TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
MINUTES - OCTOBER 11, 1999
A special meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on October 11, 1999. Vice Chairman Hackman called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Board of Supervisors:
Wesley Hackman, Vice Chairman
Frank Fazzalore, Secretary/Treasurer
Scott Fegley, Supervisor
Grace Godshalk, Supervisor
Mr. Hackman stated the purpose of the meeting is to interview candidates who have expressed an interest in completing the unexpired term of Dr. William Strahle.
Mr. Hackman stated the term to be filled runs until 1/2002 which was the balance of Dr. Strahleís term. He noted the Board of Supervisors meets the first and third Monday night of each month beginning at 7:30 p.m. Normally there is also an Executive Session during which the Board discusses legal and personnel matters which begins at 6:30 p.m.
prior to the public meeting. He added there are special meetings as required for Budget review, Road Tours, etc. Each Board member is assigned certain Committees where they serve as liaison so there would be three to four additional meetings per month depending on the Committee assigned. These assignments are made at the beginning of the year.
Mr. Hackman stated there is a compensation of $4375 per year. The Township also carries a $10,000 life insurance policy on each Supervisor. Each Friday a packet is delivered to the Supervisors which includes all information the Township has received during the week which would be relevant to the Supervisors.
Mr. Hackman stated the Board has received resumes from sixteen individuals, eight of whom were interviewed last week and the remaining eight are being interviewed this evening. He stated the Board has thirty days from the time of the vacancy to fill the position. If a majority of the Board cannot agree on an appointment, the Chairman of the Vacancy Board would be called in. If the matter still cannot be resolved, it will go to the Courts.
INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE OPPENHEIMER
Mr. Oppenheimer stated he has lived in the Township since 1970. He had at that time thirty-five years experience in the insurance industry with diverse experience. He has been a consultant since the 1980ís. He has custom designed whatever is needed to solve problems. He will bring this attitude to the Board of Supervisors and will work with the Board to find solutions to problems.
Mr. Hackman asked what he feels is good about the Township and what can be improved upon. Mr. Oppenheimer stated those moving into the Township want to keep the Township as it is when they move in. He stated while this is not possible, he would like to see the Township develop in a logical and effective way to absorb larger populations. He stated most of the time the Township is reactive to the immediate problems which is very absorbing, but he would like to work toward planning ahead. He stated in the early 1970ís he was on a Citizensí Advisory Board developing long-term planning for the Township.
Mr. Fegley asked his opinion on the Referendum for a Community Center.
Mr. Oppenheimer stated there was already a Referendum and he feels this is binding. He feels to throw it aside would be a mistake and tell the voters that they are not important to the Board of Supervisors. He is sympathetic with the concept of a Community Center. He is not sympathetic to special interests that give certain groups an entitlement over other people. He feels the Referendum was too exclusive and should be focused on a Community Center that will bring in revenues. If there is a chance of resurrecting this, he feels it should be for all of the community and they should look into this again.
Mr. Fazzalore asked if he sees a Senior Center as a separate item apart from the Community Center. Mr. Oppenheimer stated he does not and feels a Center should be used for Senior Citizens, teenagers, Performing Arts, and other groups including private organizations which could help with raising funds.
Mr. Fegley noted Mr. Oppenheimerís involvement in the Citizens Crime Commission and asked his opinion on the Public Safety Director position. Mr. Oppenheimer stated he feels this is a good idea. He stated there are restrictions on how you hire and fire Police Chiefs which you do not have with a Public Safety Director. The duties for that individual would also be broader, and he is therefore very much in favor of this. Mr. Fegley asked if he feels the Township is big enough to warrant such a position and Mr. Oppenheimer stated it is becoming big enough and he feels they should look into it at this time. He also feels they have time to do a proper search.
Mrs. Godshalk stated the Township has been very proactive recently by spending money on the purchase of open space and asked his opinion on making a decision to purchase another piece of property which could result in the need for another Referendum.
Mr. Oppenheimer stated he has agreed with the process of acquiring as much land as they can. He stated they must decide what they are going to do with the land when they acquire it. He stated if they can find uses for the land as they acquire it and some of those uses could be participated in by groups such as a recreation group who would be willing to give funds, this may help reduce the burden on the taxpayers and make it more feasible to acquire more land. Mr. Oppenheimer stated he does feel it would be reasonable to go out for another Referendum but they should define more clearly to the public what they are going for.
Mrs. Godshalk asked about spending money for preservation of historic homes.
