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Chester County Press

New Garden to commit funds to new library once its wastewater sale is complete

11/18/2020 12:34PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

For the past several years, New Garden Township has been a good friend to the Kennett Library, beginning with the fact that among the many municipalities the library serves, the township’s residents constitute the largest number of its visitors.

The township and its residents further layered their commitment to the library in November of 2017, when by a vote of 1,014-651, a referendum was approved that created an annual dedicated tax of about $20 per household that was projected to generate an additional $80,000 in revenue to the library.
Yet, as they finalized the township’s 2020 budget, the township’s Board of Supervisors passed on two non-mandatory options that were presented to them in September, as part of Kennett Library's capital campaign, that if enacted by the township would raise about 4.8 percent of the $15 million needed to build the new library.

The options for New Garden were to institute a .3 mill real estate tax in the township for a period of three years, which would be added to the capital costs needed to fund the building of the library, at a rate of $58.98 a year per household; or make an annual contribution of $241,478 for the next three years to the library’s capital campaign which, at the end of those three years, would amount to $724,433.

While the other municipalities the library serves have made their contributions for the construction of the new Kennett Library and Resource Center, the township has continued to dangle the promise of its financial commitment to the new library, contingent upon the sale of its wastewater system to Essential Utilities, Inc. (previously Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater, Inc.) for $29.5 million.

Reaching the completion of the sale, however, has been an exercise in patience, not only for the township but for those who are responsible for raising the funds to construct the new multi-million-dollar library on State Street in Kennett Square.

In August of 2016, the township’s Sewer Authority and Aqua entered into an agreement to purchase the township’s sewage system, which was approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in June of 2017. Since then, the sale has been clogged in a glut of negotiations and legal snags that have involved the township, the PUC, the Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, the Commonwealth Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

At the board’s Nov. 16 online meeting, however, it came as very welcome news that the end date for the sale of the township’s wastewater system is, at last, very near.

Township Solicitor William Christman told the board that the PUC has placed the sale on its Nov. 19 agenda, which would reach finalization on Dec. 21, following a 30-day period that will allow objectors to the same to appeal to the PUC’s decision.

Board Chairman Patrick Little said that once the sale goes through, making an annual contribution of $241,478 for the next three years to the library’s capital campaign will be among the township’s top priorities. He said it will be one of several projects on the township’s “Get-To” list that will likely receive attention when the sale is finalized.

“There are certain things that we are going to look at from a long-term planning standpoint,” Little said. “At one time we had a pretty good list, but that was three years ago, so we need to sit down and redo that again and hire some consultants to look at the township and give us estimates on projects that we should correct or fix or build.”

Little said that before the township can reinvest in itself with the funds that will become available to them, it first needs to pay off various debts it has incurred in the past few years, such as the $1 million it borrowed from its capital fund to begin the construction of the new facility for the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department.

In other township news, the board agreed to increase the township’s capital contribution to the Avondale Fire Department by three percent in 2021, for a total contribution of $207,339. The board then approved a three percent increase in its 2021 capital contribution to the department’s EMS unit, in the amount of $119,000.

The township’s 2021 preliminary budget is expected to be adopted at the board’s Dec. 21 meeting. The board’s Dec. 7 budget meeting has been canceled.

The board accepted the resignations of Pete Scilla and Dan Furlano from the township’s Zoning Hearing Board.

The board also approved April 25, 2021 as the rescheduled date of the Boy Scouts of America’s next public BBQ festival, which will be held at the Township Building. The event will include live music, craft vendors and participation by local police and fire companies, and coordinated in conjunction with Chester County Board of Health and CDC guidelines.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].