Monthly Archives: December 2012

Supervisors Minutes November 19, 2012

Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA

November 19, 2012

TheWestfall Township Board of Supervisors held a Special meeting on Monday, November 19, 2012 at 7:00 PM. The meeting was held at the TownshipBuilding on Delaware Drive and La Barr Lane, WestfallTownship.

Those present were Chairman, Robert Ewbank; Vice-chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisors Raymond Banach, Larry Flansburg, and Robert Melvin; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy and Secretary, Lisa Green. Also present were Bill Schneider, Scott Myer, John Schneider, Dave Jones, Tony Brunovsky, Pete Lovelace, Rick Lander, Bill Hessling, Luis Bocaletti, Rob Llewellyn, Debra Banach, Laurie Mai, Lisa Mickles and Beth Brelje.

AGENDA:  Motion to approve the agenda was made by Supervisor Banach. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carried with all in favor.

PUBLIC COMMENT: None

NEW BUSINESS:

Introduce 2013 Proposed Budget: Chairman Ewbank said the proposed budget for 2013 is calling for a general fund millage of 16.7 and because we are above the 14 mil maximum we need to go to court for the other 2.7 mils. This has been done for the last several years. The total general fund budget is $1,091,833. The bottom line is the total millage is 31.2 mils which is the same as 2012. There will be no tax increase, millage will be moved around. Supervisor Banach asked to talk about the joint meeting because since the police department didn’t cut their budget we have to go back to the 2012 budget number which is a shortfall of $10,655. Supervisor Banach said he feels as a resident, tax payer, and supervisor he’s being held hostage by the Police Department, being that there are all different issues with litigation, one of them being Dombrosky; which some of that came from the Police Commission. Vice-chairman Fischer said the Commission was found not liable; it was the Supervisors that were found liable. Supervisor Banach said if the Commission gave Mr. Dombrosky his job back there would be no Dombrosky problem. Vice-chairman Fischer asked for it not to be placed on the Commission. Supervisor Banach said there are Supervisors wearing dual hats and sitting on the Commission and with that said we have something on our plate which we shouldn’t have and coming up with $10,655 is a burden to our taxpayers. Chairman Ewbank said we were also misled by the Borough of Matamoras because we were under the impression that they had approved the 2013 police budget and we found out last week that they were actually using the 2012 figures. Had we known that we probably could have made changes while we did our budget but we were looking at a big increase that now is probably not going to happen. Supervisor Melvin said when Matamoras started their budget process in September it was before the Police Department presented their budget. Discussion followed about the budgeting process between the Police Department, Matamoras Borough and Westfall Township. Supervisor Banach said since 2008 when he began being a Supervisor he’s been told that there was a contract between the officers and yet he has never seen that although he’s asked for it. Questioning how we were supposed to prepare our budget and come up with the cash when they keep getting increases.

Supervisor Melvin said he agrees that things should have been communicated better. Chairman Ewbank read a portion of the letter received from Attorney Tom Mincer which spoke of a four-year contract beginning January 1, 2012 and ending on December 31, 2015 where a 3% raise was given each year. Chairman Ewbank asked if anyone on the board has ever seen the contract stated he would like to see it. Further commenting how are we supposed to abide by the agreement what we have never seen it. No one has ever been given a copy of the contract. Supervisor Flansburg said if we are giving out raises we need to be a part of that agreement. Supervisor Melvin said it’s a little weird because you have a Police Commission that’s a semi-independent body constructed to figure out how to run the Police Department then you have the same people on their town Board and the Borough Council. He believes the salary increases were done in good faith and when you compare salaries to other police departments it was considered to be fair and reasonable. Further discussion followed. Supervisor Flansburg said his problem is there’s going to be new cars and new things however you can’t be promising people things that you don’t have. It needs to come to the Supervisors too and the board needs to become part of the process. Supervisor Banach questioned who the Supervisors were that signed the first and second agreements. Chairman Ewbank said he did not want to single out Vice-chairman Fischer however since he’s been on the Police Commission the longest he asked him if he was aware of the agreement and did he not feel the supervisors have a right to know about it. Vice-chairman Fischer said he was not aware that the supervisors did not have a copy of the agreement. Supervisor Flansburg said we asked for it and were told today that we could not have it. Solicitor Bernathy said this is a public record and that the negotiations leading up to the contracts are privileged however once the contract is finalized it is his understanding it becomes a matter of public record and can’t be disseminated. Supervisor Flansburg said he believes that raises are important and have a place however we need to be a part of the process. Solicitor Bernathy said he spoke to Attorney Mincer today and he was prepared to release the agreement however James Baron the Attorney for the collective bargaining unit said that we could not have. Supervisor Banach said that we in turn have contacted PSATS and they asked us to fill out a Right to Know request form because it is public record. Supervisor Banach handed Vice-chairman Fischer the Right to Know form requesting the collective bargaining agreement. Chairman Ewbank said it is public record and we need to be provided with it. Supervisor Melvin said he does not believe there was any cloak and dagger scheme he believes it was done in good faith. Supervisor Banach said if we don’t have the money now were not going to have it next year. Supervisor Flansburg said Matamoros had said that they were maxed out on their mils. Supervisor Melvin said the writing on the wall is where the state wants us to go which is that EIT, not saying that that’s what we’re deciding to do. Supervisor Banach said that goes against everything he believes in as a public official we have strived to either maintain or lower taxes, or only spend what is necessary to provide the services that we require. Further stating that the Police Officers work for the residents of Westfall Township and Matamoras Borough and the taxpayers pay their salaries, and it is the Supervisors job to maintain the budget and work within those constraints. Because if we don’t we’re done, we cannot afford to keep increasing the budget. Supervisor Banach said it would be fine if we didn’t have the lawsuits to pay for. Chairman Ewbank said it’s going to come down to if we cannot meet the budget were going to have to notify the Eastern Pike Regional Police Commission that we’re going to pull out. Stating that it could be an open ended letter that we don’t have to do it but if we can’t find the money we will. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed that the letter needs to be sent one year in advance. Supervisor Melvin said when this settlement goes down next year things will look better. Supervisor Banach said that the question on board is how we come up with the $10,655 so we don’t break the contract. Mr. Myer said at the risk of sounding obvious you either need to generate more income or cut expenses. What the board can do is add to the transfer from prior year surplus which were already taking. Supervisor Melvin questioned the assessment from Taco Bell and Monroe Optical and wondered how much the revenue stream would be from those buildings. Mr. Myer said real estate tax revenue is not an exact science and generally in the past it has been our policy to use that as a cushion. Supervisor Melvin said he realizes we don’t want to raise taxes however as different projects come in to town we will have the increase real estate taxes. However he understands that we can’t count on that. Supervisor Banach said everyone has given in and we have cut people, the highway department takes a hit as well as the fire department and yet the police department is getting an increase. Supervisor Banach questioned if they can do without another patrolman. Supervisor Melvin said there are contractual issues. Discussion followed as to what might possibly be cut. Bill Schneider spoke about the highway department budget stating if we have a good winter we could save money on salt and anti-skid. Further discussion followed.

