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Chester County Press

Editorial: Turning over every stone

04/17/2018 01:50PM ● By Richard Gaw
There is a flat certainty in the belief that there is not a person alive who gathers any joy from cracking open a tax statement and seeing that his or her taxes have increased, whether those numbers have crept up minimally or astronomically, as in the case of Kennett Township residents, who have seen their property taxes jacked up 470 percent – about a $700 increase – in order to help pay for a new emergency services fund.

For the last several editions of the Chester County Press, our Opinion page has been dominated by letters of opposition to the 1.9 mil increase in property taxes from Kennett Township residents this year, and the anger and frustration that dotted these letters was also reflected at the township's Board of Supervisors meeting on April 4, when several residents held the supervisors, the township manager and the police chief accountable in justifying the value of establishing this new fund, which will cost township taxpayers more than $1 million.

They were right to question the township's spending practices which, in addition to the emergency services fund, also included taking on millions of dollars of debt in the $3.25 million purchase of a 103-acre property in the township.

They were right to not let up, and they didn't, for nearly the entire length of the four-and-a-half-hour-long meeting, and in support of these residents, we believe that the township really stuck it to the people they were elected to serve, and they did so in an effort to carry out the most important guiding principle of its mission, which is to turn over every stone in an effort to better assure the safety of all residents of Kennett Township.

The township's decision to create an emergency services fund solidifies a true commitment to the efforts of its its police department, and its inclusion in the Emergency Services Commission. It helps pay for a full-time police force, which allows officers to better respond to emergency calls within minutes, no matter the time of day. It allows township residents to receive more prompt and better-equipped fire and ambulance service.

It will also potentially save lives. During the April 4 meeting, township Corporal Jeffrey Call was honored for his work in helping to save the life of a 29-year-old woman, the day before. On April 3 at 4:27 a.m., Corporal Call responded to a 911 report of a woman suffering from an opiate-related overdose. Immediately, he administered Naloxone to the woman, which reversed the deadly effects of the overdose, and saved the woman's life. Call responded to the incident in five minutes.

While we believe that it is the right of every Kennett Township resident to question where every dollar is being spent in the township, we also believe it is fair to ask them to imagine living in a municipality that chooses not to protect its citizens, in order that they save taxpayers some money.

We ask them to imagine the early-morning of April 3, and think about what would have happened to the young woman during those pre-dawn hours if the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors had not seen to creating an emergency services fund, which helps provide its police department with full-time coverage.

Finally, we ask them to imagine such an emergency happening right in front of them, to one of their own family, and then waiting for help to arrive from a resource that doesn't work at that hour.

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