NEWS BRIEFS

Stay up to date on current News & Issues.

General News
Wolf’s state police fee plan a fraction of local police cost

Bucks County
Bristol Borough wins Small Business Revolution grand prize

Chester County
East Coventry Voters may decide alcohol ballot question

Delaware County
Aston gives OK for new apartment zoning

Montgomery County
Royersford proposes anti-discrimination ordinance

Philadelphia County
Rental surplus projected for city

 



 



 

News Briefs

 

General News

Wolf’s state police fee plan a fraction of local police cost
The $25 per-resident fee that Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed for municipalities that receive full-time state police coverage is a fraction of what other townships and boroughs pay for their local police departments, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. The analysis states that approximately 950 municipalities reported spending more than $2 billion on their local police departments in 2014, for an average of about $230 per resident. The proposed fee would raise $63 million for a state police budget that is projected to approach $1.3 billion in the fiscal year starting July 1. The state currently has no eligibility rules for municipalities that receive state police coverage, and the issue has been a sore spot for at least two decades, since Gov. Tom Ridge sought to extract reimbursements from the largest municipalities benefiting from the service. Wolf and state legislators are now under intense pressure to reverse the increasing flow of highway construction funds into the state police budget, especially since lawmakers approved a $2 billion-a year increase in motorist fees and taxes to improve Pennsylvania’s transportation system. Approximately half of the Commonwealth’s 2,560 municipalities currently rely solely on state police coverage.
Source: Daily Local; 2/17/2017

CFPB Petition for Rehearing PHH Case Granted
On February 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) petition for rehearing by the full bench of the D.C. Circuit, vacating the three-judge panel decision issued on October 11, 2016, in the case of CFPB v. PHH Corporation. In October, the three-judge panel vacated a $109 million penalty imposed by the CFPB against PHH for allegedly violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by paying for referrals where there is a federally related mortgage. The court also held that the unilateral authority of the CFPB vested in a single person – the Director of the CFPB – was unconstitutional because the Director could be dismissed only “for cause,” and not at the discretion of the President. The court’s granting of the petition for a rehearing wholly vacates the panel’s decision, including the conclusion that PHH did not violate Section 8(c)(2) of RESPA, allowing for the possibility that the full panel of ten judges will reconsider this issue. Oral argument is scheduled for May 24, 2017, and a decision may not be released until 2018, which could be subject to further appeals.
Source: nar.realtor; 2/17/2017

Bucks County

Bristol Borough wins Small Business Revolution grand prize
Bristol Borough is the grand prize winner in a small business contest that started out with 14,000 entries. Bristol was selected from five finalists for the “Small Business Revolution on Main Street” award. The prize: $500,000 in marketing services and a Small Business Revolution video series about the town with help from Robert Herjavec of the TV show "Shark Tank." Amanda Brinkman, brand officer for contest sponsor Deluxe, said that businesses in Bristol have until the end of Monday to apply to be in the videos that will be made about the town as part of the contest. Directions for the application process can be found on www.smallbusinessrevolution.org. Brinkman said the town will now become "an inspiration for all the small towns across the country."
Source: Bucks County Courier Times; 2/23/2017

Hearing set for large East Rockhill business park
East Rockhill Township officials said representatives for Pennridge Development Enterprises are scheduled to appear before the township’s planning commission on March 2. The hearing will focus on stormwater management facilities for the planned Pennridge Airport Business Park – a large-scale plan that could bring over a half a million square feet of new industrial/commercial development to the township and neighboring Perkasie. According to a preliminary sketch plan, the East Rockhill portion would host stormwater facilities and four manufacturing buildings varying in size from 100,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet for a total of 490,000 square feet. Proposed for Perkasie are two manufacturing buildings totaling 200,000 square feet in addition to a possible brew pub and hotel/conference center. Although the developer intends to pursue the Perkasie portion of the business park development first, that development would need the drainage infrastructure that is proposed for East Rockhill necessitating the hearing before the township planning commission. Visit http://www.eastrockhilltownship.org/ for up to date meeting information.
Source: The Intelligencer; 2/22/2017

