Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of June 16, 2003 – approved 7/7/03

The second business meeting for June was held June 16, 2003, at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Hugh Willig, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Mike Rodgers, Kevin R. Kuhn, Thomas Oeste, Esq., Tom Comitta, Ed Theurkauf, Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator, Melanie M. Lammers, Recording Secretary, and those on the attached list were present.

The meeting was called to order at 7:34 P.M.


Mr. Willig announced that Mr. Hogan would not be present due to illness.

Mr. Willig also announced that two Executive Sessions were held. One was held on June 4, 2003 with the Township solicitor to discuss legal issues, and the other was held on June 5, 2003 with the Township’s insurance agent to discuss insurance options.

Citizen’s Forum - Non-Agenda Items

There were no Citizen’s Forum/Non-agenda items.

Special Presentation

Proposed Earned Income Tax

Attendees were given the following handouts: Criteria for Open Space Preservation Selection in Charlestown Township and Opportunity Knocks—Open Space is a Community Investment by Michael Frank, Director, Community Planning, for Heritage Conservatory.

Mr. Willig opened by stating the preservation of open space is a priority for the Board of Supervisors as well as many residents. He said the Board’s interest in preserving open space is two-fold. First, to capture the Charlestown Township that has kept residents there as long as it has and attracted new residents, and secondly, there is an emerging financial incentive associated with preserving open space. He said development can be proven to create a tax deficit, therefore, retaining as much open space as possible is a benefit.

Mr. Willig recapped what the current Board has done over the past few years to preserve open space, the most major of which was to borrow $2,100,000 in 2000 to purchase the Brightside Farm and fund other projects that may come up. The Open Space Commission was also formed specifically to identify and rate parcels, as well as to work with the residents and landowners of the Township to educate them on open space preservation.

Mr. Willig also stated that in order to continue to preserve open space, it is necessary to act quickly, because development pressures are mounting. He added that to preserve open space, revenue is required, and to raise revenue, the Board will need to come back to either real estate taxes or an earned income tax.

Mr. Willig said the purpose of the special meeting is to define, as well as discuss, the positives and negatives of an earned income tax. He asked that questions be held until after the presentations.

Mr. Kuhn outlined the agenda as follows:

Mr. Willig asked if there were any opening remarks prior to the start of the presentations, and Mrs. Ewald mentioned two concerns which she previously expressed in writing to the Township residents. Her first concern was with regard to the fairness of the tax, which she said needs to be examined. Her second concern, whether it was an earned income tax or a property tax, was on how it would be restricted or not restricted.

Slide Show Presentation - Thomas Comitta - Thomas Comitta Associates

Mr. Comitta began by stating there were exhibits displayed in the hallway that depict some of the development changes that have taken place in the region since 1970.

Mr. Comitta indicated the slides he was about to show were cross-sections of those that were reviewed a few years ago by the Planning Commission when working on the Comprehensive Plan update.

Mr. Comitta said the overall discussion will be focused on considering an Earned Income Tax as an initiative toward acquiring land for open space. He also said the issue that is underpinning the whole discussion is the sprawl that is taking place in the region. He added that the sprawl pattern in the immediate region manifests itself in single-family, detached homes that go on larger lots, smaller lot subdivisions, shopping centers, and highway improvements. Mr. Comitta referenced the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and their determination of how this pattern has risen from Philadelphia, and has now moved toward and into Charlestown. Their determination was that increased transportation networks are the cause. He said that to date Charlestown Township has been fortunate to avoid the pressures that a lot of its neighbors have already experienced. He said the following cycle occurs. First there is residential development. That residential area is then determined to be ‘under-stored’, thereby prompting the development of shopping centers, etc. to support the residents. The development of these stores, etc., requires increased transportation enhancements, and finally there is suburbia. This cycle is continuing to grow more toward Charlestown, and even those difficult to develop sites are being developed. Additionally, as residential development occurs, it becomes a place where businesses can locate to attract employees, and in doing so, expands the sprawl even further.