Bob Bostinto said the board has tried cutting the budget and we are past bare-bones minimum. He’s suggesting a cigarette tax quoting different average prices for the tri-state area. Mr. Bostinto said in canvasing the stores in Westfall Township and adding a $.25 tax on each pack of cigarettes it would raise approximately $2000 a week times 52 weeks would be $104,000. Supervisor Melvin said he just wished we could do that because that is a state tax. Solicitor Bernathy said that is a state tax and he has given the Supervisors over the year’s different tax options and he we are down to the amusement tax. He has recommended the Earned Income Tax. He feels with the EIT there would be no challenges to it and 90% of the municipalities in the Commonwealth impose that tax. Supervisor Banach thanked Mr. Bostinto for looking into that stating the more people that search things out the better. Mr. Bostinto said we have an asset in sewer system and Milford needs to hook up to the sewer. He needs to speak to Commissioner Osterberg about this because there are is about $18 million in funding available. Mr. Bostinto said he doesn’t believe the amusement tax is the way to go. Supervisor Melvin said our immediate problem right now is how to come up with $10,655. Discussion followed regarding the amount of undeveloped property in Westfall Township. Supervisor Banach said the more commercial property we have more services we have to provide. Mr. Bostinto suggested offering a tax abatement to draw commercial developers. Supervisor Melvin said he is not sure the tax abatement is the way to go because he does not feel that we’ve ever had a problem with drawing commercial businesses to Westfall Township. Mr. Bostino asked for a laundry list or wish list of items the Supervisors needed to take back to Mr. Sullivan and his board to discuss. The board said right now they need $10,655.

Chairman Ewbank questioned what we were going to do about the budget. Supervisor Banach said he felt we should roll the dice and pray. Mr. Myer said what the board would be doing is taking an additional $10,655 from the $137,000 transfer from reserves. Supervisor Banach moved to add $10,655.55 to the transfer of from reserves. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carried with all a favor.

Regional Police: Chairman Ewbank moved to notify the Police Commission that if we can resolve our budget issues by this time next year that we are going to have to back out of the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department. Solicitor Bernathy said we need to give them one year’s notice. Supervisor Banach said it would be from today’s date to November 19, 2013. Chairman Ewbank said it would be an open ended letter. Vice Chairman Fischer asked what the alternative would be. Chairman Ewbank said we will go back to having our own Police Department. Supervisor Banach said that we would be back to having a few full-timers and part-timers with a backup by the State Police saying we can’t keep going forward like this. The Matamoras Council wants us to go 60-40 and he believes we should go back to 50-50 because according to the census numbers Westfall Township is down and Matamoras is up. Supervisor Melvin agreed that it should be 50-50. Discussion followed about negotiating with Matamoras on the Police Commission in order to make it 50-50. Supervisor Banach said he agrees with Chairman Ewbank and we need to give notice to the commission and Matamoras Borough that if we cannot get our finances in order that we will not be a part of them, we will figure a way to do it differently and the more we delay it as we did in the second lawsuit we just prolong the pain. We need to find a way to save the taxpayers money. Supervisor Flansburg said he is inclined to second the motion with the stipulation that all of the entities involved should get together and try to figure it out and if we can’t figure it out by next year this time or do something different. Vice-Chairman Fischer said what this does for morale would be damaging. Supervisor Flansburg said we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers. Discussion followed. Motion carries with three and favor and to opposed. Chairman Ewbank and Supervisors Flansburg and Banach vote in favor of sending the letter. Vice-chairman Fischer and Supervisor Melvin are opposed. Motion carries with three in favor.

Mike Bowe owner of The Grill located in Westfall Township questioned what financial responsibility stores such as Wal-Mart have when the police have to go multiple times for shoplifting, fights and disagreements. Supervisor Melvin said they pay their Township tax. Supervisor Flansburg said this is been the subject of great debate. Mr. Bowe asked if the Township can figure out a way to impose a fee. Solicitor Bernathy said they can prosecute their own retail theft and that would solve the problem. Any other criminal offenses would be covered by the Eastern Pike regional Police Department. The most of the responses to Wal-Mart and Kmart and such are retail theft. Supervisor Melvin said this will be on the docket at the December Police Commission meeting to discuss. Chairman Ewbank said also the subject of discussion has been the school police where you’re paying for two Police Department’s because school has police and EPRPD has to respond as well. Mr. Bowe said he doesn’t know how you can impose a sales tax but if there was a corporate tax that might be the answer as opposed to the amusement tax. Solicitor Bernathy said legally we cannot do that and that are only certain taxes can impose according to the Local Tax Enabling Act. Supervisor Melvin suggested Mr. Bowe speak to the County Commissioners because Supervisor Banach has been trying to get a countywide sales tax imposed.

Beth Brelje asked for clarification from the Supervisors on whether they will be pulling out of the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department one year from now if the budget is not agreed upon. Solicitor Bernathy said pursuant to the terms of the regionalization agreement in order to dissolve or breakup the Police Department the terms of the agreement require us to give one year advance notice. That is what the supervisors have agreed to do. That doesn’t mean that they will pull out or dissolve the department they are just giving notice. Vice-Chairman Fischer asked solicitor Bernathy if at the end of the year they have to do the same thing over again. Solicitor Bernathy said he would follow-up with a letter stating it is not our intention to dissolve the department and do that on a year-to-year basis. Supervisor Banach said with any luck they will find money.

Attorney John Schneider suggested having properties reassessed to get the tax base raised. Chairman Ewbank said that we will take that under advisement.

Municipal Authority – Land Development: Bill Schneider said the board has information in their packets regarding development the Municipal Authority needs to have constructed and questions if land development approval is needed. Solicitor Bernathy said to his knowledge they do need land development approval he does not believe that can be waived under the municipalities planning code. Therefore they would need to submit land development plans. Mr. Schneider questioned if being a utility makes the difference. Solicitor Bernathy said he will definitely check it out and give him an answer first thing tomorrow morning. Further stating if their Solicitor Anthony Waldron has any information he is welcome to submit it.

Agenda / Visitors: Supervisor Flansburg said he did not feel we treated our visitors fairly such as the Delaware Valley School District who was here are at the November 8, 2012 meeting and had to sit through 2 1/2 hour meeting until they made their three minute presentation. Supervisor Flansburg said he knows that John Bell from the school district will be attending our meeting in December and he feels we should recognize him at the start of the meeting. Solicitor Bernathy said the board can always amend the agenda at the beginning of the meeting to move the visitors up.

OLD BUSINESS:

Meet with Business owners re – Amusement Tax: Chairman Ewbank said we are at that portion of the meeting where we will be meeting with the business owners with ideas for the amusement tax or another way to raise funding. Attorney Schneider said he was not here at the last meeting; he sent a letter and called the secretary to make sure the Board knew that they would not be attending. As a practical matter the business owners fully appreciate what the board is trying to do, the reality is that the original ordinance targeted the canoe liveries and they waited for the new ordinance which they now have and understand that it is targeting all amusements in the Township. Solicitor Bernathy corrected Mr. Schneider by stating that was not true and that was the amusement and transaction tax that he was referring to. Mr. Schneider said he provided a memorandum of law as to what their legal position is regarding the tax and they still believe they are exempt under Federal law. Supervisor Flansburg asked who Mr. Schneider was representing. He is representing Dave Jones, of Kittatinny Canoes; Tony Brunovsky, of Indianhead Canoes; Pete Lovelace, Three River Canoe Corporation; and Rick Lander, Landers River Trips. Mr. Schneider said they start out with the position that they feel they are exempt. Solicitor Bernathy respectfully disagrees. Having said that Mr. Schneider said he does not want to rehash what was said before such as the issues that the administrative costs and compliance and how they have to report it. Stating it will cost more to the business owners to file this tax than the amount of money the Township would receive. Mr. Schneider said he doesn’t believe the tax would generate more than $7-$12,000 per year. One of the livery owners is not making any money. Mr. Schneider said they will be happy to do fundraisers and discussed ways to get money without generating a tax. Solicitor Bernathy asked what the alternative was other than fundraising. Mr. Schneider said the only other way other than fundraising would be to come up with some kind of donation. Supervisor Banach said speaking for himself the fire Department asked a few years ago for $.10 per canoe and that was shot down. Further stating that he had mentioned when he went out West to go hunting he had to pay $.25 and he was told by a resident that was voluntary, however he looked that up and it was mandatory and they have now added $.75 for education. Now it is an additional one dollar ($1.00) to get your license. Supervisor Melvin said the board has not talked about alternatives amongst themselves yet he has thought about the administrative costs. Solicitor Bernathy said perhaps they would offer something in lieu of a tax. Mr. Schneider said they are prepared to sit down and discuss that. Chairman Ewbank said there have been two other meetings that the business owners have been here and said they were looking to discuss alternatives to the tax and he thought that’s what we were going to do tonight. Supervisor Flansburg said that was the impression he got the last meeting also. Supervisor Banach said he rented a canoe and kayak from Kittatinny canoes in his receipt shows four people went down the River, he feels it would be simple to track because they know exactly how many people go down the River. Supervisor Banach said he does not know about the other liveries however Kittatinny canoes has it right on the receipt.

