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HENDERSON HEADS NEW DELAWARE TOWNSHIP BOARD

HENDERSON HEADS NEW DELAWARE TOWNSHIP BOARD
By Wayne Witkowski

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP – Jane Neufeld and Rick Koehler were installed to full terms as members of Delaware Township Board of Supervisors and John Henderson was elected board chairman at the township’s reorganization meeting on January 2nd.

Neufeld and Koehler were elected to full terms in the Nov. General Election.

Neufeld was an interim supervisor for the second half of last year, replacing Jeff Scheetz, who retired as board member and chairman.  Henderson had served as interim chairman at that time.

Henderson will serve as township secretary and Neufeld as board vice chairperson and as township treasurer.

With no changes among salaried township employees, Krista Predmore remains as township administrator, assistant treasurer and right to know officer.

Thomas Farley remains as township solicitor and planning commission solicitor at a rate of $150 per hour and Robert Bernathy is alternate solicitor in both roles.

Township employees’ salaries will be determined during an executive session 6pm Wednesday prior to the 7pm regularly scheduled meeting.

Wayne Bank, Dime Bank and PLIGIT remain as the township depositories.  William Owens was the CPA firm last year.

Michael Kolenet is a new appointee who was named road master, replacing Charlie Kroener, who retired at the end of last year.  Kolenet was appointed head of the reconstructed township Public Works Department, a merging of Public Works with the Road Department and Maintenance.  In the past, they ran under separate directors.

George Beodeker remains the township Emergency Management Coordinator on an interim basis.  He wants to retire and the township has 90 days to find a replacement. 

Boucher & James remains the township engineer.

The Pike Dispatch, The News Eagle and Pocono Record again were appointed official township newspaper.

Bring Back Recreation Board

Henderson said he and the board have one prevailing goal:  to reconstruct the township’s recreation board.  “We had a good one at one time and it dissolved.” Henderson said.

Getting more public volunteerism is a goal Henderson and fellow board members share.

The township’s three boards made up of volunteers are filled, with seven seated on the Planning Commission and five each on the Zoning Hearing Board and Building Hearing Board.  Steve McBride will serve on the Vacancy Board, his first involvement with the township.

Henderson feels the Board of Supervisors has a good makeup “to put things in order” as its most immediate goal for this year.

“Occasionally you have disagreements but that’s a good thing,” Henderson said.  “We may disagree but we’re on the same page for moving the township forward.”

What he has seen in his two years as board member and the last six months as interim chairman is fulfillment of his campaign promises for more critical scrutiny of township spending and greater transparency of where and how taxpayers’ money is spent.  Township taxes remain the same again for this year.

Neufeld likewise has shared that goal of transparency by proposing a series of ordinances designating more specific capital reserve funds categories.  Those ordinances will be tweaked in the upcoming three months for a vote in April, and perhaps beyond that if needed.

“We put off a lot of stuff, “ Henderson said after the meeting.  “If you do things quickly, they come back to bite you.  We want to do things slowly and steadily.”  He enthusiastically praised office staff for supporting that steady progress.

TOWNSHIP MAKES MODEST DONATIONS TO HELP AGENCIES

TOWNSHIP MAKES MODEST DONATIONS TO HELP AGENCIES
By Wayne Witkowski
Pike County Dispatch – December 28, 2017

DINGMANS FERRY – A resident told Delaware Township supervisors that they would be “shocked” to discover the number of township residents, mostly women, who are victims of sexual and domestic abuse. 

The woman, who had gotten help from Safe Haven of Pike County, had talked about the agency’s service to victims in her community during a board of supervisors’ workshop before last week’s regular meeting when they discussed whether to donate to the nonprofit in Milford, which had requested $10,000 starting in a meeting held about a year ago.

Pike County Habitat for Humanity also requested a donation of nearly $3,000.

During the supervisors’ meeting, donations of $1200 to Safe Haven and $200 to Habitat for Humanity were approved.

But there was lengthy discussion during the workshop on both requests.

“Safe Haven helped me and my children out, “ said the speaker.  “I don’t know where I’d be today without it.”

Township supervisors were invoking for the first time a recently passed ordinance regulating donations to nonprofits with guidelines, particularly how much the agency requesting the donation is involved with the Delaware Township community.

Interim supervisor Ron Hough remained opposed to Safe Haven’s sizable request that was re-examined at previous meetings, with the agency deflecting his request to say how many of the clients it has served reside in Delaware Township.  Safe Haven says client information is confidential and provided only general data from Pike County.