Mr. Comitta showed slides of what exists in Charlestown Township today. He showed how the Charlestown Oaks, Charlestown Hunt, Three Ponds, and Whitehorse developments have still taken away large sections of land in Charlestown, even though some have preserved space or are on larger lots. He said the cumulative effects of this development cause expansion in the infrastructure, such as schools, to support these residences, and the cycle continues. He added that some of the homes in the Township are twice the size of older homes, and showed slides of very large homes that consume large amounts of acreage.

Mr. Comitta recapped what the Township has accomplished with regard to open space in the last 30 years. The Township acquired the land in the Pickering Valley and the Pickering Preserve. He said future acquisition plans create a great springboard opportunity to connect this open space to other places. The Township also acquired the Brightside Farm and has protected that area as open space. He showed the Soldas’ farm and indicated they have recently made arrangements for a conservation easement, and that neighboring properties are also being looked at. He said the Township was very fortunate in 1976 to take ownership of approximately 44 acres, now known as Charlestown Township Park, which includes playfields, picnic shelters, a playground and trails. Also in 1976, Charlestown Village was listed as a National Historic District. The Township was also successful in creating an Agricultural Security Area which involved identifying prime agricultural soils to further preserve and protect farmland. The woodlands were also mapped and made one of the criterion for open space preservation selection. Additionally, the Development Constraints Map, under the Design Standards section of the Ordinance, would require developers to protect the landscape where possible. Finally, critical viewshed areas were identified.

Mr. Comitta said, while doing the Comprehensive Plan update, the tool of Transfer of Development Rights was included. This would allow parts of the rural heritage of the Township to stay green. The Township could transfer the development rights of these areas to places that are already developed. He added that the central part of the Township, the ‘Heartland’, is a very attractive target for open space preservation because it does not have the road infrastructure to spawn development.

In summary, Mr. Comitta said the Township is looking at opportunities to protect and acquire lands that are visually vulnerable, sensitive from an environmental standpoint, or are sensitive because they are prime farmlands or woodlands and part of the heart and backbone of the Township.

Funding Options - Kevin Kuhn - Supervisor and Open Space Commission

Mr. Kuhn gave an overview of some of the funding options the Open Space Commission and Board of Supervisors have discussed. He said the optimal situation for the Township is to have an individual landowner donate their property outright to the Township or donate an easement on it. When that happens, the property owner takes a charitable deduction, the Township gets the easement potentially at no cost, and the property is eased in perpetuity against further subdivisions. He said this has been done in the past, but is not an option for many landowners, since quite often, it is their largest asset.

Another funding option is through County and State grants. Charlestown Township has received a grant of approximately $450,000 from the County for the purchase of the Brightside Farm. He said the County funds are drying up. While the new candidate for Commissioner has pledged over $60,000,000 in open space funds, that is less than half of what was previously available. Charlestown also received $200,000 to purchase a conservation easement on the Valhalla (Solda) farm. Mr. Kuhn added, however, that the Township has applied for numerous other State and County grants, but to date, have been turned down for them. He said there is a perception by the County that Charlestown can afford not to get money from the County. He said, per the Township solicitor, the only other option to raise a substantial amount of revenue is through either an earned income tax or increased property taxes.

Mr. Kuhn indicated that Charlestown Township is one of a very few townships not already having an earned income tax, and that in 2002, Charlestown residents paid well in excess of $350,000 in payroll taxes to other townships. He said, if Charlestown were to adopt an earned income tax, that money would not cost those residents anything additional, but would come back to Charlestown Township. Additionally, Mr. Kuhn said that to raise the same amount of revenue via property taxes, the property tax would have to be raised from its current 1 mil, to 4 mils and would adversely affect those on a fixed income.

Mr. Kuhn said the biggest argument he has heard to date is that the Earned Income tax is not fair, because it only affects wage earners. He said an argument could be made that there are a lot of people paying property taxes and subsidizing school students’ education, while well beyond having school-aged children themselves.

Economics of Open Space Preservation - Michael Frank - Heritage Conservatory

Mr. Frank is a practicing planner with approximately 30 years’ experience. He said there are four primary issues. The first, and most important issue is timing. He said in Southeastern Pennsylvania, it is now or never. The pressures of development are coming quickly, and the land is not going to get any cheaper. The second issue is that if you spend one dollar to preserve something, you save more than one dollar in the long run. If you don’t preserve open space, it will end up costing residents more in the long run. The third issue is the real qualify of life in the Township, and the fourth issue is that landowners, without the advantages of open space options, must sell to developers in order to get something out of their properties. In preserving open space, landowners are given options other than just selling to a developer.