Beth Brelje asked why it is the canoe liveries responsibility to make an offer to the supervisors to not have the tax. Supervisor Melvin said otherwise we just impose the tax. Chairman Ewbank said they volunteered to come to us and discuss other ways to raise revenue. It is nobody’s job; the Supervisors are interested in what they have to say. Further stating if they have an idea of how to raise $10,000 we would love to hear it. Ms. Brelje asked if they don’t come up with some idea we would impose the tax. Chairman Ewbank said not necessarily. Supervisor Banach said the Secretary and our staff invited every business owner to come to the meeting tonight. Malibu Dude Ranch said they would do anything they could to help the Township. Solicitor Bernathy told Mr. Bowe that if he doesn’t charge an admission his business would not be affected. Mr. Bowe asked why the Supervisors were allowed to impose the amusement tax. Solicitor Bernathy said because this is one of the taxes under the Local Tax Enabling Act that the supervisors are permitted to impose. Supervisor Flansburg said this is one thing under the Local Tax Enabling Act that we can do, the other is the earned income tax and we do not want to impose that because in the first year residents would be paying property taxes and the earned income tax and may be getting a double hit. Bob Bostinto questioned if there was a difference between the tax and surcharge. Solicitor Bernathy said we have exhausted what we can do to raise revenue and that includes asking the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors for suggestions that they could make and a surcharge was not one of them. Supervisor Flansburg said that the last meeting we showed a newspaper article from the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau stating they had their best year in 75 years collecting over $4 million. So we listened to her at the public hearing stating that we couldn’t do this or that and in reality she wasn’t telling us the truth. Mr. Bostinto questioned where the liability gets covered for somebody acting stupid on the River or having an accident on the River. Supervisor Flansburg asked if they sign a waiver. Mr. Jones said they do sign a waiver of liability. Solicitor Bernathy said it’s an assumption of risk when you go out on the River. Supervisor Banach said he wanted to stress this is not for EMS. Chairman Ewbank asked Mr. Hessling from the school district if he had any input on this. Mr. Hessling said they are taxing body also and they understand that were hurting for revenue but 50% of the gate receipts is probably students money. He questioned the relay for life for the cancer society. Chairman Ewbank said did not charge an admission for the relay for life. Mr. Hessling said there are four sports they charge for, football, girls’ and boys’ basketball and wrestling, and the total receipts are approximately $18,000 so 1% would be $180. Solicitor Bernathy said possibly they could do something in lieu of the tax to alleviate some of the internal costs that the school district and liveries would have. Mr. Hessling said a reasonable estimate is $150 – $180. Chairman Ewbank said when this is all said and done we might find that it’s not worth it. We are just trying to determine that. Supervisor Melvin said maybe we could do something based on last year’s numbers. Mr. Schneider said we are at a public meeting and they said everything that they’re going to say and he would like to keep the dialogue open. Vice-chairman Fischer suggested meeting with two members of the board. Solicitor Bernathy said if there’s a proposal that they have he could understand why they didn’t want to discuss them in public, however it was going to be pretty easy for people to figure out the numbers. Mr. Schneider said with all due respect that’s assuming the Township is going to win. Supervisor Melvin questioned if we want to have two Supervisors meet with the livery owners.

Beth Brelje said it makes it tricky and it sounds like the Supervisors are taking something that really needs to be in the public eye and circumventing the sunshine law. Solicitor Bernathy said the Supervisors can meet with anybody that they like at any time. That is not a violation of the sunshine law. Further stating that the Supervisors can speak to constituents on an individual basis. Supervisor Melvin said no decision will be made. Further discussion followed. Ms. Brelje said it is a curious habit. Solicitor Bernathy said this is not a habit at all.

ADJOURNMENT: The special meeting adjourned at 8:45 pm on a motion by Supervisor Banach.  Motion is seconded by Supervisor Flansburg and carries with all in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa A. Green, Secretary

Joint Meeting November 13, 2012

Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA
November 13, 2012

A joint workshop meeting was held on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 for the purpose of discussing joint services between Matamoras Borough and Westfall Township. The meeting was held at the Borough Annex on Avenue I and 1st Street in Matamoras, PA.

Present for Westfall Township were Chairman, Robert Ewbank; Vice-Chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisors Raymond Banach, Larry Flansburg and Robert Melvin; and Secretary, Lisa Green.

Present for Matamoras Borough were Council President, Dayne Losee, JoAnn Featherman, Peter Sigreto, Dave Clark, Joe Sain, Mayor Janet Clark, Solicitor Eric Hamill and Secretary, Nancy Buchanan.

Also present were Gary Babb, Chuck Pranski, Eric Stewart and approximately 12 members of the general public.

Mr. Losee opened the meeting at 7 PM with introductions.

Compost Facility: Mr. Losee asked what the board wanted to talk about. Supervisor Banach asked how things were working out at far as leaf pickup and questioned if there were any concerns out there between the boards and the public. Councilman Dave Clark explained that we stopped allowing commercial businesses to use the compost facility because we were running out of space. It is now only open to residents. There are keys at the Westfall Municipal Office and a key at the Borough Hall and residents who wish to use the facility stop and get the key and go. On Saturday Gary Babb is watching the gate and his salary is split between the two muni-cipalities. Mr. Clark said he believes it’s a fair thing to do and the right thing to do to share the costs and the work. What he would like to do is make it more accessible to residents to take stuff out of there, and figure out a way to harvest compost and make it available to residents. Mr. Clark continued by saying he believes that would extend the use of the compost facility. Chairman Ewbank said there are big piles of wood chips there and they are available to anyone who wants to take them. Supervisor Banach said there are only two municipalities in the county that can get grants and Matamoras is one of them. He would like to see us work together to obtain them. Supervisor Banach said maybe we could talk about obtaining grants to get a commercial transfer station. Discussion followed regarding the original agreement for the compost facility to see if it is allowable to sell material. Chairman Ewbank said the agreement addresses marketing but does not say whether or not it can be sold.

Chuck Pranski asked about setting aside space for the commercial users and charging them to dump yet make their area a restricted area so it can be monitored, and use that money to try and offset whatever equipment is needed. Mr. Losee said they used to charge for commercial users but have since stopped because they were running out of space. Further commenting that if the Township was interested in giving Matamoras half of what is sold they want half of what was sold in the past. Supervisor Banach said they haven’t sold any space. Chairman Ewbank questioned Mr. Clark as to whether they found in the agreement the prohibition of commercial users. Mr. Clark and Mrs. Featherman both remembered that to be true. Further discussion followed. Mr. Babb suggested if you’re going to start offering compost the pile should be separated out because right now people are dumping everything into one pile, however this would need to be monitored.