“This is the third time (for discussing it) and all I’m asking for is numbers (of people served), not names, just numbers.  They said that’s against their policy,” said Hough.

The resident said she knows from her own firsthand experience with Safe Haven of many people reporting to the agency from the township.

“There are many people from Delaware Township who are victims of abuse.  I don’t have it but you’d be shocked at the numbers,” she said.

Hough then reconsidered his stance, saying he was “ashamed” as a township official to learn of what seems a large number of residents who turned to Safe Have for help.

He said many families struggling with alcohol and drug addictions triggers much of the problem.

Hough’s change of heart carried approval of the donation during that meeting in a 201 vote, with Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson opposed.

Interim supervisor Jane Neufeld said that residents have been put off with giving generous donations in the past, including to Safe Haven, and are hesitant to see that again.  But she said she had been looing into the work of the agency and commended the range of services made up largely of volunteers under Executive Director Tamara Chant.

Chant has turned the agency around from its financial difficulties and commandeered better budget control, which she indicated in a report shared with the supervisors back in the early spring.

“I’m impressed with their effort to continue to educate in the school system about abuse, bullying and respect,” Neufeld said.  “It’s been a bumpy road with how we look at Safe Haven.  Large donations in the past put people on edge, which led to our development of the donation policy.”

“I have to represent the taxpayers, They’re asking for $10,000 which is more than what we have in our donation account,” said Henderson.

Another female resident also spoke up for donating to Safe Haven saying, “I think considering who they are and what they do, it’s the only right they to do.  I wouldn’t like to see us shut the door on them based on what they did in the past.”

Neufeld said there are about a thousand township children and youth from ages 5 to 19 in local schools and having Safe Haven as a resource is “incredibly valuable.  I’m impressed with the programs they’ve done at schools, the only organization that does that in the county.  We’re trying to look at interests of all residents, not to limit numbers.  We are a community and are working the best interests to give support for services that will be there,”  Neufeld said, suggesting a $1200 figure.

Habitat for Humanity Request

Habitat for Humanity, meanwhile, requested $2,940 for needed scaffolding to replace the old scaffolding that no longer meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.  The money would go for its new construction projects in 2018, which includes a structure in the township.  It originally needed $3,438.72 but had received $500 from other charitable funding sources.

Supervisors pointed out that the township again would waive permitting fees for the project, which it has done for other Habitat for Humanity projects in the township in the past.  That credit brings the total to around the $2,940 requested.

Also at the meeting, the supervisors approved a resolution to move $150,000 from the $155,00 surplus of the 2018 budget into the General Fund Capital Reserve.  They agreed to table resolutions to move available money from the 2018 budget into the General Fund Capital Reserve Fund and the Recreation Capital Reserve Fund after further study by April 1.  Neufeld has said these additional categories give better transparency and clarity for residents to see where money is appropriated.

The supervisors unanimously agreed not pay for the $630 Constables Professional Liability renewal application for township constable Ed Hammond that he had paid himself in the past.

“He does not work for us but for the county courts, and I do not find it appropriate to pay for that,” Neufeld said.  Constables, who are elected to their position, are paid from court fees.

Supervisors also approved $1,029.74 from Safety Smart Gear for uniforms and required safety equipment for compliance with federal standards.

 Henderson at the end of the meeting commended the work of Hough, who was appointed supervisor when Tom Ryan resigned in January.  “I’m impressed working him how he is his own man and I appreciate his efforts for the township,” Henderson said.

“We’ve worked together, not always with the same idea, but everything is negotiable,” Hough said.  He also praised the quality of work of the municipal building office staff as well as the emergency response personnel and Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker.

The township reorganizational meeting is 7pm on Jan. 2 and its next regular meeting is Jan. 10.

Twp. Passes Budget, Gets Emergency Services Update

Twp. Passes Budget, Gets Emergency Services Update
By Wayne Witkowski
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, December 21, 2017

DINGMANS FERRY – Delaware Township’s 2018 budget coasted through approval without opposition, with no tax increase, during last week’s meeting where emergency services drew the most dialogue.

Interim Supervisor Jane Neufeld, who developed the budget with township administrator, Krista Predmore, and Ron Hough approved the budget, which was discussed in two workshops and made available at municipal offices and online for public viewing.  John Henderson, the other supervisor was absent because of illness.

There has not been a township tax increase since 2008; however, taxes will not be decreased as they were in three of the previous six fiscal years: 2012, 2013 and 2016. 

The total budget, balancing at $4,484,000, includes $1,796,025 for general purposes. 

