When I ran for Pequea Township Supervisor in 2018, it became obvious to me what I felt needed to be achieved in 2019. My vision is very clear and it’s what I strive to achieve every day as I represent this amazing community.
It’s my vision that Pequea Township would improve upon all of the good things we have going for us, restore a sense of pride and community, and fix what has been broken. Pequea Township is a wonderful place to live and the people who call Pequea Township home deserve a local government that works for them and uses the limited taxpayer dollars we receive wisely.
As the Chairman of the Board, I want to give you my own personal perspective on how we can begin to implement the vision. Below is my six-point strategy. I’m hoping the Board of Supervisors will work with me the rest of 2019 (I’m confident they will) and a list of some accomplishments since the new board was installed on January 7th:
#1 – Bring Common Sense and Bold Leadership to Our Local Government.
In 2018 as a candidate, I witnessed a lack of processes and systems that led to communication breakdowns, inefficiencies, and infighting. We have already passed resolutions that bring some order to how we do business including how we organize our board meeting agendas and how we spend taxpayer dollars.
In January, we passed three specific resolutions:
- How we prepare the agenda – the purpose of this resolution is to make the process for putting together the agenda smoother and easier on staff, as well as a timely process to allow Supervisors a full week to prepare for meetings. Unfortunately, things are off a little in May due to having to wait to appoint a new Supervisor.
- Purchase policy – to make things simpler for the Board of Supervisors and department heads, we passed a purchase policy that empowers department heads to make purchases within their budgets up to $1,000 without having to come to the board for administrative purchases. Anything over $1,000 must be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Contingencies were provided for the road crew in the event of emergencies.
- Public Comments –Public comments were moved to the beginning of the meeting instead of the end so that those present didn’t have to wait until the end of the meeting to ask their questions about items not on the agenda.
Additionally, we have empowered the Road Foremen to execute his job description more fully in the day-to-day operations of all public works employees, to include Silver Mine Park employees.
Check to my blog weekly and after Board of Supervisor meetings for updates.
#2 – Reduce Legal Fees Back to 2015 Levels
As I shared in last week’s article titled, “Putting an End to the Chaos in Pequea Township,” legal fee spending has been a progression due to a host of reasons which are outlined in the article. The bottom line is that in 2015 legal spending was approximately $28,000 and was around the statistical norm.
2016 – $54, 491
2017 – $102,706
2018 – $130,000 +
This is unsustainable. We still have legal issues that are a carry-over from 2018 and our 2019 numbers will be very uncomfortable for me. My goal is to see reductions beginning in 2020 and to that end, I will fight hard to control this area of our spending.
Unfortunately, the consequences of the last few years may prevent us from our goals.
However, if you don’t have a goal you’ll be sure to hit something every time. I want to be sure that we are going in the proper direction.
#3 – Get Spending Under Control
In 2018, I learned of several areas we spent money that perhaps we should not have. During the budget workshops, I heard comments such as, “when we get a windfall” we will have more money than is reflected in the budget.
Relying on something you cannot count on is not wise or prudent.
For the 2019 budget, Township Supervisors created a $127,000 budget deficit. To balance it, they had to transfer money from reserves.
This is an unsustainable situation.
There is only $300,000 in reserves. That’s not much considering how fast and how large our legal bills are growing.
I spoke with representative after a workshop last month at the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) about reserves (or rainy-day fund) and I was told that on our budget anything less than $400,000 was not a good position to be in.
It ought to be a benchmark to try and get us back there.
Again, stay tuned as we begin to look for ways to save our township money and be more responsible to taxpayers.
#4 – Create a Realistic Plan for Road Maintenance and Repairs
Drive around the 37 miles of our township roads and you will see problems everywhere. This year, we have $200,000 + dollars from PennDot but it doesn’t come close to what we need. Due to our financial situation created by the previous board(s), there is no money again this year for our roads.
The $200,000+ dollars being spent from the State Highway Fund (money the state gives us as a share of the gasoline tax) will be for roadwork on Penn Grant between Marticville Road and Millwood; and Erb Ave – a small residential road off Millwood that was in need of repairs.
In the coming months we will be working with our road crew to build a new five-year plan and bring it back to the Board for input and suggestions. It’s my goal to have our Board have complete buy-in to any plan that is created.
#5 – Build Strong Relationships Amongst the Various Boards and Employees
There has been a lot of turmoil the last few years. Just one example, our road crew decided they needed to unionize. I do not fault them, nor do I like that they felt they had to do so. As road crew liaison, I’m working hard to provide them with what they need to do their jobs. That doesn’t just mean money. It means communication, building trust, and learning to work together. We are off to a great start and I hope we can build on this initial momentum.
Over the next few months, I hope to visit each of our boards and learn more from members about their experiences and to personally thank them for serving our community.
Additionally, it has been too long since there were fun activities between all of the boards and staff. Serving the community is hard work. However, it can also be rewarding. We need to take time throughout the year to enjoy one another’s company and celebrate the victories.
There are a lot of good things happening and we while we focus on solving problems we should also celebrate the good things.
#6 – Empower Community Involvement.
We have a lot on our plate in 2019. However, as we look to 2020 I would like to see us create opportunities for the community to get involved.
There may soon be an opening on the Planning Commission and that’s a great place to serve.
Our Fire departments are always looking for volunteers – and that doesn’t necessarily mean fighting fires. There are administrative tasks and other things you can help them with as well.
On the first Tuesday of August, we will be celebrating National Night Out. It’s an event that takes place all over America whereby people come out for fun and food and get to know the first responders (police, fire, etc.). It’s a great way to connect with the community. I had fun last year in the dunk tank.
Additionally, we will think about and, hopefully, plan some events that everyone will want to come out and have some fun in 2020. That will require volunteer help.
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If you want to contact me, I’m accessible two ways:
- Phone: 717-584-3071
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
While you’re always welcome to our public meetings the third Wednesday of each month at 7pm at the New Danville Fire Department… don’t wait until then to contact me if you have a need or desire to do so. I want to hear from you.