Leaf Collection: Chairman Ewbank said the Township is trying to figure out a way to eliminate burning in the section of Westfall Township that borders the Borough of Matamoras. This will basically be a triangle that will run along I 84 to the Westfall Firehouse then up Mountain Avenue extension to the mountain coming back along Mountain Avenue to 10th Street and back down to the Airport. Chairman Ewbank said in order to do something about the burning we need a way to collect the leaves. In order to do this Westfall would either need to borrow the leaf machine or help Matamoras pick up the leaves for a fee. He doesn’t know if the township can afford that. Mr. Clark said he is reluctant to lend out the leaf machine because it is a temperamental machine and he wants his guys to operate it. The proposal that he prepared averaged out to 2 1/2 men however if Westfall Township wanted to donate a man to reduce the cost he is in favor of that but it has to be a Council decision. Supervisor Melvin said that is only a 10 or $12 an hour reduction and that there are several issues to work out. Supervisor Banach said then you would have people from Pond Eddy paying to have leaves picked up in Bell Manor and he felt the residents would be upset with that, suggesting that we could possibly tax the residents whose leaves were being picked up such as we do for street lighting a fire hydrant. Mrs. Green said she did not believe you could tax for leaf collection. Mr. Losee said people were going to be upset when they are told they could not burn their leaves. Discussion followed. Chairman Ewbank said the ordinance would be to cover the congested area of Westfall Township. Mr. Losee said inter-municipality agreements will need to be drafted. Supervisor Banach suggested have being Mr. Clark meet with a few members of Westfall Township to iron this out. Supervisor Melvin said we have the issue with compensating for the leaves to be picked up as well as an enforcement issue and those are two big hurdles. Mr. Losee said Westfall would either be with Matamoras forever or they would need to buy their own leaf machine. Their machine cost $26,000. Discussion ended on this matter.

Police Department: Mr. Losee said the Matamoras budget is almost complete and they have given the Police Department what they asked for. Mrs. Featherman said the police gave them the 2012 budget originally which Matamoras agreed with and then they gave them the 2013 proposed budget, of which Matamoras did not approve. Supervisor Melvin confirmed that Matamoras was at the 2012 budget and that Westfall budget for 2012 was $386,655 and right now our budget is $375,182 which is approximately $10,000 less than 2012. Supervisor Banach said we need to cut the budget $10,000 in ordered to deliver what they need to for our residents. Vice-Chairman Fisher said at the Police Commission meeting they were told by their solicitor that if Matamoras and Westfall did not agree on the budget they would need to fall back to the prior year’s budget. Solicitor Hamill said that is his understanding of the agreement. Solicitor Hamill read language from the agreement that stated that the Police Commission will prepare a budget no later than October 1st and if approvals by the participating municipalities have not been consummated prior year’s budget shall be operative until approvals are given. So if there is no approval of the new budget than the prior budget would stand. Supervisor Banach said if Westfall reduced it by $10,000 then Matamoras would need to reduce theirs by a certain percentage. Pete Sigreto said he was shot down by the attorney for the commission last night saying he was wrong in reading the contract. The split is 53/47 where Westfall is paying more. Supervisor Flansburg said

it is about the agreement part of it stating that if Westfall needed to reduce their budget and Matamoras held the line then we would have to go to the prior year’s budget but if Matamoras agreed to reduce their budget then Westfall’s budget would stand. Mr. Losee said he is not going to vote to change his numbers, because Westfall Township is not going to dictate to him on how he votes. Mr. Sigreto said both municipalities need to do our budgets at the same time next year stating that Matamoras started early because they needed to go to court for a tax increase. Discussion followed regarding being maxed out on their budgets. Mr. Losee suggested discussing the percentage saying he believes it should be more like 60/40 or 55/45 range. Supervisor Melvin said the contract states it is based upon census. Solicitor Hamill said it would be apportioned on an equitable basis in accordance with determination by the bodies. It seems that there’s three different ways to read the agreement. Supervisor Banach said that we’re struggling to meet the budget as it is, and we have 17 or 18 years to pay for Katz and 10 years to pay for Dombrosky, further stating our backs are to the wall. Mr. Sigreto did not understand why the Police Department is down one man and not able to put him on after one officer left to become a state trooper. Discussion followed.

Beth Brelje asked if Westfall is allowed to offer less than the 2012 budget. Solicitor Hamill said that anything is allowed if everyone agrees on it.

Both Mr. Clark and Mrs. Featherman said they are with Mr. Losee and that they do not want to reduce the police budget. Mr. Clark said the whole Borough Council agreed on keeping with the 2012 police budget and that is their answer. Further discussion followed about the budget process.

Chuck Pranski said he is tired of being taxed and he does not want to see the taxes go up. The Supervisor’s explained that taxes are not going up, the total millage will remain at 31.2 mills however they do need to go to court to ask for a tax increase over the general millage rate which they’ve had to do nearly every year for the past several years. Mr. Pranski questioned why the Township is cutting the police budget yet hiring a full-time man for the highway department saying it doesn’t make any sense to him. Mr. Pranski said he’s afraid to walk down the street at night to go for a walk so he’s had to join a gym. Chairman Ewbank said we had three budget meetings that Mr. Pranski did not attend. Mr. Losee told Mr. Pranski to attend the Westfall Township Budget meeting next Monday. Further discussion followed regarding the total budget process. Supervisor Banach said that you have to have the money to afford the services and at the present time we don’t have it. Mr. Pranski questioned if Westfall Township would be breaching the agreement by cutting the budget $10,000 less. Chairman Ewbank said they have to go back into the budget and see if they can cut more money, but right now yes. Supervisor Banach said that we have asked for a County Sales Tax from Lisa Baker but the Commissioners don’t want to do it and yet Westfall would benefit a great deal because we have the majority of the businesses. Vice-Chairman Fisher said we cannot impose an impact fee commenting that there are many things that we’ve been trying to do and we are limited to what we are allowed, stating our hands are tied. Supervisor Banach said there’s been discussion in the past about abolishing either Westfall Township or Matamoras to become one entity and that it sounds crazy but there’s all sorts of money out there for shared services, commenting it may benefit the community to do something like that. Supervisor Banach said that both municipalities pay taxes for the police department and yet we have school police that we’re paying taxes for also. This is a duplication of services. Discussion followed. Mr. Losee said he does not want to belabor the point.

Beth Brelje questioned if Westfall does not meet the 2012 budget thereby breaking the contract if Matamoras would respond to them legally. Mr. Losee said he doubts it.

Emergency Management Office: Mr. Losee said we share the facility and Mr. Babb has a beautiful facility. Mr. Sigreto said he has a letter from Chairman Ewbank dated September 20, 2012 and he is very offended by it. Chairman Ewbank said he admits he sent the letter but doesn’t believe things were handled the correctly. Mr. Sigreto was very upset and asked if he should read the letter publically further stating that is why they sent a negative response. Discussion followed regarding the emergency management office, how it operated and what they were able to do during Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Sigreto spoke on the NIMS requirements. Chairman Ewbank said the classes are hard to come by, however he just signed up for a class for December 10-14. Mr. Sigreto said Chairman Ewbank needs to contact George Boedecker to get classes scheduled. Chairman Ewbank was going directly through Roger Maltby the County Emergency Management Coordinator. Mr. Losee commented on how well the men work together. Mr. Babb said ever since the emergency management office started and Westfall joined with them that the guys have always worked very well together. Supervisor Banach questioned if we can share people for the emergency management office. Mr. Babb and Chairman Ewbank both said they already do that. Mr. Sigreto asked Mr. Babb to explain the equipment in the emergency management office.

