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8-22-16 Minutes

Board of Commissioners
8-22-16 Minutes


BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS                                                    LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP

                 REGULAR MEETING                                           AUGUST 22, 2016                                

The following were in ATTENDANCE:

H. Edward Black, President Thomas G. Vernau Jr., Township Manager
Peddrick M. Young, Sr, Vice President Erin Trone, Assistant Township Manager
Richard F. Schin David Holl, Director of Public Safety
Jack R. Simpson, Jr. Daniel Flint, Community Development
Carolyn E. Holtzman Richard Grove, Director of Finance
  Leon Crone, Lieutenant, Police Department
  John Eby, Building and Zoning Coordinator
  Steven P. Miner, Solicitor
  Julie Echterling, Recording Secretary


President Black called the August 22, 2016 Regular Meeting of the Board of Commissioners to order at 7:00 pm.  He followed with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.  He announced that Proof of Publication was available for review. 


Commissioner SCHIN made a motion to approve the minutes from the August 8, 2016 meeting of the Board of Commissioners.  Commissioner SIMPSON seconded the motion.  Motion carried 4-0.


There was no response.


Approval of Check Register

Vice President YOUNG made a motion to approve the Check Register of August 18, 2016 in the amount of $187,683.74.  Commissioner SCHIN seconded the motion.  Motion carried 4-0.  Commissioner Holtzman arrived after this vote at 7:05pm.

Department Reports

Vice President YOUNG made a motion to approve Department Reports for the month of July for Community Development, Township Engineer, Public Works, Fleet Maintenance, Public Safety, Assistant Manager and Community Development Monthly Report for the months of April, May, and June.  Commissioner SIMPSON seconded the motion.  Motion carried 5-0. 

Commissioner Simpson asked about the costs “if out sourced” on the Fleet Maintenance monthly report.  He called and found lower prices for some of the services.  Mr. Vernau stated that they use different garages and would find out.


There was no response.


Review of Township’s Permit Application Process

Mr. Eby provided a flowchart to the Board of the Township’s process for permits.  He took the Board through the permit process including required reviews and timetables.  He stated that the UCC Residential permits have a 15 working day review and comment period while Commercial permits have a 30 working day period.  He explained how the fees are calculated and collected.

He stated that there can be delays for some residents/contractors depending upon the loads.  For example, he stated that in a typical year they process 500 permits.  As of July of this year 500 permits have been issues.  Discussion ensued.

Gettysburg Road Realignment Project:  HRG Supplement Request.

Mr. Flint discussed the request for additional funds for the Gettysburg Road Realignment Project.  He stated that because there are federal monies involved, additional items need to be reviewed.   Mr. Vernau stated that the original TDD agreement, which was based on projected traffic counts, was that Upper Allen Township would pay 89% of the engineering and design costs and Lower Allen would pay 11%.  He stated that the original estimate for engineering services was $250,000.  The businesses in the TDD have paid $219,125 of the $250,000 to date. 

Mr. Flint went over the HRG request and highlighted areas that were changed, reduced, increased and required because of federal monies.  The total revised costs are approximately $45,000 over the estimate.  Upper Allen has reviewed the Supplemental Request and given a conditional approval up to $250,000 for the original split agreed upon and is willing to pay only 50% of the additional costs over $250,000.   Solicitor Miner spoke about the TDD ordinance and will provide a memo to Staff.  Discussion ensued.

Commissioner SCHIN made a motion to approve HRG’s Supplemental B Fee with Lower Allen Township paying 11% of the agreed expenses as outlined in the TDD.  Vice President YOUNG seconded the motion.  Motion carried 5-0.


Long-Term Budget Outlook

Mr. Grove spoke about the goals of the Commissioners.  Those included keeping taxes as low as possible, enhancing property value and leaving a legacy.  He stated that 70% of the expenditures for the Township are labor-related, followed by goods and debt services.  The 2015 FTEs were 80.2 down from the highest level of 102.5 in 2007.  He explained how the FTE number is calculated and discussed the changes over different departments in FTEs over the recent years.

He spoke about the recession, bounce back periods, inflation and how it impacted the Township over the last few years.  He spoke about recent one-time cost savings the Township has benefited from including refinancing of the bonds.  He spoke about Wells Fargo predictions of inflation rising from 1.1% in 2016 to 2.2% in the next year and the impact it can have on the Township.  He spoke about the possibility of revenue growth likely slowing which could result in a decrease in fund balance.  This could require a tax increase.  He went over best case of continued economic growth for the next 7 years which wouldn’t require a tax increase, but unfortunately is very unlikely.  He discussed a worst case scenario which could result in a fund balance deficit by 2019.  He stated that there is no way to know how the economy is going to go however, he recommends if a tax increase is needed, it would be better to impose a smaller increase sooner which could give protection before a recession.  He stated that there is another option, which would be increasing the fund balance requirement from 15% to 30%.  This would help in the credit rating for the Township for financing purposes.  He stated that his presentation is not a suggestion but rather ideas to keep in mind as we move forward in the Township in the next few years. 