Mr. Oppenheimer stated he was for some time active in the Historical Association and if and when they can find individuals who want to live in the homes and keep them restored, he would be in favor of this. He stated they could also follow the approach they took with the Stapler House.
Mr. Hackman stated they have had problems with open space acquisition because the asking prices are very high. He asked his view of condemnation. Mr. Oppenheimer stated he feels sometimes it is necessary, but he would prefer that they voluntarily arrive at a point where they can arbitrate the price.
Mr. Fazzalore noted the expense of paying off bond issues and asked his opinion of an earned income tax as a source of tax revenue. Mr. Oppenheimer stated he would be in
favor of it as part of a tax reform plan. He stated it would be popular with the Senior
Citizens but feels it will have its detractors as well.
Mr. Fegley noted the detailed Budget process done by the Board of Supervisors and asked how he would relate to budgeting - whether it should be whatever the Department Heads want or should the Board of Supervisors consider what is best for the Township.
Mr. Oppenheimer stated he would feel it would be a decision by the Board of Supervisors as to what is needed in the Township.
SCHEDULED INTERVIEW TIME WITH CATHERINE STRECKEWALD
Ms. Streckewald did not attend the meeting this evening.
INTERVIEW WITH LEE SEGLUM
Mr. Seglum stated he has been a resident of Lower Makefield Township for more than ten years and had lived in Yardley Borough for five years. He stated he went to College at Georgetown and spent some time as a journalist. He edited a business affairs magazine in Princeton for four to five years. He then worked for a small agency in New Jersey called the State Commission of Investigation. He has strong feelings about public service and feels everyone should give something back to their community. When the opportunity to apply for Supervisor came up, he decided to submit his resume.
Mr. Fegley stated one of the issues facing the Board has been the Community Center. He asked his position on this and whether or not he feels they should have another Referendum in light of the prior Referendum which did not pass. He asked if he would be willing to proceed with a Community Center without a Referendum. Mr. Seglum stated he is in favor of a Referendum since it is a significant issue and the public should be involved.
Mrs. Godshalk asked his opinion on the number one issue facing the Township and how he would go about approaching it. Mr. Seglum stated he is very concerned about open space and how this issue is handled so it is in the best interest of the taxpayers. Within the next three to five years he feels they will face a potential crises involving young people because of the number of young people in the Township. He feels they must think about strategies as to how to deal with this problem. He also feels there is a significant traffic safety problem. He noted particularly Edgewood Road where speeding is a problem. He stated he feels they need to increase the number of speed traps on certain roads and the police need to be a more effective presence in certain key areas. He stated he feels they can address the needs of teenagers with the Community Center which must be built as a Community Center and not simply a Senior Center.
Mr. Fazzalore asked if he has served in the Township in the past, and Mr. Seglum stated he served on the Township Budget Review Committee in 1993. Mr. Fazzalore noted
Mr. Seglum did most of the writing of the Report of that Committee. Mr. Seglum stated he has been involved in coaching soccer and baseball as well.
Mrs. Godshalk asked if Mr. Seglum was effected by the Hatch Act in any way, and
Mr. Seglum stated he is not since the State Commission of Investigation is funded through State dollars and no Federal funds are involved.
Mr. Fazzalore asked the status of the traffic problems at Wrightsfield Road. Mr. Seglum stated the area is still a problem. He has had discussions with the Township engineer fairly frequently. He stated at least one half of the drain areas were put in too high which caused the water to go around. He stated they had been told that the areas would be restored to their original condition, and they have had to come back on three separate occasions after heavy rain. He stated the fill was full of debris. Mr. Hackman noted the Board did receive a letter about this issue.
Mr. Fazzalore noted increased costs in the Township and asked Mr. Seglumís opinion on an earned income tax as a supplement to property taxes. Mr. Seglum stated he does not have a problem with this. He stated if taxes are spread around and done equitably, he does not have a problem.
Mr. Fazzalore asked his opinion on the position of a Public Safety Director as opposed to a Chief of Police. Mr. Seglum stated he is familiar with communities which have a Police Chief running the Department and a Public Safety Director as well. He stated generally these are in larger communities. He stated he feels he would have to be convinced that it is necessary since it is adding a another layer of bureaucracy.
Mr. Fazzalore stated in the Master Plan for Parks & Recreation there was included the concept of a Community Center which included athletic facilities as well as a Senior Citizen Center. Mr. Seglum stated he does not feel they need an arena but would like to see all groups brought in to determine the needs of all Township residents of all ages.