Beth Brelje said during hurricane Sandy she made numerous calls to Westfall Township and calls to Matamoras Borough stating it was easy to get through to Matamoras Borough however she could not get through to Westfall Township and questioned what the secret was. Chairman Ewbank said there was no secret you couldn’t call the municipal office because we had no power thereby not having a phone and offered to give out his cell phone number. Mr. Babb said if Chairman Ewbank and not be reached that he or Mr. Oliver have ways of getting in touch with him.

Other Shared Services: Supervisor Banach questioned if there were other areas that we are duplicating that we may be able to consolidate and save money. Supervisor Flansburg said for instance when Nelson could dump and not use their dump truck it saved Matamoras money. Chairman Ewbank said there was a study done in 2007 about merging the street departments together however it fell through the cracks, commenting that this is one area that we could discuss where we might possibly be able to save money.

Mr. Pranski questioned if we purchase fuel together stating we may be able to save money there for the road department and the fire department. Supervisor Banach stated he understands that could be a good idea negotiating for larger amount of fuel. Mr. Clark said there could be a lot of environmental concerns with that.

Other points were brought up regarding salt and health insurance. Mr. Clark said regarding the highway department there may be a lot of things we could share but we have to take baby steps and learn to get along.

Further stating that there are many of the same families in both Matamoras and Westfall Township and that you’re really talking about the same people. Mr. Losee said the guys work very well together from both municipalities but when you put the politician’s in the mix things get all screwed up.

Janet Clark said as Mayor of Matamoras it is time that the politicians got together to know what’s going on commenting that we need each other to get along.

Mr. Pranski offered a suggestion for the leaf pickup saying we should use and one man from the Borough with their leaf machine and a piece of equipment and one man from Westfall Township. Chairman Ewbank said that is what they are talking about.

Supervisor Banach said this is the first step and he thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and said that this is about money and it’s going to get harder and harder every year for everybody to afford what’s going on and if we don’t brainstorm and come up with ideas we’re going to be stuck. Further discussion followed about the leaf pickup. Mr. Losee said if Westfall Township wants to ban burning then ban burning but don’t put the onus on Matamoras Borough. Discussion followed.

A Matamoras resident asked to go back to the police department discussion commenting that he’s from New York City and had less locks there than he does in Matamoras Borough. He’s sleeping on the couch with a shotgun for fear that somebody’s going to break into his house and harm his family. This resident said the priority should be the police department and we shouldn’t be worried about a burning ban, leaf pickup or the highway department. He stated we have to meet the budget and we should come up with whatever amount of money they ask for. Mr. Pranski said there is a lot of things he does for the police department because he owns his own business in town and if not for him and a few others police department budget may be higher. Mr. Losee thanked the gentleman for their comments.

Beth Brelje questioned when Westfall Township would be ratifying their budget. Mrs. Green said they are introducing the budget Monday, November 19, 2012 and they will be adopting the budget on December 19, 2012.

Adjournment: Meeting adjourned at 8:32 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa A. Green, Secretary

Supervisor Minutes November 8, 2012

WestfallTownship, Matamoras, PA

November 8, 2012

The regular meeting of the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors was held Tuesday, November 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm following a public hearing on the Amusement Tax. The meeting was held at the TownshipBuilding on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, WestfallTownship.

Those present were Chairman, Robert Ewbank; Vice-Chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisors, Raymond Banach, Larry Flansburg and Robert Melvin; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy and Secretary, Lisa Green. Also present were Treasurer, Scott Myer; Zoning Officer, Michael Rendleman; Bill Schneider, Luis Bocaletti, Ken Zielazny, Michael Barth, Lisa Mickles, Beth Brelje, John and Tina Hess, Marvin Eversdyke, Chris Lordi,  and approximately 6 members of the general public.

AGENDA: Supervisor Flansburg added possible litigation for Eshelman to the agenda under executive session.  Chairman Ewbank said we will be deleting the Amusement Tax under new business. The amended agenda was approved on a motion by Supervisor Flansburg. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carries with all in favor.

PUBLIC COMMENT: None

MINUTES: Minutes of the following meeting were approved on a motion by Supervisor Banach: October 2, 2012 Public Hearing, October 2, 2012 Regular Meeting, October 9, 2012 Budget Meeting, October 17, 2012 Public Hearing and October 17, 2012 Special Meeting. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Flansburg and carries with all in favor.

TREASURER’s REPORT: Scott Myer gave the treasurer’s report for January – October stating that income is in line with where we expect to be which is 100% of budget and expenses were in line until we made the first settlement payment. While other line items are in line. Supervisor Banach moved to approve report. Motion seconded by Vice-Chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.

POLICE REPORT: Supervisor Melvin said Police Chief, Chad Stewart was unable to attend the meeting. Chairman Ewbank said we have the Eastern Pike Regional Police Department report if anyone would like to see it stating that it is here on file.  Supervisor Flansburg moved to approve the police report. Motion seconded by Vice-Chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.

FIRE DEPARTMENT: Ken Zielazny gave the Mill Rift Fire Department report for October stating they had a Monthly Meeting on the 9th, a standby with Hugenot on the 13th, a work night on the 18th, storm preparations on the 28th, utility wires on Burger Ct and Cottage Ct on the 29th, storm damage as well as a fire on the 29th, Main firehouse was out of power on the 29th and they were powered by a generator. They provided water, device charging, and hot food to the public. Total man-hours for the month were 141, total equipment hours the year or 125.

Luis Bocaletti gave the Westfall Township Fire Department Report for October reporting 1 possible commercial structure fire, 1 Landing zone, 3 Motor Vehicle Accidents, 3 Auto Alarm – Commercial false, 1 standby, 1 search, 1 CO2 incident, 1 gas leak, 1 vehicle fire, 36 Tree/wires, 2 telephone poles on fire, 1 tree into a house, 1 Standby, 1 public service call, 2 smoke investigation. Total calls for October are 55, year to date 218. Squad calls for the month are 49 calls in Westfall Township, 9 calls covering squad 33, and 2 calls covering squad 19. Members also attended various training courses. Mr. Bocaletti thanked the Township, the road department, Mill Rift Fire Department and Orange and Rockland for their help during the storm, stating that everyone worked well together. Mr. Bocaletti also thanked everyone for attending the open house on October 21st.  The department is also partnering up with Picatinny Arsenal to help victims of hurricane Sandy. They will be taking food, clothing, diapers, formula, until Sunday. Chairman Ewbank said he was out during the storm and wanted to thank both fire departments for doing an excellent job. Motion to accept both reports made by Vice-Chairman Fischer. Motion seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carries with all in favor.

