John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Newtown Applies for DCED Grant to Assess the Township’s Financial Condition

Newtown's Financial Garden

At the January 23, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting, a resolution was passed authorizing the Township Manager to apply for a matching $40,000 Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED Definition) grant for implementing an Early Intervention Program (EIP Definition) that will assess the township’s financial condition and identify additional sources of income. 

This is a matching grant. If the Township is awarded a grant, it must match the amount with its own funds. $40,000 is the maximum grant applied for. That anticipates a total budget of $80,000. However, the actual expense of hiring consultants for the project may be less the projected budget.

[Listen to this podcast and learn more about the EIP and the grant process: “Andrew Sheaf Talks About DCED's Early Intervention Program”]

The following are the questions and answers from the EIP grant application submitted to the DCED on March 15, 2019.

What do you plan to accomplish with this project?

Newtown Township is currently facing stresses on Township finances. The Township will need to address fire protection and emergency response needs that will require additional capital resources.

In the past, the Township has relied heavily on the EIT Definition [Earned Income Tax] to fund a large portion of its budget. That may no longer be possible as neighboring municipalities are implementing the EIT to support their own budgets. [For more on that, read “Earned Income Tax Trends”.]

Long-term budget needs must be anticipated and addressed now if the Township is to continue to be able to meet the needs of its residents. There are several critical factors, which must be addressed: what has been the practice of using reserve funds to offset other current budget needs.

By 2020, the tax millage dedicated for loan repayment for the construction of the Township Building will no longer meet mandatory increased yearly payment amounts. It is critical that changes in the budget process be changed and new sources of income must be sought.

How do you plan to accomplish it?

Step 1: Financial condition assessment: a multi-year trend analysis of historic financial data and an assessment of current budget performance will be performed by the consultant as a means to establish a realistic baseline of the township’s historic and current financial condition.

Staff will provide the consultant with current budgeting and financial challenges and assist with creating a five-year fiscal projection, estimating revenues, expenditures and fund balance levels. Staff will also share current practices with the consulting team to provide a solid understanding of what practices are currently in place.

Step 2: The consultant will make recommendations to the township regarding the following:

  1. Possible changes to the operation of the township
  2. Proposals regarding establishing a multi-year budgetary process.
  3. Identification of additional sources revenue, including possible sources of economic development within the township.
How do you plan to use the funds?

The funds will be used to engage a professional consultant with experience and expertise in preparing a multi-year financial management plans under the EIP plan guidelines and terms. The consultant will also have extensive experience advising municipalities generally on public financing matters.

The main purpose of the program is to establish short-term and long-term priorities and objectives that will strengthen the managerial and fiscal capacity of the township.

A secondary, but, as noted in the “identified problem,” an extremely important objective of the purpose of this program is to identify additional sources of revenue for the township.

Posted on 18 Mar 2019, 12:59 - Category: Finances



John Mack Lists Elcon Pollutants DEP May Allow

On May 11, 2016, Newtown Township adopted Resolution 2016-R-10, opposing the Elcon Toxic Waste incinerator. This is a commercial hazardous waste treatment facility that will treat liquid waste from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

That resolution states that the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors “oppose the construction of this facility and further urges the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Agency and the Falls Township Board of Supervisors to consider the danger of the proposed hazardous 'thermal oxidizer' facility at the Keystone Port Complex in Falls Township to Newtown residents and Delaware Valley residents.”

According to a recent article in The Intelligencer, “for the fourth time in as many years, Elcon Recycling Services is resubmitting application materials in an attempt to build a controversial waste treatment facility in Falls” about 13 miles from Newtown.

Groups such as Bucks POWA [Protect Our Water & Air] and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network say they’re specifically concerned about toxic materials being released to the air and potential drinking water contamination if this incinerator is approved.

On March 4, 2019, I attended a public meeting hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to answer questions from the public. The meeting was jammed packed.

DEP officials reviewed the status of waste management, air quality, and stormwater management permit applications for this facility. There was a lot of chemistry discussed and even though I have advanced degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, it was difficult to follow all the technical details. However, I was surprised to learn the amount of toxic pollutants the proposed permit would allow to be released into the air.

I summarized the amount of pollutants the proposed permit would allow at the March 13, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting:

Proposed “emission limits” in the recent PA DEP Definition permit application: nitrogen oxides – 23.4 tons per year; carbon monoxide – 36.6 tons per year; sulfur oxides – 24.2 tons per year; volatile organic compounds – 10.1 tons per year; particulate matter – 10.5 tons per year; for hydrochloric acid – 6.3 tons per year!

Note that the 2016 Newtown Resolution opposing this project estimated that “the incinerator treatment process will produce over 39 tons of air emissions” whereas the recent data I just cited adds up to more than 111 tons – or nearly three times as much!

DEP has yet to do an analysis of where these pollutants would be carried by air currents.

Posted on 17 Mar 2019, 10:16 - Category: Environment



February 2019 Police Report

Newly-hired Police Chief John Hearn presented the Calls Report for February 2019 at the March 13, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In February, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,386 total calls, 257 (19%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of the report below. Note: Not all calls are listed.

Traffic Citations/Accidents

There were 109 traffic citations in Newtown in February, 2019. 46 (42%) of those involved speeding, which is a perennial problem that residents are concerned about. Eleven (24%) were on Linton Hill Road, 11 (24%) on Lower Dolington Road, 5 (11%) on Newtown Bypass, and 4 (9%) on Swamp Road.

