By Richard L. Gaw
By a vote of four to one, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors voted in favor of raising sewer rates for township citizens, beginning in July.
The vote, registered at the board's meeting on May 19 at the New Garden Township Building, will jump township sewer taxes by nine-and-a half-percent. Depending on rate categories, that percentage is a fluctuating number, but translated, the base sewer rate will increase from $80 per quarter/per residence to $88 per quarter/per residence. Because the township bills on a quarterly basis, July was chosen because it begins the next consumption quarter. Those voting in favor of the increase were Steve Allaband, Randy Geoque, Richard Ayotte and Chairperson Betty Gordon. Supervisor Pat Little did not vote in favor of the rate increase.
The reason for the increase is due to “the cost of doing business,” said interim township manager Spence Andress. “The sewer rates were increased roughly five years ago. Periodically, the rates need to be adjusted to account for inflation and increases in other services like electricity.”
In other township news, former supervisor Bob Norris shared the results of his collaboration with New Garden Township Police Chief Gerald Simpson that explores the concept of creating a permanent police station in the township. During their one-hour presentation to the supervisors, Norris and Simpson stressed the need for the police department to be housed in a facility that is at least 8,000 square feet in size and fulfill the requirements of a modern-day police unit, such as a public area, , a police operations area and a hard area, used for holding cells, processing areas and a sally port. The department is currently housed in a temporary set of trailers on Gap-Newport Pike.
Norris and Simpson then presented three options for the new facility: to construct an entirely new facility at its current location; renovate an existing building, such as the New Garden Kindergarten Center on Starr Road; or retro-fit the police department in the New Garden Township Building, which will require additional construction to meet the square-footage needs of the department.
Using key milestones that are required for creating a new facility as a guidepost, Norris and Simpson used this coming September as a starting point, when they assume a decision by the supervisors will be reached. Factoring in a needs assessment study, budget guidelines, architectural plans and recommendations, the approval of plans and permits, bidding, and the actual construction of the facility itself, Norris and Simpson estimated that the department could be able to move into their new facility between May 2017 and February 2019.
Financing for the project, Norris said, could come from any one or all of the following sources: reallocation of current township revenues; donations; grants; a loan or bond paid back with tax revenue; an increase in real estate taxes; or from instituting a local services tax.
The supervisors approved the beginning stages of the construction of a firing range, which is planned to be located on the edge of the New Garden Air Field and scheduled to be used not only by New Garden Township police officers but other local police units, whom Simpson said have all committed to the use and maintenance of the range.
Simpson said that 777 cubic feet of soil will be needed in order to meet the safety requirements of building a firing range berm, and will require two people over the course of two days to build the range. He estimated that the cost of the range will be $250, and will include the need for additional lumber and hardware.
Simpson also shared the early results of a 30-question, web-based police survey, which is currently available on both the police department's website and the New Garden Township website. First made public on May 9, Simpson said the survey has yielded 118 responses, and will continue to be available for another few weeks.