Commissioner Simpson asked about performance management which measures jobs and helps with eliminating costs.  Mr. Vernau spoke about the measures taken when the recession hit last time when the fund balance was low which including furloughs and unpaid days for employees.  He stated that there are 50 full-time employees operating at peak.  Commissioner Schin stated that there are other ways to reduce expenses.  Mr. Vernau stated that they have reduced the budget by $1.2 million since 2007.  He stated that the biggest cost is labor, which if you reduce the labor force it will affect services, which will need to be cut.  Commissioner Schin stated that he isn’t afraid to cut services but wants to see what makes up those costs.  Commissioner Simpson is concerned on how a tax increase would affect the older population in the Township.  He asked about outsourcing our permit process and passing the cost onto the resident.

Commissioner Schin asked for a different budget approach for this year.  He asked if the revenue could be known first then expenditures fit within the revenues.  He asked Mr. Vernau to talk with the departments and decide what will fit within the revenues and bring it to the Board.  Mr. Vernau was concerned about this approach.  President Black asked if Staff could come into the budget meetings with what they absolutely need and then decide on other items with any revenues left.  Commissioner Schin asked for a harder look before it comes to the budget meetings.  He argued he isn’t paid to make these decisions as the Board hires the manager to make decisions.  Mr. Vernau stated that he believes the Board should be making decisions on service levels.  Vice President Young agreed with Mr. Vernau.  Extensive discussion ensued.  President Black asked that each department bring in their requests with the Manager’s recommendations and Mr. Grove keep a running total during the budget meetings.


Snow and Ice Removal ordinance amendment.

Mr. Vernau discussed his memo to the Board outlining the responses to the objections raised at the last meeting regarding the ordinance.  He stated that First Class Township code doesn’t offer the option of a Fire Hydrant Tax per se.  He stated that other municipalities with the tax use it to pay the water bill.  Solicitor Miner found no case law in Pennsylvania or New York holding a resident responsible for a snow covered hydrant. 

Mr. Bonneville discussed his concerns with having to clear a fire hydrant that his neighbors receive a discount on their insurance which is totally his responsibility.  He feels the Township is becoming less and less favorable to live in and has looked for alternative living arrangements.  He stated that this will affect others.   Commissioner Schin thinks this should have been in the original ordinance.  Commissioner Simpson believes it is just like lawn maintenance and needs to be taken care of by the residents. Discussion ensued.

Mr. Vernau suggested changing the wording to clearing around the hydrant versus a path onto the street.  He also suggested adding a clause for the problem of contracted snow removal pushing snow onto hydrants.  The Board agreed with these changes.

Commissioner HOLTZMAN made a motion to amend the ordinance to include the requirement to clear immediately around the hydrant and make it violation to cover the hydrant with snow or by snow plowing.  Commissioner SIMPSON seconded the motion.   Motion carried 5-0.

West Shore Recreation Commission 2017 Budget.

Mr. Vernau received West Shore Recreation Commission’s 2017 budget and contribution rate for the Township.  It is unchanged from last year.

Commissioner SCHIN made a motion to approve the requested 2017 contribution to West Shore Recreation Commission.  Commissioner HOLTZMAN seconded the motion.  Motion carried 5-0.

2017 Solicitor Fees

Mr. Vernau stated that the Township Solicitor has asked for an increase in his fees for 2017.  He is requesting a $15 per hour increase and a $30 increase for meetings.  The Board agreed to incorporate these requested increases into the 2017 budget.

David Holl probationary period

Mr. Vernau stated that Director Holl’s probationary period would end on September 14, 2016.

Commissioner SCHIN made a motion to move Director David Holl from probationary to regular full-time employment status in the position of Public Safety Director effective September 14, 2016.  Vice President YOUNG seconded the motion.  Motion carried 5-0.


Mr. Eby provided an update on a property discussed at the last meeting.  He spoke about the court appointment attorney and the settlement agreement is pending.

Mr. Grove spoke about a decision made by staff about the municipal services tax.  He contacted a few discovery companies who can help discover businesses not collecting or paying the tax.  One company also offers to collect the tax at a fee of 2.4% for existing levies and 3.5% for new levies.  However, Staff decided not to go to them for the collection as the rate may increase and there is protection with Cumberland County Tax Bureau (CCTB).  Mr. Vernau spoke to CCTB and they have agreed to assist the Township with identifying non-compliant businesses.  Discussion ensued.

Mr. Vernau spoke about an email he sent Friday regarding the DEP press release.

Commission Simpson spoke about attending the Eagle Scout presentation, which went well.

Commissioner Schin thanked Mr. Eby for sharing his emails and working through the permit process with the business.

Solicitor Miner thanked the Board for increase in fees for 2017.  He stated that the Development Authority will close on the 1993 Hummel Ave Building on 8/31 and thanked Staff for all their work.

Director Holl thanked the Board for the vote of confidence.  He spoke about working with Lieutenant Crone with the school district and getting ready for back to school.


The Regular Meeting of the Board of Commissioners adjourned to executive session at 9:44 pm to discuss the following items:

  1. Captain Salary.
  2. Employee Outside Employment.