Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Manager Leaving, No Tax Hike, Building Costs Loom

Upper Pottsgrove Township Manager Carol Lewis
There was a lot going on at last night's Upper Pottsgrove Commissioners meeting dear reader, so try to keep up.

First and foremost, the resignation of Township Manager Carol Lewis, after more than four years at the helm, was announced and accepted by the board.

Lewis has taken a job as the manager of Valley Township in Chester County and her last day will be Dec. 7.

Commissioner Elwood Taylor said over her four-plus years with the township, Lewis had saved between $600,000 and $700,000 by taking over finance responsibilities, health insurance savings and obtaining grants.

In her place, Police Chief Fran Wheatley was named as acting township manager.

But one gets the sense that appointment will be more of a decision-making post than doing most of the the actual work given that the board also appointed Zoning and Planning Administrator Michelle Reddick as "finance and administration lead," according to the agenda from last night's meeting.

Asked what her job definition is, Commissioners Chairman Trace Slinkerd said it had not been defined yet.

Also undefined is any change (increase) in pay for either Wheatley or Reddick to compensate them for their additional duties.

Reddick did receive a bump in pay earlier this year, when she was appointed board secretary and made responsible for the minutes.

Slinkerd said no procedure for replacing Lewis has been determined yet and Commissioner Martin Schreiber's motion to advertise for a new township manager died without a second.

I predict we can look to see Reddick appointed manager sometime in early 2019, after she has proven she can do the job.

OK, next up? The budget.

No Tax Hike

The board voted unanimously last night to advertise a $3.4 million budget which keeps the tax rate at 4 mills, but draws more than $200,000 from this year's surplus to balance revenues with expenses.

A portion of that millage, .6 mills, goes to the fire fund, which shows a positive balance in 2019 budget, some of which is being put toward a fund to buy a new fire truck, as well as maintenance on the company's aging fleet.

As solicitor Charles Garner Jr. explained to the board, by advertising the millage, it can be reduced in subsequent votes, but no increased.

The final budget adoption will not come until December.

Millions in Building Costs

The final item on tonight's account was the first on the agenda last night, the preliminary report by the Bethlehem engineering firm Alloy 5 on its assessment of the township's buildings.

The firm rated various issues in the firehouse/administration building on Farmington Avenue and the building shared by the police and public works departments on Heather Place.

At the firehouse/township building, the parking lot, roof, structural integrity, security, HVAC system, emergency power, sprinklers and plumbing fixtures are among those deemed most in need of repair or replacement.

Initial estimates for those repairs, and others deemed a lower priority, could cost as much as $990,000 over the next 10 years, said Randy Galiotto of Alloy 5.

At the Heather Place building, things like a secure vestibule for police and the as-yet-to-be-funded new salt shed (although there is $76,000 in the 2019 budget draft to pay for this), the bill over the next 10 years adds up to more than $600,000.

The cost of building new, and replacing the current 13,800 square feet of space with 20,000 square feet, would be close to $2.4 million, according to the study.

Detailed questions on the study are set to be discussed at the board's next workshop in Dec. 3.

 And now, without further ado, here are the Tweets from the meetingP:

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