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Delaware Seeking Other Cable Providers

Delaware Seeking Other Cable Providers
The Pike County Dispatch - Thursday, January 17, 2013
By: Lisa Mickles


DINGMANS FERRY — At the urging of several residents, Delaware Township seeks other cable companies to service the township.

Resident Michael Schneider told the board of supervisors last week that he is frustrated with the township since it has been three years since they first began negotiating a franchise agreement with Blue Ridge Cable (BRC) so he requested an update. He also takes issue with the 3 percent user fee that is supposed to be forwarded to the township.

“It is my understanding that you don’t even know how much they owe you,” said Schneider while noting, due to past experiences with BRC, “I don’t trust them.”

This relates to a previous 10-year contract in which BRC was supposed to pay the township a 3 percent user fee on all cable subscribers, but the township was receiving a fee based on only about 600 users when there are thousands of subscribers in the township.

BRC settled with the township, but BRC has still not provided accounting records on current subscribers in order for the township to determine how much BRC is collecting and owes the township.

Chairman Tom Ryan said they have been diligently working through an outside law firm to finalize the contract and believes they are close to reaching an agreement.

He said because of the many complaints from residents, he has contacted Verizon to see what their future plans are in providing fiber optics to the area.

Currently, Verizon provides phone and a direct service line (DSL) for internet but does not provide cable TV (FIOS) unless people opt in to have a TV satellite system installed, which provides a substantial savings if purchased as a bundle.

Resident Jane Neufeld has been after the supervisors to look into other cable service providers since BRC keeps increasing their rates.

At the last meeting, she asked the supervisors if they were prohibited from seeking other cable providers or does BRC have a monopoly on the area... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Delaware Twp Sets Appointments

Delaware Township Sets Appointments, Salaries for 2013
Pike County Dispatch, Thursday, January 10, 2013 - p. 4
by Lisa Mickles

DINGMANS FERRY - Delaware Township Board of Supervisors held their annual re-organizational meeting Monday night with the board positions staying the same.

Tom Ryan will remain chairman but his prior positions of secretary and treasurer have been designated to office staff.  Barbara Foos, who was reappointed as office administrator, is now the township secretary with a fixed rate of $48,000 annually.

Krista Predmore will take over the position as treasurer in addition to office manager at a fixed rate of $40,000 annually.  The board approved the motion requiring that all three supervisors be the signees for checks on all banks accounts with the exception of bills that are due between regular scheduled meetings.  The board also set the treasurer's bond at $2.8 million and PLGIT, Wayne, Dime and Citizens banks were designated as the depositories for the township.

Robert Luciano was re-appointed as Supervisor Vice Chairman and alternate Planning Commission member with Thaddeus Parsell continuing as Supervisor.  Charlie Kroener will take on the position of township Road Master due to Parsell's reitrement in December.  Tom Farley will remain the Township Solicitor at a pay rate of $150 per hour with Jason Ohliger as the alternate.

Ohliger will continue as the Planning Commission Solicitor with Robert Bernathy as the alternate.  Steve Guccini was appointed as the Delaware Township Zoning Hearing Board solicitor.

Luis Barrios was reappointed as the Parks, Building and Grounds Superintendent with a fixed compensation of $42,000 annually.  Mary Feisenberger was appointed as Right to Know Officer.

The board approved Boucher and James as the township engineers and Entech as their alternate.  BIU will continue as the residential and commercial building inspectors and alternate sewage officer.  Luciano cast the only no vote but was outvoted by Ryan and Parsell who voted in favor.

Dan Rogers will remain as the township's zoning and code enforcement officer at $13.11 per hour plus travel expenses with Chris Schlegel continuing as the township sewage officer at $18.73 per hour plus travel expenses.

Richard Heimbrook was compensated at a rate of $15 per hour as a road crew employee.  Jeff Shirley was appointed Emergency Snow Plow Driver at a rate of $15 per hour.  The board approved mowing of grass and snow plowing for Delaware Township Fire Department, main building and substation parking lots, American Legion parking lot, cemetary, and ambulance corps.

William Owens and Company will remain the accountant for Delaware Township and Francine Byrne was appointed as a member to the Planning Commission.

George Beodecker will remain as the township's Emergency Management Coordinator with Eugene Lubben as the alternate.  Dennis Stankovich was appointed as Fire Police Captain.

The supervisors approved appointing Steve Vitale, Ph.D., PE, Jime Owens, Wayne Day, and Sean Helferty to Building Hearing Board.  The board will meet on an as needed basis at 7 p.m. as well as the Recreation Committee.  Jeff Shirley was appointed to the Vacancy Board.

