it conforms to the timelines.  He said that he spoke with PSATS and was given the advice to "make it an open process."  Howell said that actually the proposed agenda policy does intimate open/equal access.

Chuss declared that he does not want to be accused of not fulfilling his duties as chairman. 

Howell said that in conversations with PSATS last year "that every Supervisor has equal access to the agenda."

Egolf said that a procedure was wanted and now as a policy it needs a number.  Schnaedter will give it an internal number and will develop/write the procedure details to go with the new policy.

Howell made a motion to accept the meeting agenda policy.  Rogers seconded.  The vote was 5:0.

Comprehensive Plan (Dean Turner, Planning Commission) - Turner thanked the Board for filling the Planning Commission (PC) vacancies so that there was a full board for the January 14th PC meeting. 

Turner reminded the Board that the Comprehensive Plan was tabled at the December 3rd meeting so that all Supervisors could have a chance to review the changes that come about from the BoS public hearing.  The updates/changes were documented by Charlie Schmehl (URDC) and delivered to the Board on December 3rd. 

Turner said that the PC would like to get the Comprehensive Plan approved in the early part of the year so that the PC can make the necessary changes to the SALDO and the Zoning Ordinance in 2010.  It is a long process.

Kline noted that if the changes to the Comprehensive Plan are substantial that the Board of Supervisors must hold a public hearing and then vote.  It was decided to have the public hearing in February.  Kline will publish the legal notice which must be posted for two weeks.  Also, the public must be able to look at the final document.  Zoning Officer Weis said that it is on the Township website and in the Municipal Building.

Turner then shared his exasperation at a this "update" process that started in the Fall of 2006 - that is 3-1/2 years  - and when on the BoS agenda it is always the last item and is continually postponed.  He said that he has a life and that this is interfering with that life.

Chuss said that he still objects to the Town Center density in the Comp Plan.  Howell explained that the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) was put in the plan as a defensive move, a way of bulleting proofing the Township further from developers' density challenges.  It is a "silver bullet" that is needed. 

Egolf said that the Board should look to Dean who has been at this for 3-1/2 years.  He noted, "The thing is out of diapers, is potty trained, let it have a life of its own."

Howell made a motion to provide within the Comprehensive Plan higher densities in the TC district with the use of TRDs as recommended by the ad hoc committee and a hearing date of February 18th at 6:30 PM prior to the regular BoS meeting.  Billings seconded and it passed 5:0.

Executive Session - Held for personnel and potential real estate purchase reasons.  No action was taken during or after the session and the meeting was adjourned. 

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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