Mr. Hackman asked if Mr. Seglum feels the Township has the responsibility to "baby-sit" every child in the Township, and Mr. Seglum stated he does not. He stated the Township does offer recreation facilities but should recognize that there is a growing population of young people who are out in the area and this creates problems and there should be provided to them someplace for them to go. He is concerned about an increase in juvenile crime and vandalism. Mr. Hackman noted the School system does provide programs as well. Mr. Seglum stated he feels there could be a much more effective partnership with the Schools. He noted his concern with the increased use of heroin in the Council Rock and Pennsbury School Districts.
Mrs. Godshalk asked about his position on another Referendum for acquisition of Open Space. Mr. Seglum stated he would have to look at the facts and figures. He added he was supportive of the Referendum that did pass.
INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE LUCIANI
Mr. Luciani stated he is President of Capital Planning Advisory Group so his background is financial. He stated he has a strong background in personal finance. His education is in economics and business. He also has sixteen years of corporate experience prior to 1984 and he brings that experience to any Board he serves on. He stated he is very good with people since this is what he does on a daily basis. He stated the Board of Supervisors must deal with residents and with issues. He is able to look at the middle of issues and not pre- determine issues. He listens to all facts and makes decisions based on what is presented.
He has served on the Board for the Institute of Financial Planners.
Mr. Hackman asked what Mr. Luciani feels is good about the Township and where they can make improvements. Mr. Luciani stated he feels comfortable as a resident with the job the Board has done for the last twelve years. He is very supportive of what has been done in the past and what the current Board is doing. He would like to see additional work done on farmland preservation issues noting the work he has already done with the Farmland Preservation Corporation.
Mr. Fazzalore noted there are a number of issue that may come before the Board which may be personal issues for certain members of the Board. He asked Mr. Luciani how he would handle himself if such came up if he was on the Board. Mr. Luciani stated he feels he would have to put his personal issues aside as much as possible. He added where there was a conflict of interest he would have to pull himself out or pass his vote, if it were a voting situation, to another member or entity within the Township. He stated he would
pass his interest over to the Planning Commission or some other body that was appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Hackman noted he would not be able to delegate his vote, but he would be able to make his views known.
Mr. Fazzalore stated as the Township moves on, he is concerned about the tax structure. He asked Mr. Lucianiís opinion on an earned income tax as a supplemental method of raising taxes. Mr. Luciani stated if they are running out of money, they must pick the best way to proceed. He is not in favor of an earned income tax mainly because there are other options. He would suggest re-assessment on the sale of homes. He also noted the transfer tax. It was noted the transfer tax is currently in place. Mr. Luciani stated they should also look where efficiencies can be picked up in the Township. He stated he does not feel there is a lot of support for an earned income tax. He does not feel the residents would be happy with an earned income tax when they look at the new development and the new monies coming in. Mr. Fegley stated the problem is development is declining.
Mr. Fegley asked his opinion on the Community Center and whether there should be another Referendum or if the Board should vote on this without a Referendum.
Mr. Luciani stated if there is enough money in the current budget, he feels the Board of Supervisors has the ability to vote on this. If it will require additional taxes, the people should have the opportunity to vote on it. He feels it is obvious there is a need for the Community Center in the Township and feels it was only rejected because of the cost. He would not be in favor of a "Taj Mahal" type facility. He suggested possible construction of the buildings in modular fashion and they could add to the facility over the years. He feels this would be more favorable than a $7 million building and the required additional taxes.
Mrs. Godshalk asked about the Board of Supervisors approving a Referendum for additional land purchase when the $7.5 million is used up. Mr. Luciani stated he feels it would be appropriate and feels a Referendum is always appropriate when taxes are going to be increased. He feels there is broad based support for acquisition of open space. He stated development effects the entire infrastructure and the more homes there are, the more money is needed for schools.
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN ANTONI DZIEWA
Mr. Dziewa stated he has been working with Court adjudicated youth since 1990. He stated this is very rewarding work into which he puts a lot of effort. He has been recognized for this work throughout the County. He stated he is very interested in serving in the Township and is interested in finances and real estate. He noted he grew up in Falls Township and moved to Lower Makefield in July. His home is at the corner of Houston and Dolington Roads. Mr. Hackman stated he feels one of the requirements for Supervisor is that you need to be a resident for one year, and he agreed to look into this.
Mr. Dziewa stated he would like to be a Supervisor because he is interested in being a leader in the community and is very interested in politics.
Mrs. Godshalk noted there was a Referendum for a Community Center which failed.
She asked how a Community Center could help young people in need of the services he provides. Mr. Dziewa stated it is very important to have a Community Center but they must also have the appropriate people running the programs. He feels professionals should be brought in to run these programs.