The total millage rate remains at 11.68, which is comprised of an 8.68 township millage, a 1.5 millage rate of the township volunteer fire company, and 1.5 mills for the township Parks and Recreation Fund, the latter two each setting aside $143,000.

The Parks and Recreation Fund is projected at a $148,500 income and $144,510 in expenses for 2018.

Fire Department and related expenses come out to $88,936.

Liquid Fuels Tax revenue for the township for roads and bridges is $211,890.

An operating reserve fund carries $310,535 for emergency proposes.

A series of resolutions that will more specifically earmark surplus money for capital reserve allocations for general fund, recreation, roads & bridges and emergency services will be further examined and developed next year, Neufeld said.

The budget this year carries a one-time subsidy of $55,750 for the township Ambulance Corps. It is about $50,000 more than previous years but the corps had requested more support for its expenses, including repairs of both ambulances.  The subsidy avoids adding another tax millage rate for the ambulance corps, although Neufeld said that topic would be revisited in the future.

“I thank the Ambulance Corps for their commitment and time, and the township will continue the tradition of working with the company,” said Neufeld.  She said the ambulance service was receiving more calls for Advanced Life Support (ALS) services since Pike County has lost its services.  Neufeld said 10 to 15 percent of the calls require paramedics for Delaware Township’s ALS, which operates 40 hours a weeks based on call volume.  Neufeld said half of the calls come from outside the township.

“It’s a pretty hefty load of callers,” Neufeld said.  She said there have been attempts to mobilize a study on the issue but the state Department of Community and Economic Development declined to fund it.

“We have more information forthcoming.  Right now we’re holding the fort,” Neufeld said.

FIRE DEPARTMENT REPORT

Also at the meeting, Delaware Township Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker gave his final update on the township fire company for the year, covering Dec. 1, 2016 to Nov. 30 this year.

He is concluding his second year as fire company president, with Ed Hammond succeeding him in 2018 in what Beodeker called a “transition phase” of new officers.  Also elected unanimously were Mike Moffa Sr. as vice president, Megan Sykes as treasurer, Kim Beodeker as relief association treasurer and Stacy Hughes as secretary.

Chris Kimble, who had been serving as interim chief of the department, will begin his regular term as chief starting next month.  Sean Hughes will be assistant chief, Michael Cairns will be captain, Anthony Mastrelli will be lieutenant and Matt Doro will be engineer.

Beodeker said the company received 144 calls, 30 percent of them involving motor vehicles, during the 12 month period.  Structure and brush fires accounted for 5 percent of the calls.  He said there have been 235 total events involving 3,400 man hours from his department of 40 volunteers over the 12 month period.

Beodeker said it is part of a “consistent” trend over the past five years in which the department was engaged in 1200 activities over 26,600 staff hours, an average of 250 activities and 5300 hours yearly.

Plotting that data has reinforced formal training classes this year conducted by Bucks County Fire training and certified vendors in the township.  Classes included CPR, ice rescue operations, hazmat awareness, pump operations and roof ventilations.

“An aggressive training schedule is being planned for 2018 that will expand or review each of these concepts and support the missions that the data indicate we should be concentrating on, “ Beodeker said.

Web-based response software was upgraded along with additional equipment upgrades or replacements, including reflective traffic vests for roadway incidents in compliance with state and federal standards.  Roadway mishaps are the second leading cause of firemen deaths, he said.

A donated township roadway truck is nearly prepped for usage, with the help of fundraising efforts.

“We are reaching a critical juncture as the main firehouse is now 25 years old and the substation nearly 45 years old.  Each year we try to pick and fund one capital project relating to the buildings,” said Beodeker, pointing to repaving of the driveway and parking lot at the main station this year.

Also at the meeting, supervisors set 7 p.m. Jan. 2 for the reorganization meeting where Neufeld and Rick Koehler will be sworn into full terms as supervisors.  A public hearing for the False Alarm Nuisance Ordinance will be held during the Jan. 24 meeting at 7:15 p.m.

Under correspondences, Predmore read a thank you letter from Holy Trinity Food Pantry for the township’s $2,500 donation that helped provide Thanksgiving meals for 514 people, more than half of them township residents.

A Tri-State Traffic Data study was announced by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on municipally owned roads, including Doolan Road near Route 739, for statewide screening.  It will not include speed traps, said Predmore.

2018 Will Be 10th Straight Year Without Tax Increase

2018 Will Be 10th Straight Year Without Tax Increase
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, November 23, 2017
By Wayne Witkowski

DINGMANS FERRY – The last municipal tax increase in Delaware Township was in 2008.  There won’t be another one for 2018, either.

