Kennett Square Borough Council authorizes grant agreement for library study
● By Steven Hoffman
The Kennett Area Region Library Task Force is in the early stages of conducting a study that will analyze the community's needs, wants, and vision for a new, regional library. The Kennett Library is partnering with municipalities in the area—including Kennett Township, Kennett Square Borough, East Marlborough, West Marlborough, New Garden, Newlin, Pocopson, and Pennsbury—on the study. At its Aug. 1 meeting, Kennett Square Borough Council unanimously approved the Vision Partnership Grant agreement that will be used for library planning.
The study, which is expected to get underway sometime in September and completed by February of 2017, will include gathering information from local stakeholders and looking at broader library trends to determine how the library can expand its delivery of of services to all local citizens. Most recently, Kennett Square Borough officials announced that they were working with the library to find a location in the borough where a new library could be built with a new borough administration building in a community and cultural center.
Also at the Aug. 1 meeting, Mary Hutchins, the executive director of Historic Kennett Square, updated borough council about a new holiday event that is being planned. Hutchins explained that Historic Kennett Square was approached by officials in Kennett Township who had an interest in starting a Holiday Village that would feature vendors selling crafts and holiday gift items. Hutchins explained that the event would be a collaboration between Historic Kennett Square, Kennett Square Borough, Kennett Township, and The Creamery, which would be hosting the Holiday Village. The event would start small—it will take place over just one weekend, most likely the first weekend in December.
Hutchins reported to council that the final draft of the economic development study will be coming within a few weeks. A public meeting will be scheduled for early September to review some of the findings of the study.
In his finance committee report, council member Geoff Bosley said that the borough is seeing revenues trend slightly higher than projected for 2016. The borough's expenditures are slightly less than estimated, so overall Kennett Square is right on target with its budget.
Council member Wayne Braffman, who serves on the borough's ad hoc committee for public relations, outlined some of the work that has been completed by the committee so far. An advisory council on Latino affairs has been established, and that group will soon meet for the first time. The borough is posting more information on its website, including details about items that are on the agendas for public meetings. Quarterly financial reports are also being posted online for residents to review.
“We're doing our best to get as much information out as possible before the meetings,” Braffman said, explaining that they want to receive as much feedback as possible from residents.
The HARB applications were approved for 120 Meredith Street and 112 South Union Street. At 120 Meredith Street, the application was for demolition of a dilapidated garage and to install fencing, and at 112 South Union Street, the application was for signage. The HARB Commission recommended approving both, and council did.
Borough council discussed a resolution that would lend the borough's support to attempts to get the Sterling Act, a state law, repealed. The Sterling Act, which has been on the books for more than 80 years, allows Philadelphia and other First Class Cities in Pennsylvania to impose and keep the earned-income taxes that assessed to people who work in the city but live elsewhere.
Borough manager Joseph Scalise said that the Chester County Association of Township Officials contacted Kennett Square, and other municipalities, and urged the elected officials to formally support the resolution.
“Approving the resolution only shows our support of it,” Scalise said, explaining that municipalities in all the counties surrounding Philadelphia are being encouraged to advocate for the repeal.
For the most recent year that figures were available, Chester County's municipalities and school districts saw about $5 million stay in Philadelphia instead of the taxes being sent to the municipalities where the residents live.
Kennett Square lost about $12,000, and the school district lost much more than that, Scalise said.
Borough council could not reach a consensus on the issue. Some, like council member Ethan Cramer, did not want to hurt the City of Philadelphia, which is already cash-strapped, and holds a unique place in the region. He also pointed out that if Philadelphia were to lose the funding from the wage taxes, the government's response would likely be to increase the tax to make up for lost revenues.
Council member LaToya Myers works in Philadelphia so she's one of the few people who would be directly affected if the Sterling Act were repealed. She echoed some of Cramer's concerns about supporting the resolution. Ultimately, council voted 4-3 against the resolution.