Mr. Fegley stated the Referendum for the $4.5 million Community Center failed, and he asked if Mr. Dziewa feels the Board should force it into existence or should they go back to the residents of the Township for another Referendum. Mr. Dziewa stated he would support the Community Center. He noted Lower Makefield Township does have a low percentage of delinquents but all communities do need such a facility. He does feel the Board of Supervisors should be able to vote on this.
Mr. Dziewa asked if he would be required at any time to leave the area for meetings outside the community. Mrs. Godshalk stated once a year there is a State Convention. Mr. Fegley stated there are other opportunities as well but none of them are required.
INTERVIEW WITH BARRY HURET
Mr. Huret noted he took early retirement and started his own consulting firm in management, strategic planning and marketing mostly related to the battery industry.
He has had profit and loss experience. He has lived in the Township for twenty years.
He stated he now has the time to help the Township and will bring with him the common sense and business experience he has accumulated over time. He stated Lower Makefield is a delightful community and added he and his wife could have moved at this stage of their lives, but they chose to remain in Lower Makefield. He stated he feels he may be able to be of assistance in dealing with problems in the Township. He is in favor of what is being done in terms of open space. He stated there are going to be ongoing maintenance needs in the Township and he feels it is important to have a strategic plan. He stated they must also have the ability to make deviations to the plan over time. He stated he has experience in long-term planning and feels there must be a minimum five year plan. He feels they should consider all items and then prioritize them. They must also look at wants versus needs in the Township.
Mr. Fazzalore asked his opinion on alternative tax methods such as the earned income tax.
Mr. Huret stated at the present time the real estate taxes are topping out and we are reaching a point where the taxes for seniors and other residents are getting extremely high. He stated to the extent that they can find an equitable way to find more money, he feels this is fine provided they have looked at ways to save money. Mrs. Godshalk noted the transfer taxes do bring in a substantial amount of revenue and noted there is a high turn over of people in this area.
Mrs. Godshalk asked Mr. Huretís opinion of the most important issue in the Township.
Mr. Huret stated the Township has grown nicely and remained pleasant. It does have more problems that come with growth. He noted particularly traffic problems in the area. He would like to maintain the cohesiveness of the Township and expand it beyond the soccer fields. He noted particularly the Community Center and stated he feels there is a need for this. He does not feel they should override the existing vote but feels it should be considered again. He feels one of the reasons it was defeated was because of the price tag and there was a large stage proposed. He is not confident that they need a "gold-plated"
Community Center when they could have a "bronze-plated" facility which could be added onto. He stated he does not feel this should be strictly a Senior Citizens Center but should be for the entire community. He stated he feels they should also present programs that bring the people to the Community Center. He feels if the project is approached in this way on a Referendum, it will pass and they will be able to get it funded. He does not feel they should override the past Referendum by proceeding without another Referendum.
Mr. Fazzalore asked Mr. Huretís opinion on the position of Public Safety Director and the current status of the Police Force. Mr. Huret stated he feels they could use a Public Safety Director. He stated he previously lived in Minnesota with a population of 30,000 and there was a Police Chief and a Commissioner of Public Safety which was an elected position. He stated this provides checks and balances. He stated he is not keen on micro-management and feels if you have good people you should let them do their job. He feels the Board of Supervisors should work on long-term planning and oversee the Township. He stated Emergency Management is not as cohesive as it could be as it is presently structured in the Township. He noted his wife is very active in this and she feels the Township can do more. He would be in favor of investigating the position of Public Safety Director.
INTERVIEW WITH JUDY WEISS
Ms. Weiss stated she feels she is a people person and can bring her communication skills to the position of Supervisor. She has gravitated in the past to positions of leadership. She feels she can express the views of the people. She has been a spokesperson for various groups and has led youth groups in the past. She has also worked with seniors and in hospitals in her role as a speech pathologist. She has a lot of fundraising experience and has done training in New York and abroad in this area. She has brought her children to the Performing Arts activities.
Ms. Weiss stated the issue of a Community Center was brought to her attention and she was in favor of this. When the matter was defeated she was concerned how this was handled and was subsequently approached by several people about getting involved in politics.
Mr. Hackman stated since Ms. Weiss is a candidate for Supervisor in the upcoming November election he questions how this would work if she were to be appointed to the current vacancy. Ms. Weiss stated she is very excited about campaigning for the position and meeting the people. She has met with the residents in the community and various groups in the Township including the Police Department, the Rescue Squad, and the Township Manager. She would love to have the people vote her into office since that would give her a clear direction that they want her in. She would also feel good with an appointment since that would indicate that the existing Board would want her in.