Quakertown schools look to cut $10M from budget
The Quakertown Community School Board has committed to limiting any tax increase to the 2.9 percent Act 1 index for the 2017-18 school year. In order to stay within the index, the district finance committee has asked Superintendent William Harner to cut $10 million from next year’s proposed budget. To help explain some of the factors driving current budget projections, Harner put together a list of "pressure points" that total $8.15 million. The most significant spikes are in retirement costs, existing and new debt service, Bucks County Intermediate Unit services, contracted salary increases, books, and mandated positions to aid students with disabilities. During the meeting Harner was directed to bring spending down through what one school board member called "extreme austerity."
The Intelligencer; 2/20/2017

New Hope accepts resignation
New Hope Borough Council unanimously accepted the resignation of former council President Bill Scandone on Feb. 21. Scandone cited family responsibilities as his reason for leaving the position he held for seven years. Council members approved a motion to accept applications from borough residents interested in filling the vacant seat. The board will interview candidates at the council’s next work session on March 6, and a vote to appoint the new board member could be held at a meeting scheduled for March 21. Applications for the open council position must be submitted by March 3 – click here for more information.
Source: The Intelligencer; 2/22/2017

Bucks and Montgomery county water contamination resources
Over the past two years, 16 public wells and approximately 140 private wells have been shut down due to contamination from perfluorooctanioc acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate in Bucks and Montgomery counties. The former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, along with the active Horsham Air Guard Station, are thought to be the source of the contamination. The Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer have been reporting on the issue, and as a public resource, have made all of the reporting about the water contamination issue available to subscribers and non-subscribers on their websites - http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/horsham-pfos/ and http://www.theintell.com/news/horsham-pfos/. Maps of the contaminated areas have been added to the resources listed above. REALTORS are encouraged to reach out to specific municipalities for more information regarding water safety in areas where they may be doing business.

Chester County 

East Coventry Voters may decide alcohol ballot question
Registered voters in East Coventry Township may be asked to vote on whether to allow beer and liquor sales in the township if enough petition signatures are gathered to place the questions on the upcoming primary election ballot. A state law requires the signatures of 25 percent of those who voted in the past year’s election to include the questions on the May 16 ballot. Given the high voter turnout in last year’s presidential election, the number of signatures that must be gathered in the township is 871. Since Prohibition was lifted in 1933, East Coventry has been a dry town, voting in the same year to outlaw liquor sales, and beer sales one year later. Chester County currently has 23 municipalities that ban the sale of alcohol.
Source: Daily Local; 2/17/2017

West Pottsgrove Township won’t oppose pot farm
A proposal to construct a 100,000-square-foot indoor medical marijuana growing facility on the site of the former Stanley G. Flagg Brass plant in Stowe will not be opposed by West Pottsgrove Township commissioners. The commissioners have agreed to sign a letter to that effect. The letter was requested by Keith A. Morgan of Haverford, a partner in Holistic Farms, who said the letter will help the company aquire one of the two state licenses that will be issued in southeast Pennsylvania. If the license is obtained, the company would still have to go through the usual land development process to ultimately gain township permission to build.  Police Chief Matthew Stofflet said the security requirements for medical marijuana growing facilities are extreme. If constructed, the Holistic Farms facility could ultimately be home to as many as 150 jobs, according to information Morgan provided to the township commissioners. Pennsylvania, which became the 28th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes last April, will issue only 12 permits statewide.
Source: Daily Local; 2/18/2017

Kennett School district plans tax hike
A new preliminary budget for the Kennett Consolidated School District includes a proposed tax hike that would cost the average household approximately $148 a year. Board member and Treasurer Michael H. Finnegan said the currently proposed tax increase was made necessary mostly due to retirement fund contributions and payments for students who attend charter schools. If the tax increase makes it through to the final budget, the property tax millage rate would rise to 30.0540, a 2.79 percent increase.
Source: Daily Local; 2/19/2017