HIGHWAY REPORT: Bill Schneider gave the report for October stating that they worked on equipment as well as lawn mowing for the Township properties. Paving was completed on Glass House Hill. They set up for Election Day, two drivers attended a safety driver training class put on by PennDOT, worked on storm cleanup from Hurricane Sandy. Heaters Hill was the most hardly hit area. Trees were down on most Township Roads, however between the highway department and the Mill Rift and Westfall fire departments they had all roads open by 2:30 AM on Tuesday morning, including PennDOT roads, which were Delaware Drive to Mill Rift and Cummins Hill Road. Mr. Schneider thanked both fire departments for their assistance commenting that it is the volunteers who were out in the middle of the storm that should be thanked. Chairman Ewbank said that the fire department was able to borrow a hot stick from the Matamoras fire department to check wires that were down blocking their truck. With that they were able to determine that the wires were dead and they were able to remove the tree from the roadway and move their equipment. Mr. Schneider explained that even though wires are dead it is still dangerous to cut a tree on wires because if someone hooks their generator into their fuse box while you are cutting the tree the electric feeds through the lines and can kill you. Supervisor Melvin said it’s important to wait until Orange and Rockland is there because the majority of generators are hooked up improperly and there is a proliferation of generators out there now. Adding that the fire departments and highway department did an excellent job, and stated that it should be remembered during donation time when fundraisers are held. Supervisor Flansburg moved to approve the report. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Banach and carried with all in favor.

BUILDING/ZONING REPORT: Michael Rendleman gave the report stating there were four building permits, two electrical permits, one sign and one zoning permit issued. Total fees of $4399.12 were collected. Supervisor Banach moved to accept the report. Motion is seconded by Vice-Chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.

CORRESPONDENCE: On dais for review.

OLD BUSINESS:

Act 47 Monthly Report: Solicitor Bernathy stated the Township anticipates being removed from the plan by January of 2013. The Township continues to operate within the confines of its budget and continues to meet its financial obligations. The Township continues to provide essential services.  Supervisor Melvin moved to approve report. Motion is seconded by Vice-Chairman Fischer and carries with all in favor.

NEW BUSINESS:

Ordinance # 158 –Amusement Tax: Tabled.

Building Permits -1000 Square-Foot Exemption: Lisa Green stated that the building inspector suggested that we reduce the exemption to 250 ft.² because this is what most municipalities have done and he feels the 1000 ft.² is too high. Discussion followed. Solicitor Bernathy said the average is 200 ft.². The board had mixed feelings. Supervisor Banach wanted to see how this affects people. He would like to have the building inspector give us more information. Mike Rendleman said this is set by the state and this has to be registered with the Department of Labor and Industry. Supervisor Melvin suggested having Solicitor Bernathy look into it while were waiting for information from the Building Inspector.

Non Uniform MMO: Mrs. Green said this is something that has to be done every year. The MMO has been prepared by our Actuary Ron Roth and this year’s obligation is zero, which means the plan is doing well. Supervisor Banach moved to accept the MMO for 2013. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Melvin and carries with all in favor.

VVA Veterans Day Celebration: Chairman Ewbank said we have a letter from the Vietnam Veterans Administration that they will be hosting a service at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Milford on November 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM, reminding everyone that all gave some, some gave all-and others are still giving.

Letters to Fire & Police Departments re: 6 month report of funds: Supervisor Banach said he would like a letter to go out to the three departments we fund, Mill Rift and Westfall Township fire departments as well as the police department, requesting a six and nine month report of funds allowing us see where the departments are at well before budget time. Supervisor Flansburg said he thought that was a good idea. Supervisor Melvin said the police department reports on a monthly basis to the commission and they could share that with the board. Supervisor Flansburg moved to have the secretary send letters to the police and fire departments requesting the report of funds. Motion is seconded Vice-Chairman Fischer and carries with all favor.

Resignation of Alex Cena – Upper Delaware Counsel: Chairman Ewbank said we received a letter from Alex Cena resigning from the Upper Delaware Counsel as he is moving to Texas. He will be keeping his house here but will only be here on a part-time basis. Chairman Ewbank commented that he is our webmaster and questioned what would happen with that. Mrs. Green said she spoke to Mr. Cena about that and as he has taught her how to post minutes and such on the website that he didn’t feel it would be a problem to continue as webmaster. Mrs. Green said she just posted the no parking for winter hours on the website and that the times are from 6 PM to 6 AM stating that should be changed as this was discussed in the past. The board asked to put that on the agenda for the next meeting. Supervisor Melvin moved to accept Mr. Cenas’ resignation and send a letter of thanks. Motion is seconded Supervisor Banach and carried with all in favor. There is now vacancy created that we need to fill.

SUBDIVISION REVIEW AND ACTION:

Delaware Valley School District Gym Addition: Mrs. Green said we have the NPDES permit that we were waiting for. Solicitor Bernathy questioned whether or not Al Handy has seen the permit. Chris Lordi  representing the Delaware Valley School District said he has seen it and they have a letter of credit in the amount of $50,020 to pose in lieu of a bond for the sidewalks. Solicitor Bernathy said a motion needs to be made to approve the Delaware Valley School District gym addition land development plan with the acknowledgment that the NPDES permit has been received, in addition to accepting the letter of credit in the amount of $50,020 in lieu of the bond. Supervisor Banach questioned if the letter of credit will be updated annually. It will be. Supervisor Flansburg moved to approve the motion stated by Solicitor Bernathy. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Banach and carries with all favor.

                    

Smokers Choice: Chairman Ewbank said that Smokers Choice will be tabled to December 4, 2012. Solicitor Bernathy said he had a conversation with the attorney for Smokers Choice who said he was submitting a letter extending the Township’s general extension for purposes of deemed approval. Mrs. Green said she does have the letter. Solicitor Bernathy said the Township is obligated to act on plans within a certain period of time. Only the applicant can extend the time. Vice-Chairman Fischer move to accept the letter waiving the time restriction. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Flansburg and carries with all in favor. Mr. Hess questioned if
there would be a workshop Smokers Choice. Solicitor Bernathy answered no and said they will be heard at the December 4, 2012 meeting.

Monroe LBL LLC: Mrs. Green said she does not have a letter from the planning commission however we have the minutes of October 23, 2012 where they heard on their agenda the third revision for Monroe LBL LLC. Solicitor Bernathy said Planning is recommending the third revision be approved based upon correspondence from American Water dated October 12, 2012. Solicitor Banach moved to approve the plan. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Flansburg and carried with all favor.

Mr. Barth asked if there is a requirement of Smokers Choice to notify the neighbors and whether or not the berm needs to be added. Mr. Barth also questioned if you were able to see the plan. Solicitor Bernathy answered that is public record and that will be on the supervisors agenda on December 4, 2012.

Tina Hess questioned if Smokers Choice was here at the October 19 meeting. Mrs. Hess was told there was no meeting on October 19th and that Smokers Choice has not been before the supervisors yet. Chairman Ewbank said for the record at the October 23, 2012 meeting of the planning board there were two members in favor and two abstained votes and one member absent so there is no recommendation for Smokers Choice yet.

Executive Session: called and 8:40 PM for possible litigation for Eshelman.

Back in session: 8:50.

Solicitor Bernathy directed Mrs. Green to send a letter to the district attorney’s office indicating that it is the Supervisors understanding that charges have been filed against the previous treasurer for the Mill Rift Fire Department and that it is the township’s position with that said that those funds that may have been improperly or illegally taken may be in fact taxpayer dollars and we would like to be listed with their office as a victim for purposes of impact.

ADJOURNMENT: Meeting was adjourned at 8:51 pm on a motion by Supervisor or Banach. Motion seconded by Vice-Chairman Fischer and carried with all in favor.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lisa A. Green, Secretary

Public Hearing November 8, 2012

Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA

November 8, 2012

A public hearing was held on Thursday, November 8, 2012 for the purpose of taking public comment on the proposed Amusement Tax for Westfall Township. The meeting was held at the WestfallTownshipBuilding on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, Matamoras, PA18336 at 7:02 p.m.