Unused Drug Take Back Program

Chief Hearn announced that National Drug Take Back Day is April 27, 2019. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. Residents can drop off their unused drugs between 10 AM and 2 PM in the lobby of the Municipal Building at 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA.

Chief Hearn also mentioned that residents can also deposit their unused pills Monday through Friday, during normal business hours (8 AM to 4:30 PM). When queried by Supervisor Mack about access after hours and on the weekend, Chief Hearn confirmed that the 24/7 policy remains in place. That is, outside of normal office hours residents can use the red call box on the front porch of police headquarters to summon an officer who will respond and provide access to the dropoff box.

School Safety Community Forum

Chief Hearn also reminded residents about the School Safety Community Forum, which will take place at the Newtown Middle School, 116 Richboro Newtown Rd, Newtown, PA  18940, beginning at 7 PM.

The School Safety Community Forum will provide the CR school community with a comprehensive overview of the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) active shooter avoidance method and updates on other pertinent CR safety initiatives underway.

Posted on 14 Mar 2019, 12:05 - Category: Crime



Summary of February 27, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the February 27, 2019, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Peggy Driscoll reported that at its February 19, 2019 meeting the members two Zoning Hearing Board applications. The Martin family, at 6 Morton Drive, is seeking setback relief for a patio and deck and Playpad LLC is seeking a use variance for Use E-9 in the LI, Light Industrial Zoning District (see the Newtown Area Industrial Zoning Districts Code) for a children's play space. The Commission recommended that the Supervisors not oppose these applications.

The Commission also reviewed a conditional use application for Chipotle, for Uses E5 and E-6, eating place and eating place with take-out/drive through (see the Newtown Area Commercial Zoning Districts Code) and recommended that the Board approve the application. It should be noted that there is no drive-through window planned. In response to Mr. Mack’s question, Ms. Driscoll explained that the Chipotle restaurant will be located in Village at Newtown in the northwest corner of the new buildings planned for where the Bank of America is currently located. The amphitheater will be a paved seating area between the two winds of the proposed buildings.

Public Safety

Swearing in of Police Chief John L. Hearn: District Judge Michael Petrucci administered the oath of office to Police Chief John L. Hearn. Chief Hearn thanked the Board and Township Manager for their help through the interview process and for their support and confidence in him in selecting him as the new chief. He thanked interim chief Jason Harris for his support and said that he is very proud to lead this excellent department. [Read "Meet Newtown Township's New Police Chief".]

The audience at John Hearn swearing in ceremony. The entire Newtown Police force was also in attendance but are not in this photo. They were standing behind the podium.

Resolutions

John Mack: Mr. Mack Mr. Mack reported that he had participated in the BCATO Definition meeting at which three resolutions were considered for forwarding to PSATS Definition for discussion and consideration for future legislation.

  1. Resolution to restore municipalities’ ability to adopt and collect a mercantile or business privilege tax in Townships that specifically elect to adopt such tax. Although Newtown Supervisors did not agree to support this resolution, BCATO voted to forward it to PSATS.
  2. Resolution to require licensed real estate agents to disclose municipal zoning and what is allowed within 1000 feet to a prospective purchaser. Newtown Supervisors supported this resolution and BCATO voted to forward it to PSATS.
  3. Resolution to support legislation that continues to promote continuing education for elected tax collectors and actively opposes any legislation that would seek to eliminate the position of a legally elected tax collector. Newtown Supervisors supported this resolution and BCATO voted to forward it to PSATS.

Posted on 13 Mar 2019, 01:20 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



Open Records Requests Processed by Newtown Township in 2018

March 10 through 16 marks “National Sunshine Week.” It was created in 2005 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Its goal is to educate the public about the importance of open government and promote a dialogue about the importance of freedom of information and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. Public access to official records is fundamental to the public’s ability to understand government actions and hold government officials accountable (source: http://sco.lt/6V79kX).

[March 16, BTW, is the birthday of James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution and a key advocate of the Bill of Rights.]

The Pennsylvania Right to Know Act, also known as the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law, is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in Pennsylvania.

As part of Sunshine Week 2019, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) is hosting a series of webinars. On Monday, I attended the “Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) Requester Training” webinar presented by Erik Arneson, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. This webinar focused on how to write a good Right-to-Know Law request, accessing information in databases, significant deadlines in the RTKL, how to appeal a RTKL denial, and more.

Thanks to our Open Records Officer Micah Lewis, aka, Township Manager, I was able to analyze the open records requests processed by Newtown Township in 2018.

Some Data

In 2018, Newtown processed 92 Open Records Requests in compliance with the State’s Sunshine Law. A total of 42 (46%) were from businesses, many of which sought building permit records. Almost half were from individuals.

Only 4 requests were from the media, which asked about employee salaries and website statistics.

About 20% of the requests were denied mostly because there were no records that complied with the request.

That underscores the need for requester training. To that end, I urge all citizens to learn more about the PA Right-to-Know law and how to request public records by accessing the Open Records Office at www.openrecordspennsylvania.com.

How Does Newtown Township's Data Compare to Other Towns?

The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records released the results of a statewide 2019 Agency Open Records Officer Survey that sheds light on who is using the state’s Right-to-Know Law, what they’re using it for, and how much time officials are spending each week to fulfill requests. Unfortunately, Newtown Township did NOT participate in that survey. Why not? A good question that I intend to ask the Township Manager. Meanwhile, read the following:

Posted on 12 Mar 2019, 13:24 - Category: Open Records/Transparency



Pages: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] ...

 

This site is paid for and approved by John Mack: john@johnmacknewtown.info
The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
Campaign Websites by Online Candidate