UCFSD School board approves prelim budget
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD) has approved a preliminary budget that would increase the property tax millage for the 2017-2018 academic year. The budget, which may change between now and the adoption of a final budget in June, anticipates spending and revenue at $85.6 million. Currently proposed revenue includes $8,609 from the unreserved fund balance; $158,000 from the federal government; $13.8 million from the state; and $71.6 million from local real estate taxes. Under the preliminary budget in Chester County, the millage rate would increase from 27.69 to 28.68 mills. The millage rate in Delaware County (Chadds Ford Township) would increase from 23.56 to 23.85 mills. A mill is tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. The difference in rates is based on different assessments in the two counties.
Source: Chadds Ford Live; 2/14/2017

Malvern officially named a Classic Town
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) recently announced that Malvern Borough is the newest member of its Classic Towns of Greater Philadelphia program. “We are thrilled Malvern has joined the Classic Towns program and will be associated with a group of the best communities in our region,” said Michelle Kichline, Chair of the Chester County Commissioners and a DVRPC Board Member. “The Classic Towns program will help us spread the word to potential residents and business owners about all the benefits of locating here – including our charming Victorian homes, restaurants and shops, community parks, and transit station.” You can see Malvern's classic town webpage online here.
Source: Malvern Patch; 2/15/2017

Delaware County

Aston gives OK for new apartment zoning
Aston Commissioners have adopted an ordinance amending the township zoning map to rezone a 10.4 acre parcel of property located at 104-106 Pennell, from townhouse to apartment district. Local builder Joseph Grace requested the change to construct luxury apartment condominiums on the parcel. The development will meet all height and parking requirements of the township, and there were no zoning variances requested. Grace said the three-story buildings will feature metal roofs with a brick facade that will be “architecturally appealing.” The estimated sale price of the condominiums will range from $200,000 to $240,000.
Source: Daily Times; 2/21/2017

UCFSD School board approves prelim budget
The Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD) has approved a preliminary budget that would increase the property tax millage for the 2017-2018 academic year. The budget, which may change between now and the adoption of a final budget in June, anticipates spending and revenue at $85.6 million. Currently proposed revenue includes $8,609 from the unreserved fund balance; $158,000 from the federal government; $13.8 million from the state; and $71.6 million from local real estate taxes. Under the preliminary budget in Chester County, the millage rate would increase from 27.69 to 28.68 mills. The millage rate in Delaware County (Chadds Ford Township) would increase from 23.56 to 23.85 mills. A mill is tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. The difference in rates is based on different assessments in the two counties.
Source: Chadds Ford Live; 2/14/2017

Media dam project discussed at public meeting
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hosted a public meeting in Media to discuss the partial breach project of the Broomall Lake Dam located on Third Street in the borough. The high hazard dam is in a state of disrepair and its current condition is considered unsafe. Upon completion of the partial breach, the potential threat to downstream residents will be reduced significantly. The project is scheduled to begin with turtle relocation on or around April 15, 2017 and proceed for two weeks, at which point construction will begin with a 60-day timeframe for completion.

Haverford Township offering free shade trees to property owners
Haverford Township Tree Tenders is partnering with the township to provide residents with free shade trees. The all-volunteer tree planting group is offering 50 free trees to residents who will plant the largest sized shade trees (50 feet or taller at maturity) in their front yards. Trees are subject to availability and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis – usually one per address. Interested residents must fill out and return a request form with a signed waiver by April 1. Contact Tree Tender Jeanne Angell at angellsrus@comcast.net if you would like descriptions of these trees and/or need help with selection. Trees must be planted on the lawn side of the sidewalk unless your planting strip is 48 inches or wider and may not be planted directly under wires. Completed request forms should be returned to Jeanne Angell, Haverford Township Tree Tenders, 25 Tenby Road, Havertown, PA 19083 by April 1.
Source: Haverford Patch; 2/16/2017