Sharon Franks was appointed as Administrative Assistant for Recreation, Zoning and Sewage as well as Alternate Right to Know Officer at a fixed compensation of $48,157.20 annually.

The board set the monthly meeting dates for the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m.  The Supervisors will now hold their workshop meeting at 5 p.m. prior to the regular meeting.  They also approved additional workshops for March 20, June 19, Sept. 18 and Dec. 18, starting at 6 p.m.

Planning Commission meetings and workshops will be held on first and third Tuesday of each month beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The Pike County Dispatch and News Eagle as the official newpapers for township with the Pocono Record used on an as needed basis.

The board approved the following vacation days as paid holidays:  New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Day after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

Office hours were set from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The next board of supervisors meeting will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. Their workshop will be held prior to the meeting at 5 p.m.

Delaware Gets Fiscal House In Order

Delaware Gets Fiscal House In Order, Cuts Taxes
Pike County Dispatch - Thursday, December 20, 2012
By:  Lisa Mickles

DINGMANS FERRY - Delaware Township supervisors approve their $1.5 million budget and even approved a .75 mill tax decrease while also changing the tax collector's compensation.

At last Wednesday's meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved the budget with the option to reopen it in January.

"This budget is the most concise and accurate budget done by office staff," said Chairman Tom Ryan while noting that the budget was not completed by any supervisors or volunteers as it was done in the past.

A half mill was reduced from recreation, which will now be set at 1.5mills with the general fund reduced by a quarter of a mill.  Ryan said they are being conservative this year since there are still unknowns regarding expenses.  He also noted that the general fund was actually reduced by an additional 1 mill since last year's reduction was funded through a settlement through Blue Ridge Cable (BRC).

By paying off the mortgage for Akenac Park, the township is also now debt-free without having to dip into reserve funds.  The supervisors agreed to pay off the 15-year mortgage loan early, which saves the township an estimated $11,000 in annual interest fees.

Supervisor Thaddeus Parsell who is officially retired as the Roadmaster, said that the first mortgage was for 20 years, and he never thought the $1 million purchase would be paid off in five years.

The board also approved a resolution for tax collector compensation that will take effect in the years 2014 through 2017.  Currently, Tax Collector Mary Lou Corbett receives a 5 % surcharge for taxes collected for the Township.

The resolution now states that the first 1,000 taxable parcels shall be at a flat rate of $4,447.53 in the first year and go up slightly for the following three years.  Compensation for over 1,000 parcels shall be at the rate of $1.70 each.

Corbett said after the meeting that the new resolution effectively reduces her collection rate by more than half.  She said her current compensation equates to $40,000, which only included municipal taxes.  Delaware Valley School District and the county already pay a flat rate comparable to the resolution approved by the supervisors.

BLUE RIDGE CABLE

The supervisors took public comment regarding how people wanted the township to proceed in negotiating a franchise agreement with BRC.

Currently, BRC collects a 3% fee from the user that is reimbursed to the township, which equates to around $75,000 per year. 

For several years, the Township did not have a formal agreement with BRC.  The township has been in negotiations with the cable company and sought input from BRC on areas that are not covered. 

In a phone interview, Ryan said that as of Monday, negotiations with BRC have broken down.

YEAR END REVIEW

Ryan provided an overview of the progress over the last year.  He commended the staff on their due diligence in cutting and keeping expenses down.  He said when he and Office Manager Barbara Foos began looking over the finances early this year, they discovered non of the funds had FDIC coverage in addition to not receiving any interest on over $2 million in the reserves and general fund.  He said all of the funds were commingled and the accounts disorganized.  Recreation and payroll had separate accounts in the same condition and the checking accounts had not been reconciled since October 2011, which took many months to correct.  Ryan said Sharon Franks was an asset in helping to organize the office.

He said in August they hired Krista Predmore as Assistant Office Manager and later appointed her as Financial Manager and grant writer.  She also serves as the Township's legislative liaison.  Predmore has also successfully completed training and testing to become the notary for the Township.  "Over the past year much has been accomplished by the entire team here in Delaware Township," said Ryan.  For complete story, get this week's issue.

Parsell Retires As Roadmaster

Parsell Retires As Roadmaster; Was Last Working Supervisor
Pike County Dispatch  - Thursday, December 6, 2012
By Lisa Mickles

DINGMANS FERRY — After 29½ years of service, Supervisor Thaddeus Parsell will retire as the township’s roadmaster.

At last Wednesday’s township supervisors meeting, Chairman Tom Ryan said that they received a letter from Parsell announcing his resignation as overseer for the township’s road department.

Ryan jokingly said that it only took him 10 months to accomplish the task.