Those present were Chairman, Robert Ewbank, Vice-Chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisors, Raymond Banach, Larry Flansburg, and Robert Melvin; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy and Secretary, Lisa Green. Also present were Treasurer, Scott Myer, Allen Johns, Beth Brelje, Rick Lander, Dave Jones, Michael Barth, Lisa Mickles, Eric Hamill, Luis Bocaletti, Suparmanto, Manager of the Best Western and approximately 30 members of the general public.

Chairman Ewbank thanked everyone for coming to the meeting stating we would be having a public hearing on the Amusement tax and turned the meeting over to Solicitor Bernathy.

Solicitor Bernathy said this is the date, time and place for the continuation of a previous proceeding that was conducted by the supervisors with specific regard to impose an amusement tax. That proceeding was held on October 2, 2012 and we are going to incorporate the minutes of that proceeding into the minutes of this proceeding. Since we were last here changes were made by way of modification to the amusement tax ordinance and those changes were advertised on three occasions in the Pike County Dispatch and proof of publication with regard to those advertisements will be incorporated into the preceding. When we last were here at the supervisors acknowledge that there was significant discussion and a lot of questions were asked. With that the supervisors as part of the continuation agreed to schedule a meeting with local business owners and invited them to attend a meeting on October 17, 2012. That meeting did occur and unfortunately the only business owner that came to the meeting was for Malibu Dude Ranch indicating that they had no objection to the amusement tax. Since we were last hear we have been able to gather some additional information regarding some of the businesses that are conducted by way of amusement here in WestfallTownship and we are going to supplement the record with specific regard to some information that was put together for us by the Eastern Pike regional Police Department. That is a docket of all of the responses made to some of the businesses that provide amusements in the Township. It is fairly significant as far as responses are concerned and the Township also notes the additional emergency response that is provided by various emergency responders here WestfallTownship. Again for purposes of economy we note that there are persons here who have already been heard at the previous proceeding. What we would like to do is ask if there is anyone present first who did not have the opportunity to be heard at the October 2nd proceeding that those persons be recognized. If there is anything that they would like to say for purposes of the record Solicitor Bernathy asked that they would raise their hands and be recognized.

Suparmanto the General Manager for the Best Western Inn at Hunts Landing said he believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to improve the life   and the continuation of growth and this Township yet he believes that all of those in the amusement business are being penalized. Suparmanto said that he knows it will affect his business because those people that are coming in on bus trips are elderly and any time he tries to raise the rates they say they can’t afford it.

Solicitor Bernathy asked attorney Hamill if he was here on behalf of anyone. Mr. Hamill said he is here on behalf of himself. Solicitor Bernathy asked if he was a resident of the Township. Mr. Hamill is not. Solicitor Bernathy asked if he owned the business and the Township. Mr. Hamill said he is a shareholder and on the board of directors of Slatestone Hunting Club and he is here because he saw the tax in the paper and he feels it has a strange impact on landowners as well as business owners here in the Township. He sees this tax as a strange tax commenting that if he plays a game of pool and puts for quarters and the machine is there going to have to be an extra slot to put the penny in? Otherwise it the 1% will come off the business owner’s gross income. So he believes it is a fairly significant tax even though it seems small. Giving further examples such as football game charging three dollars and having to pay $3.03. Mr. Hamill said someone would have to go down to the bank to pick up change to give out, stating they won’t do that they will just take it off the top of the three dollars and lose money. Commenting that the next step would be hiring somebody to do the tax returns because it’s due by the 10th of the next month. Suggesting this is a significant burden to the business owners. Mr. Hamill questioned if tricky trays and turkey shoots are going to be taxed as well. Mr. Hamill said for the past couple of years he has been contacted by Berkheimer Associates, wanting him to disclose his payroll and employees to see if one of his employees lives in an area where there is a local income tax. Further stating that if he needs to file additional tax returns he will not hire somebody from an area that has a local income tax. Saying the tax is not really being paid by someone else. It’s coming out of the business owners.

Supervisor Flansburg asked Mr. Hamill if he is suggesting that the tax should lie squarely on the backs of the residents. Further stating that everyone is standing up and saying don’t hurt us while all of the residents in the Township are already being hurt. Discussion followed. Supervisor Flansburg said we did not meet the Fire Department budget or the Police Department budget this year and for the additional money that we may collect on the amusement tax it might make that up.

Chairman Ewbank said each year we have to go to Court to ask for an increase above the 14 Mills that we are allowed by law to tax and this year we need to ask a 2.7 mill increase instead of the 1.7 Mills we’ve been requesting for the last several years.

Supervisor Banach said it is not to hurt the businesses, it is to make it fair for the residents commenting that someone who owns a $1 million home in Westfall Township will pay the same tax rate as the Best Western. Further questioning how many times did the homeowner call the Fire Department and the Police Department and have the ambulance come to their house. How many times are they using the service and yet they’re taxed at the same rate. There are people who come into our town and do things. Saying if it’s three cents its three cents and the business owners are saying that doesn’t count. But we are cutting things on our budget that are $10, $20 and $50 and if you keep putting pennies in the jar it adds up. Supervisor Banach further stated yes it may be a little bit of a burden but Solicitor Bernathy often speaks of the Earned Income Tax and we could take every business owner who earns $100,000 and tax them 3% and the School District will tax too and in his opinion that’s not fair because you’re taking the higher earners in the Township and giving them a double whammy. Saying the low income people don’t care because it’s not a big tax for them. This tax the board fails is fairer because it will be passed on to the transient person who uses our facilities.

Mr. Hamill feels the businesses supplement the income of the area as opposed to the households because the households burden the schools and add to the roadways. The business may call emergency responders more, but they are paying more tax.

Supervisor Banach said at the last meeting, it was disclosed that Kittatinny Canoes paid approximately $7000 in property taxes to WestfallTownship, Landers pays $395 and Indianhead pays $633. Mr. Hamill said they also employ the local kid, buy gas here and he feels we are biting the hand that feeds us. Discussion followed.

Chairman Ewbank said we have figures from the Westfall Fire Department showing their cost over the past several years to be over $50,000.

Michael Barth asked if the school is exempt. Solicitor Bernathy said we’ve calculated the figures and the amount of money from the school district would be up proximately $200. Stating we may be able to negotiate with them in order to cut down on what happens internally with the school district. Solicitor Bernathy said we are sensitive to that. However, does not find that the school district is exempt. Mr. Barth said he knows if you use the ambulance you are charged for it and questioned why can’t we charge for river rescues. Supervisor Melvin said the fire department soft bill’s and in doing that after two attempts at billing they do not go into collection. Supervisor Flansburg said we as a Township cannot bill for that.

Beth Brelje questioned of the $50,000 that Chairman Ewbank mentioned to be a cost to the Fire Department how much of that is from private citizens that took canoes on the River as opposed to who rented from the livery owners. Chairman Ewbank said those costs are for the purchase of the boat, boat repairs man-hours and not split up by users.

Luis Bocaletti, who represents the Westfall Township Fire Department wanted to let the people present know that this tax was not the idea of the Fire Department. Stating they may benefit from it but the whole amount of the tax will not go to them. Chairman Ewbank said we cut the Fire Department budget this year and we are trying to find a way to give some money back to them. Supervisor Melvin said in fairness to Luis the Fire Department did not ask the supervisors to impose this tax. Supervisor Banach stated the police and fire are always the first areas that get cut because that is the easiest to cut. And that is exactly what we cut this year. Supervisor Banach continued by stating the Westfall and Mill Rift Fire Departments are doing an excellent job, it is just that their departments were the easiest to cut.