Township taxes that will stay the same were finalized when township officials completed the 2018 budget during a Board of Supervisors public workshop before last week’s meeting.  The budget is available for residents to examine online or they can pick up a hard copy at the municipal building.

However, taxes will not be decreased as they were in three of the previous six years:  the 2012, 2013 and 2016 fiscal years.

The budget must be on display for 20 days and will get a vote for approval at the next meeting on Dec. 13.  If it needs further revision, the budget will be presented again at the following meeting on December 20.  That meeting was moved a week earlier from Dec. 27 because of the Christmas holidays.

Total income and spending for the township balances at $4,484,007.

The General Fund is projected as $1,196,025 versus anticipated expenditures of $1,169,194.  The surplus goes into the Capital Reserve Fund for the following year.

The total millage rate remains at 11.68, which is comprised of an 8.68 township millage, a 1.5 millage rate for the township volunteer fire department and 1.5 mills for the township parks and recreation fund.

The Parks and Recreation Fund is projected at a $148,500 income and $144,510 in expenses for 2018.

Fire department and related expenses come out to $88,936.

The Liquid Fuels Tax revenue for the township for roads and bridges is $211,890.

“We’ll have to look at other sources as well for our roads.  That only pays for one major road in the township,” said Supervisor and board Treasurer Jane Neufeld, who work with township Administrator Krista Predmore on the budget.

Neufeld said she was pleased with the transparency of this year’s budget in showing how township money is spent by listing more categories an specific breakdowns.

“This puts us in place to find better and more efficient ways to have better government and to keep it in good financial shape,” said Neufeld.

Two changes were made to the budget during the workshop after lengthy discussions.

The township donation to its Volunteer Ambulance Corps was set at $55,570.  It was increased by $50,000 for 2018 to avoid enacting a millage tax on residents that had been discussed at prior meetings.  It will be in effect for only one year, pending further review.  The corps, which provides Advanced Life Support services for 40 hours a week during peak call times and Basic Life Support services, has needed costly engine repairs for both ambulances.

The budget also reduced the amount of money in the Health and Human Services category from $12,000 to $8,000 after lengthy discussion.

It includes animal control services and human services, including donations to agencies, individuals and nonprofits whose work affects a segment of township residents.

Resident Steve McBride opened discussion on the category, saying that $12,000 seemed too high.  “If it is a smaller amount, there is an automatic limitation,” he said.  Rick Koehler, elected township supervisor for the term beginning Jan.1, said that “the more money is available, the more people will make requests.”

Neufeld said that the donation policy, adopted earlier in the fall with stricter, more detailed guidelines on how taxpayer money is awarded to requests for funding, would help monitor spending.  She moved later to reduce the budget limit as all three supervisors agreed on it.

Under the General Fund, real estate tax revenue expects to total $950,250 and transfer taxes to total $85,000.

General Services and Administration costs, which includes wages and energy costs projects at $266,449.  Employer paid benefits ($504,144), insurance ($61,965) and medical insurance ($97,520) also drove up expenditures.

Also at the meeting, Koehler has resolved his situation on his being elected both supervisor and township auditor at the Nov. 7 General Election.

The board accepted Koehler’s resignation to serve a full term as township auditor so he could be seated as supervisor in the reorganization meeting, which the board approved for 7 p.m. on Jan. 2. The auditor position will be filled by appointment by the board and is being advertised for the board to accept letters to be submitted from candidates.

Koehler is finishing an interim appointment as auditor to the end of the year and had run for the full-term position again starting in January.

When a supervisor position opened with the retirement of Jeff Scheetz from the board in June, Koehler ran for that position as well, but it was too late for him to withdraw as an unopposed candidate for auditor.

The board also agreed to advertise for a Sewerage Enforcement Officer for appointment in 2018.  Koehler offered, based on his experience with Westfall Township, but was advised by the board that a supervisor should not serve that secondary role.

Delaware Township Won’t Roll the Dice on Satellite Casino

Delaware Township Won’t Roll the Dice on Satellite Casino
By Wayne Witkowski

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP – One-armed bandits won’t occupy Delaware Township any time soon. 

That was affirmed at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting when its three members unanimously, and enthusiastically, approved drafting a resolution that would exclude a category 4 casino application from the township under a new law.

The board agreed to opt out of the Act 42, a casino gaming expansion law signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on October 31.  Municipalities have until December 31 to decide whether to accept or reject gaming expansion.

It allows for municipalities within a 25-mile radius of an established gaming venue to have a “satellite casino.”