This means that Delaware Township will no longer have any working supervisors, something that was a sticking point for many residents since in the past all three supervisors, which included Ileana Hernandez as township secretary/ treasurer and Bob Luciano as administrative assistant, worked for the township.

Parsell will walk away with a nice pension package from his salary of $58,000 that would equate to $24,000 in annual retirement payments through the state’s pension plan.

This will be in addition to the $20,000 he already received through Equivest, the township’s prior pension plan. Parsell has waived his right to participate in the township’s insurance plan and will now be covered under Medicare Advantage Plan.

Ryan, who replaced Hernandez as township secretary and treasurer without any compensation, also announced that the budget is complete and up for public review. He said there was a substantial surplus despite the fact that last year’s budget was reduced by one mill ($99,000) using Blue Ridge Cable money.

This year’s general fund budget is set at almost $1.5 million with recreation set at $154,000. Ryan said he believes they might be able to lower the millage even more moving forward. The budget will most likely be adopted at their Dec. 12 board of supervisors meeting.

Ryan said they were able to make up for last year’s $99,000 payout from BRC for the millage decrease by reducing expenditures substantially through employee restructuring and by switching the township’s health insurance plan.

The supervisors then proceeded to approve paying off the remaining Akenac Park loan in excess of $250,000 without hitting the reserve account. By paying the 15-year mortgage loan off early, the township will save an estimated $11,000 in annual interest fees.

Parsell said he never thought that the loan would be paid off so quickly when they purchased the property almost 10 years ago. Several grants aided in the purchase... for complete story, get this week's issue.

Teamwork Helped Delaware Cope

Teamwork Helped Delaware Cope with Storm
Pike County Dispatch, Thursday November 8, 2012 (p. 3)
By Ken Baumel

DINGMANS FERRY – Delaware Township supervisor chairman Tom Ryan thanked fellow Supervisors Ted Parsell (Roadmaster) and Bob Luciano for their action following Sandy’s arrival.

Parsell said that he handled clearing road blockages (if live wires were not involved), putting up and taking down road-closed signs, and supervising FEMA/PEMA supply deliveries.

Ryan said that while he stayed at the command center, Luciano went on site whenever or wherever a crisis arose.  Ryan also thanked officials of some of the larger community developments, such as Wild Acres, for their handling of the crisis.

Township officials held a meeting with community development representatives at the center early in the crisis to coordinate emergency needs.  The center also invited representatives to the meeting last Friday.

At that meeting, Ryan updated them on MetEd’s schedule to restore power to the estimated 6,000 residents in the two townships that remained without power as of last Friday.

Supervisors Paul Menditto, representing Lehman, and Pike Sheriff Phil Bueki also attended that meeting.

At that meeting, Ryan said that although some of the community developments in Delaware were well organized during the crisis, some of the smaller ones were not.  He said that it was impossible to find a contact person responsible to make decisions at one development.

Ryan said that one of the first priorities in the post-Sandy assessment process would be to evaluate what worked and what did no work regarding the township EMA plan and regarding the expansion of the township mission into a regional one.

The assessment should address needs of the small community developments that do not have an office, emergency infrastructure, or formal contact person.

Ryan also thanked Township Office Manager Barbara Foos and her assistant Krista Predmore for coordinating 60 volunteers who helped staff the center.

Lloyd said that during the crisis PA Dept. of Agriculture inspected the kitchen.  She announced that the inspector gave the kitchen a clean bill of health regarding safe food handling.

Ryan also said that when he lifted the township state of emergency last Friday, the center has 10,000 food packs left over.  However, even though Delaware emergency center closed, when Lehman Township EMA requested food last Sunday, Ryan coordinated getting some of the remaining food packs to Buskill Fire Dept. firehouse on Evergreen Drive in Lehman Township.  The food helped feed Bushkill and East Stroudsburg residents housed at the firehouse, a regionally designated shelter.

Ryan said that the Delaware center got not reports of loss of life in the coverage area.  Some residents did require medical help.  He thanked Mary Lou Corbett of Delaware Township Ambulance Corps for responding to medical issues that arose during the emergency.  Corbett was at the township building for part of the emergency.

Ryan reported that Corbett helped a man who had no phone service or power and who needed oxygen and a Z-pack (mask).  She also found resources to help a Delaware woman who had no money and food and who required medical attention.

Ryan said that the Delaware crew sent residents needing temporary shelter to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, which housed up to 15 residents at a time, or to Upper Dingman Township Fire House.  The firehouse deployed a flashing sign in a prominent spot in their parking lot on Log Tavern Road announcing their services available, such as food, water, ice, shower and shelter.



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