Kennett Square Borough approves waiver for park authority
● By Steven Hoffman
Kennett Square Borough Council agreed to waive the tapping fees that could have been charged to the Kennett Area Park Authority for connecting to the public wastewater treatment system at the meeting on May 7.
Kennett Area Park Authority, which oversees the Anson B. Nixon Park, was seeking to have the tapping fees waived to connect to the public wastewater treatment system as a way to save some on the overall costs of connecting to the public system.
Council member Wayne Braffman, who serves on the borough’s Finance Committee, said that the tapping fees are estimated at $2,500.
“It's no expense to the borough, but it would be lost income,” Braffman explained to council.
It was the Finance Committee's recommendation to approve the waiver. The borough doesn't have a parks department, and the expenses that come with it, because of the work of the Kennett Area Park Authority.
Borough officials emphasized that the waiver was only being considered because the Kennett Area Park Authority is essentially a department of the borough. They do not want to set a precedent for issuing waivers, and did not think they were setting one with this decision.
The waiver issue was just one item on borough council’s agenda that evening.
Portabello's Restaurant in Kennett Square is planning to move to a new, larger space on State Street, and council took two actions at the meeting related to the possible move. First, borough council unanimously approved parking relief for two buildings at 108 East State Street and 110 East State Street. LGB Properties plans to convert those two spaces—which were previously home to a pizza shop and a small dance studio—into the new, larger home for Portabello's. There would have been a requirement to account for seven parking spaces under the borough's guidelines had the relief not been granted.
Next, borough council approved authorizing the advertisement of a public hearing to consider a transfer of a liquor license. Chef Brett's, LLC is looking to transfer a liquor license to the new Portabello's from outside the borough. The state requires a municipality to sign off on such liquor license transfers. The public hearing will take place at the Monday, May 21 council meeting.
In his Finance Committee report, Braffman said that the committee recently had a discussion about the 2019 budget. Although it's very early in the budgeting process, Braffman said, they wanted to start focusing on goals that the borough would like to achieve with the 2019 spending plan.
“We wanted to start thinking about what it is that we want as a council,” Braffman said. “It's a discussion for all of us to have.”
Braffman said that one goal is to develop a budget that won't require a tax increase. Kennett Square may also look to reduce water rates, if possible. There is also a question about the borough's various reserve fund balances. While some of the reserve funds already have sufficient balances, the general fund currently is slightly less than what the borough would like. Braffman raised the question of whether the borough council might want to have a goal of allocating some money in the 2019 budget to boost the general fund reserve.
Braffman said that when the Finance Committee is having its discussions, they aren't just thinking about 2019, but a few years beyond that as well. The next few years are critical, Braffman said, because by 2023 Kennett Square will be retiring a significant amount of debt, which should alleviate some pressure on the annual budget.
Braffman suggested that borough council have a public discussion about some of the goals of the 2019 spending plan at an upcoming council meeting so that borough officials can keep the goals in mind as the spending plan is developed.
After some discussion, borough council approved a resolution pertaining to parliamentary authority as a rule of council. The goal of parliamentary authority is to provide a structure for meetings. Kennett Square Borough Council utilizes the Robert's Rules of Order, which is the most widely used manual of parliamentary procedure in the U.S. Several council members expressed concerns about inadvertently becoming more restrictive with the parliamentary authority—they did not want to have discussions or exchanges between council members to be overly restricted, nor did they want the structure of the meetings to become overly formal.
Several residents were critical of council for even addressing the parliamentary authority since following Robert's Rules of Order has always worked well.
Borough council approved a series of HARB applications that had previously been reviewed by the Historical Architectural Review Board. The applicants sought approval for signs, fences, and garage additions for the respective properties.
Borough council approved charging the Civil Service Commission with generating a certified list of qualified candidates to serve as a full-time police officer in the borough. Kennett Square may soon be looking to fill two full-time positions.
The meeting concluded with the recognition of a borough employee who may have helped save a life. Council member Peter Waterkotte explained that Troy Stevenson, who has worked in the Public Works Department for more than two decades, was on the job one day recently when he saw a two-year-old venturing near traffic without an adult nearby. Stevenson conscientiously kept the toddler safe from harm, and then went door-to-door until he found out where the child belonged. It turned out that the child wandered away from his grandmother's house without anyone knowing. Everyone was glad about the child's safe return, and borough officials were proud of Stevenson's actions.