East Nottingham Township supervisors look to lower open-space tax
● By ACL
By Steven Hoffman
The East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors is looking to lower the open-space tax that residents pay from one-half of one percent to .125 percent.
Supervisor Scott Blum said at the Sept. 17 board of supervisors meeting that the tax can be lowered because the township has made progress in paying off the debt from previous open-space transactions. If the tax rate remained at one-half of one percent for the next year, the township would take in more than its current balance. Lowering the rate to .125 percent would generate enough revenue to cover the debt service payments for the year.
Blum said that he wants the tax to be lowered in time to take effect for 2014. The township will have to advertise the change in the tax rate and then officially approve it.
Once the existing debt is paid off, Blum said, a referendum should be held to determine if residents want to continue paying the open-space tax.
“That’s not for the board to decide. That’s for the residents to decide,” Blum said.
The East Nottingham Township supervisors doubled back on an action that they had taken at the Aug. 13 meeting. Supervisor Scott Blum said that he wanted the board to again approve a feasibility study for the Wyndham Creek community that will look at options to resolve the long-running sewage and water system issues. The board approved the feasibility study on Aug. 13, but the issue had not been included on the agenda at the start of the meeting. Some residents had complained that approving the feasibility study without having it on the agenda constituted a violation of the Sunshine Law.
Blum noted that the DEP had asked the township to do a feasibility study, which should cost no more than $2,500.
“It is something that we’re required to do. It’s the next step in the process. I want to make sure we do it right,” Blum said.
John Coldiron, the chairman of the board of supervisors, said that he didn’t agree that the supervisors needed to approve the feasibility study again. He noted that residents were invited to share comments before the vote was taken. Despite his objection that the matter was in front of the board again, Coldiron joined the other four supervisors in unanimously voting to authorize the feasibility study.
Kristin Gent, the community coordinator in Oxford for Kacie’s Cause, a group that is working to spread awareness about the dangers of heroin abuse, returned to the township to encourage the supervisors to pass a resolution similar to the one already approved by Oxford Borough Council. The resolution calls for state legislators to reduce the overdose rate in the state. Pennsylvania has one of the highest overdose rates in the country. The resolution would also support passage of a Good Samaritan Law that would grant people immunity if they called 911 to prevent an overdose death. In many cases now, people don’t call the police because they are concerned about being charged with a drug-related crime. Twelve states and the District of Columbia have already enacted Good Samaritan legislation. Gent said that she didn’t always favor the Good Samaritan Law, but she is now convinced that it is necessary.
“If a person’s life hangs in the balance,” she said, “that’s the most important thing—to save the life.”
The supervisors set Tuesday, Oct. 22 as the date for the meeting to discuss the budget.
The township is holding “fall dumpster days” on Oct. 11 and 12 for residents to be able to dispose of large items. There was a discussion about how to handle electronics because a new state law regulates how they can be disposed of. Blum said that he was in favor of having the township collect the electronics, even if it has to pay a fee to have them recycled, rather than to have people throw them out on the township’s roads.
“Dumpster Day is going to be completely free if you are a resident,” Blum said.