Montgomery County

Royersford proposes anti-discrimination ordinance
Royersford Borough has proposed an anti-discrimination ordinance that would afford protections to LGBTQ and minority communities. The proposal was introduced by Borough Council Vice President Matt Stehman during a Jan. 31 council meeting. Stehman said, “As Royersford continues to grow and to modernize, it’s important for all who would do business in or with the borough to know that Royersford is an inclusive community, regardless of gender, disability, the color of your skin, or who you love.” The details of the ordinance have not been made public, but recent anti-discrimination ordinances passed in nearby municipalities provide housing and employment protections for the LGBTQ and minority communities, in addition to gender neutral bathroom options. Royersford council voted unanimously to present the ordinance to the public for a mandatory 30 day review period, and the measure will be presented for a final vote at the March 28 meeting. If approved, Royersford would be the 39th municipality in Pennsylvania to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Source: Limerick Patch; 2/15/2017

Norristown Area School Board approves preliminary budget
The Norristown Area School Board has approved a preliminary budget of $150.15 million, funded in part by a proposed 6.71 percent tax increase, for the 2017-18 school year. District CFO Anne Rohricht said the proposed tax hike would likely decrease before the board adopts a final budget in June. The budget includes a $4.3 million deficit. Potential cost-cutting moves discussed at the meeting included: staff reorganization; health care options; and exploring the sale of delinquent tax receivables. The school directors also debated the merits of continuing the practice of holding a series of public meetings at various locations around the district to present and explain the budget to community members. All board members agreed on the necessity of transparency, but consensus formed around exploring alternative ways to inform the public in light of sparsely attended forums in the past and their drain on time and resources. Complete budget details can be viewed at www.nasd.k12.pa.us.
Source: Times Herald; 2/21/2017

Hatfield Township plans public meeting to discuss Clemens Park Development Plan
Hatfield Township has announced a public meeting schedule for the Clemens Park Master Development Plan. For the first meeting, residents and business owners are invited to bring ideas to help the township brainstorm. The meeting will be held on March 1, 2017 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Hatfield Township Municipal Building, 1950 School Road, Hatfield, PA 19440. Click here for more information and future meeting dates.
Source: Hatfield Township; 2/22/2017

Bucks and Montgomery county water contamination resources
Over the past two years, 16 public wells and approximately 140 private wells have been shut down due to contamination from perfluorooctanioc acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate in Bucks and Montgomery counties. The former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, along with the active Horsham Air Guard Station, are thought to be the source of the contamination. The Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer have been reporting on the issue, and as a public resource, have made all of the reporting about the water contamination issue available to subscribers and non-subscribers on their websites - http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/horsham-pfos/ and http://www.theintell.com/news/horsham-pfos/. Maps of the contaminated areas have been added to the resources listed above. REALTORS are encouraged to reach out to specific municipalities for more information regarding water safety in areas where they may be doing business

 

Philadelphia

Rental surplus projected for city
Rental apartment projects in and around Center City have surged and will likely result in a surplus, according to a recently released study by Center City District, a business-improvement group. The surplus could lift vacancies and cause rents in the area to moderate. While central Philadelphia’s career opportunities, cultural offerings, and other assets have been drawing new residents, that part of the city faces problems that could keep population growth from keeping pace with new apartment supply, says the report. “Philadelphia’s slow job growth and the uncertainties surrounding public school funding tend to limit our ability to maximize [the city’s] competitive strengths,” the authors wrote. Click here for the full report.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 2/17/2017

Soda tax revenue higher than projected in January
The city received $5.7 million in soda tax revenue during the first month of collecting the new Philadelphia Beverage Tax, more than double what the revenue department had predicted, city officials said Thursday. The city had projected bringing in $2.3 million in January. The 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax is levied on distributors, 380 of which have registered with the city to pay the tax. The early revenue numbers, which are preliminary and could rise, are good news for the programs to be funded by the new tax, said Marc Stier, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget Policy Center. The tax, currently under appeal in Commonwealth Court, funds pre-K and community school programs.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 2/23/2017


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