Allen Johns, representing Have a Hoot Family Fun Center addressed Supervisor Banach and said he was out West hunting and that $.50 tax that was brought up at the last meeting is voluntary. Supervisor Banach said in Colorado and Texas he had to pay it and there was no way around it. Mr. Johns continued by stating it is an optional fee and questioned who are the transient people that the supervisors speak of, is that Milford and Port Jervis or is that just 50 miles away. Chairman Ewbank answered that is people that do not live in the Township that use our facilities and roads. Mr. Johns said he did not get notified of the October 17th meeting. Chairman Ewbank said that was at special meeting that was set for the purpose of meeting with the business owners which was agreed to at the October 2, 2012 meeting. Discussion followed. The business owners did not recall setting that date, however the Township recorded it in their meeting minutes. Supervisor Flansburg said we have a letter from the Attorney representing the canoe liveries stating that they would not be there. Mr. Jones said that was news to him.

Mr. Johns said the last time he heard from the Township was when his electrical permit fee got raised from $50-$302. Mrs. Green corrected Mr. Johns, stating that his fee did not get raised. The $50 was a review fee that’s paid at the time of application, and the $304 is the total permit fee. The Township did not raise the fee. Mr. John said in either case he did not know about the meeting. Supervisor Melvin said that Malibu Dude Ranch attended the meeting. Supervisor Flansburg said that it does not mean that the doors closed the Township is still willing to talk before we vote on the tax. Mr. Johns said he would rather pay the Township $1000 then pay a CPA $2000 to do the books. Chairman Ewbank said we still have to see if it is worth imposing the tax. Supervisor Flansburg said he wants to go on record as saying we are still open to conversation.

Mr. Jones said he believes that this tax is going to cost us more than we will earn and he also believes that they are exempt from this tax under two different exemptions. One is federal and one is from the tax itself. Stating his attorney said this is exempt but he really does not want to have to go to court over this. Mr. Jones said he just had a meeting with his accountants who told him he is losing money this year and will either have to increase his revenue or decrease his costs or he would not be around much longer. Mr. Jones continued by saying his business is not really worth anything for someone to buy because it is actually losing money, and he cannot afford a 1% tax on his business. Also having to come up with the gross income by the 10th of the month is nearly impossible. Mr. Jones said if Berkheimer were to audit him they would be there for days and he does not believe that they would charge the Township 3% to have an employee there for several days. Mr. Jones continued by saying this is a declining industry and he spent a lot of money trying to bring tourists to this area, stating that he is better off walking. Supervisor Flansburg asked Mr. Jones if he had seen the report from the Upper Delaware on the canoes that were put in the River last year stating it was shocking and grossly underreported. Mr. Jones did not see the report. Supervisor Banach said it is baffling because we were told to call the National Park Service to get our figures and we did that and it showed Kittatinny Canoes having just over 2000 canoes in the River last year. Mr. Jones said that report is not accurate. Discussion followed. Supervisor Banach said we were given a task to figure it out and we did that and this is what we received. Mr. Jones said in the whole upper Delaware there are less than 200,000 canoes being used which is why he built the zip line.

Chairman Ewbank said we have a letter here that the Pocono Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that they had a record income of $4,528,928 last year when at the meeting the representative made it sound like everyone was losing money. Mr. Jones said maybe because there’s a lot of growth in many areas. Chairman Ewbank said they get a 3% room tax from every hotel and motel in the Township and we want to know why some of that money can’t come back to us. Mr. Jones said that money goes to promote tourism not just here but in the Poconos. Mr. Jones said he appreciates the calls the police makes to his business but they also make a lot of money off of speeding tickets from their customers. Not that he is defending them because they shouldn’t be speeding, but that brings income back to the Police Department.

Mr. Johns said we’re looking at the River and the natural resources that Westfall has and it seems to be the direction that the Township is going that they think there is a pot of gold out there. Supervisor Flansburg said this is the first step that the Township is taking to offset the prices that our taxpayers are paying. Chairman Ewbank said we would like to not have to go to court and ask for one or two mill increase over the 14 Mills. Mr. Johns said he would sooner donate something to the Township rather than hire an accountant. Supervisor Flansburg said we are not asking for that, but we are open to suggestions.

Rick Lander said he did not know about the meeting either and apologized for not attending further stating that he was waiting for a phone call and a date. Mr. Lander questioned if the Boy Scout groups and the church groups pay the tax also stating it will cost more to administer than the tax will generate. Mr. Lander said he would rather work out an agreement where they pay a certain amount than to have the 1% tax.  Solicitor Bernathy suggested scheduling the meeting stating that the business owners seem to be making an offer in lieu of the imposition of the tax.

Supervisor Melvin said the board is not looking to get into the books of the business owners and this is not a punitive action. Vice-Chairman Fischer said we are looking to get this money off the shoulders of our property owners and spread out this tax. Otherwise either taxes are going up or the Earned Income Tax is going to be proposed.

Discussion followed about the amount of tax revenue that the amusement tax would generate and about the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River stating that the Township went to the wrong department to get their numbers. Supervisor Flansburg commented that the Township went where we were told to go.

Meeting was scheduled for 7:30 PM on Monday, November 19, 2012 to have discussions with the business owner regarding the amusement tax.

Mr. Barth questioned if this tax could be imposed solely on recreation that launch or stop in Westfall Township. Solicitor Bernathy answered that it is where the admission is charged.

Supervisor Banach questioned Scott Myer on the percentage of a two mill tax decrease. Mr. Myer said that would equal 6%.

Suparmanto questioned why those in the entertainment business are being affected by the tax. Commenting that these businesses bring people to the Township that spend money at other businesses such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Shoprite and the gas stations. Chairman Ewbank said that the Township does not get any money from these people such as the 3% room tax that we do not get a part of. Supervisor Melvin said that we are maxed out and we are trying to cut our budget and find ways to generate more revenue. Supervisor Banach that we’re looking at every avenue including the County to try to get a sales tax imposed, however we have not been able to do that yet. Supervisor Banach also commented on the duplication of services that we have such as the police at that school district. Discussion followed. Supervisor Melvin thanked Suparmanto for hosting all of the charitable events that they have.

Mr. Jones said people that come to support his business also spend money in other areas and the transient out-of-towners are not attending the schools. Mr. Jones also said a lot of the money he takes in he spends locally for electricians, body shops, tires, etc. saying that when they bring in one dollar to their business it translates to five dollars spent in the area. Supervisor Flansburg said you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution and the Supervisors would rather the business owners become part of the solution. Chairman Ewbank said we used to pave our roads every 10 years and we are so far behind that schedule now due to budget constraints, mentioning the possibility of imposing an Earned Income Tax in the future.

Beth Brelje said the supervisors on more than one occasion said this amusement tax is the first step that they are taking questioning if the supervisors are going to raise this one percent tax or do something else.

Discussion followed. Supervisor Melvin said we want to be partners with the business owners. Mr. Jones explained the things he does to give back to the community such as letting the fire department use his landing for rescues and the river cleanup that he does each year.

Supervisor Flansburg said he believes the business owners have it wrong because every chance he gets he asks people that come to the area if they were asked to pay $.50 for EMA and they drove here from New York City would they not come here because of the $.50 and every one of those people said they would agree to pay it.      The business owners suggested making it optional. Chairman Ewbank suggested closing public hearing at this point and getting on to the regular meetings since we have already scheduled a time to meet with the business owners.

Public hearing closed at 8:10 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa A. Green, Secretary