Ms. Weiss stated she recognizes that if she were appointed, this would be for a two year term. Mr. Fazzalore asked what would happen if she were elected to the six year term.
Ms. Weiss stated she did try to talk to Mr. Fedorchak about this since she was not sure if she would still run for election. Mr. Fazzalore stated at this point it would be too late to
withdraw from the election since her name is already on the ballot. Mr. Hackman stated he feels the Board would have a problem appointing her to the current vacancy since her name is already on the ballot. Ms. Weiss stated she was not aware of this. Mrs. Godshalk stated there is nothing illegal about what Ms. Weiss has done. It was noted if she were appointed to the vacancy and then won the election, she could resign from the two-year appointed position.
Mr. Fegley noted he is familiar with Ms. Weissí positions and had no questions at this time.
Mr. Fazzalore asked Ms. Weissí opinion on a Community Center and whether they need another Referendum. Ms. Weiss stated she feels if she were a Supervisor her job would be to represent the views of the people as she has heard them. Mr. Fegley asked if she would override the majority. Ms. Weiss stated in talking to people who she would represent as a Supervisor what she is hearing would be reflected in how she would vote.
Mrs. Godshalk asked what Ms. Weiss feels is the number one issue in the Township and how she would approach this. Ms. Weiss stated since May she has been talking to the residents and they are concerned about poor communication. She stated people have indicated that when they come into the Township for a permit, they are not happy with how they are treated in the building. She has also heard people who have come to meetings have felt they were not being heard. Ms. Weiss stated she feels the residents need to be heard and then explained the answers. She feels they must also be treated with respect.
Mr. Hackman stated he does feel everyone is given a chance to be heard. He stated the most difficult thing they must do as a Supervisor is say, "no." He stated the Board must consider what is best for the community. Ms. Weiss stated she feels there are ways that people can be told "no" and be heard at the same time and she feels she can offer this to the Board of Supervisors since she is skilled in this area.
INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE DAVENPORT
Mr. Davenport stated in 1960 he was appointed Water Superintendent in Ford City, Pennsylvania and as part of his duties he attended Council meetings. He has been active in Municipal Government for the last forty years. He has been semi-retired for the last four to five years. He has accepted the responsibility of working as an Instructor/Trainer for the EPA for water problems on a part-time basis. He also works on small water systems in New Jersey on a part-time basis. He has been active in various Civic organizations in the time he has lived in the Township and these have been named in his resume. He feels he can be an asset to the Township with his experience. He has served on the Township Sewer Authority and could provide input on this if he were a Supervisor and could be a liaison to the Sewer Authority.
Mr. Hackman asked Mr. Davenport how he feels the Township could be improved.
Mr. Davenport stated he feels public sewers should be provided to those areas which need
sewers. He stated they should make changes to the Zoning and other items in Edgewood Village so sewers could be installed prior to doing road improvements. He would suggest
they have a "Wish List" which could include a Senior Citizens Center. He stated State aid could be applied for to help with these issues. He feels they can lean on the Township Manager to get State, County, and Federal funds.
Mr. Fazzalore asked his opinion on an earned income tax. Mr. Davenport stated he feels this is a sore subject but if a majority of the Board of Supervisors were in favor of this, he would agree. He would recommend making a study of other communities to see how they solved similar problems.
Mrs. Godshalk asked if Mr. Davenport would agree to another Referendum for Open Space if the funds currently available were used up. Mr. Davenport stated he is in favor of open space and would consider how the Board of Supervisors feels and would go with the majority vote. He stated he would not be in favor of proceeding with it if the Referendum was not passed. He is not in favor of going into debt particularly at the expense of the retired people. Mr. Davenport stated he is in favor of the Community Center but feels they should look into how they could cut the costs and whether or not they could get donations.
Mr. Fegley asked if he would be in favor of another Referendum for a Community Center, and Mr. Davenport stated he would be in favor of another Referendum and they should determine if they need to spend as much money as they requested before.
Mr. Fegley asked Mr. Davenport his opinion on the position of Public Safety Director.
Mr. Davenport stated if they can get away without having one, he would be in favor of saving the funds and would recommend the Township Manager assume these responsibilities. He stated he would like to look into this to see if it is necessary in comparison to other communities who may have one and how it worked out for them.
There being no further business, Mr. Fegley moved, Mr. Fazzalore seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 p.m.
Frank Fazzalore, Secretary