Supervisors approved a $2,500 donation to the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church food pantry in Dingmans Ferry for food purchases in November, particularly to meet the growing Thanksgiving holiday demand by families in need.  With an average of 90 families served monthly, the pantry last year provided for Thanksgiving meals for 135 families and anticipates supplying 150 families in need this year.  The church, in its request to the board for a donation, said that 50 percent of those families reside in the township. 

The church also wrote that an addition to its office area for food storage and distribution is planned for next spring.  It spent $8,000 on energy and medical expenses in 2016.

Township Administrator Krista Predmore indicated at the meeting there is $6,000 set aside in the General Fund for donations, and Supervisor Ron Hough pointed out that the township has donated to the food pantry in the past.

“I am comfortable with this request,” said interim Supervisor Jane Neufeld (she was elected to a full term in the recent General Election) before the approval vote.  She has worked with Predmore on the township budget.  “It (funds) is something we have available and helping them helps the Delaware Township people.”

Supervisors also revisited Safe Haven’s request for a donation, which they said would be discussed further at a future meeting over the next few weeks.

The board has rescheduled its regular meeting on November 22 a week earlier to Wednesday this week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Instead of the usual workshop session before the meeting, the board will have a workshop for the 2018 budget.  Neufeld has been upbeat about progress of the upcoming budget, which may not need a tax increase for 2018.  A final budget will go for vote at a December meeting date to be determined after a final draft is approved and the 20-day period for public scrutiny is met.

The township budget also will get an additional $10,000 after a settlement was reached with JPA Masonry of Mount Pocono with regards to the construction of a new salt shed.  The township had contracted with JPA Masonry, the lowest bidder, for the job with a holding bond at 10 percent of the estimated cost of the job. But JPA came back and said it could not perform the job, which meant the township was entitled to keep the bond.  Although the bond came out to a little more than $13,000, both sides agreed to a $10,000 settlement. 

Building a new salt shed will be revisited and put out to bid in 2018, Predmore said.

The board also unanimously adopted Resolution 2017-04 for the township to participate in the Municipal Risk Management Workers Compensation Pooled Trust.  Neufeld said she found in her research a growing number of townships joining the pool, which she estimates would cost $3,000 less yearly than the existing coverage.

The board also unanimously approved the $1,000 Emergency Management Stipend to township Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker, which has been the typical amount in recent years.

Also at the meeting, the board moved to allow the township fire department use of a building at Akenac Park for 90 days to house its new pumper, although Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson said a longer period of time might be considered if needed.  Since Regional ended its countywide ALC service on October 1, the board moved unanimously to issue a letter of intent, at no cost to the township, to the state Department of Community and Economic Development regarding Advanced Life Support/Basic Life Support (ALS/BLS) services.  The township offers ALS services 40 hours a week based on high call volume times.  The board moved to pay off Kenworth truck financing next month, two years in advance.

5K Race in December?

During the workshop, Debra McGowan of the Dingmans Ferry United Methodist Church spoke to the board about her church’s request to run a 5k (3.1 mile) race along Myck Road and the church vicinity on the morning of December 2.  A cookie walk in which Christmas cookies will be sold at tables at the church hall, will be held that day and the race would be run in tandem.  McGowan said she could draw on her experience in road races as the event organizer.

The board’s main concerns were the late time of the year when winter weather and snowfall could become a factor.  Henderson said the warmer spring and early fall months would be more suitable.  Supervisors said it would be difficult closing down Myck Road for residents who live along that road, even for just he anticipated two hours for the race.

They invited McGowan back to their next meeting for further discussion.

Plowing More State Roads?

On the subject of winter weather, supervisors discussed during the workshop a correspondence from PennDot County Maintenance Manager Kenneth Thiel who asked if the township would be interested with reimbursement in clearing during winter snowstorms the said roads along Wilson Hill Road, including Mary Stuart Road, Chestnut Ridge Road, Little League Road, and Ball Park Road.  The area covers 2.9 miles of two lanes, one in each direction.

The proposal calls for payment for $1,123.05 per mile, which equates to $6,513.69 for the season.

Township officials questioned whether the offer could be low.  Beodeker was skeptical that township crews have enough manpower and resources to handle that added coverage.  He pointed out that PennDot treats roads based on their usage by motorists, with the four-digit roadways getting first treatment, followed by the three-digit and then two-digit ones down to the side road.

PennDot also offered other roads located in the township for added consideration, including State Route 739 from Johnny B Road north to Doolan Road and State Route 2004/Silver Lake Road from Route 739 north to the entrance of Marcel Lakes Community development.

Supervisors left the proposal for further discussion with the township roadmaster.

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