Mr. Frank said the local development in surrounding areas causes the loss of farmland and open space, the loss of natural areas, and traffic congestion, and he stated the cost of community services goes up when development goes up. Mr. Frank referenced some studies that expressed growth and sprawl to be the number one environmental problem in Pennsylvania. Mr. Frank said several other studies indicate the cost of residential development does not produce the revenues to take care of the needs of the development. He said farming and open space are the best deals for the community. He added that the cost of residential development to the school system is very significant.

Mr. Frank said, in some townships, developers are required to submit data on the fiscal impact of their development as part of any proposal. He referenced the Development Impact Assessment Handbook. This handbook is universally used by developers as a means of defining the fiscal impact of their development. He added that the numbers can be somewhat massaged, and therefore, are likely to be a little ‘sugar-coated’ by the development community.

One development he checked the numbers for contained 168 single-family homes, with an average target price of $305,000, on 157 acres. Based on the developer’s numbers, there would be an annual shortfall to the County government of about approximately $32,000. The annual deficit to the Township would be $65,000, and to the school district, an annual shortfall of $686,000.

A second development of 228 single-family homes and 34 townhouses on 256 acres showed a fiscal impact of an annual net loss to the Township of $14,000, and to the school district, an annual deficit of $816,000.

Mr. Frank referenced pages 6-12 of the Opportunity Knocks — Open Space is a Community Investment publication and highlighted the revenues generated by the many townships already having an earned income tax as well as the 70-90 percent approval rates.

In summary, Mr. Frank said it is important for the Township to decide what pieces of land would be protected and set aside for community use, rather than bits and pieces that might be left over in a residential development which residents may or may not have access to. He suggested having the money that is currently going out of the Township through payroll taxes come back into the Township via an earned income tax. He said new residents in the Township would then help pay for that land over time. He said he feels open space is an investment that pays for itself in the short-run, and maintenance costs are minimal or none at all. Additionally, this asset does not go away or get used up. He suggests that residents pay for conservation once, rather than continually paying for community services required from development.

Mr. Kuhn referenced some articles he read in the paper recently which stated that the Great Valley School District just approved their budget for $55,000,000, an 8.2% increase. They are a 3,600 student school district. He said he lived there in 1991, and the number in the school district at that time was 2,200. He indicated this is a big jump in just 10 years. Further in the article, it states that additional money would be used to pay for new positions, most of which address increased enrollments. In another article, the School District officials, knowing development will likely not stop anytime soon, in the late 1980’s began developing enrollment growth projections so they could plan for future needs. The grand total has been $68.7 million in construction and renovation projects in the last 10 years, and the end is nowhere in sight. District officials were quick to point out that the new wave of housing has not stopped, and the school’s construction planning cannot stop either. The article closed stating that every home that is built sends one student to school, and creates a shortfall of thousands of dollars between the taxes that would be paid on that new home and the cost of educating the child.

Mr. Kuhn introduced Aliena Gerhard, and said she is one of the many dedicated members of the Open Space Commission, and is very dedicated to preserving open space.

Open Space Commission Accomplishments to Date - Aliena Gerhard - Open Space Commission

Mrs. Gerhard opened by saying she and her husband moved here from Montgomery County in 2000 into a 300-year old farm house. She said they moved to this Township because it is so beautiful. Another reason they moved here is because she saw a lack of commitment in the local township where she lived with regard to the preservation of open space.

Regarding open space, Mrs. Gerhard said she is not able to see a better investment for your money. She said in every day life it comes back to you. Since she moved here, her commute to pick up her husband at the Exton train station has doubled, and an extra 15-20 minutes have been added to her work commute. She added that her school taxes have been raised and she does not even have children in the district.

Mrs. Gerhard recapped the ways the Open Space Commission has been working toward preserving open space. She said recently a Township Tour was given to allow residents to get a renewed appreciation for the Township’s beautiful open space. State Grants have also been sought, and the Township has acquired an $80,000 matching grant fund for the preservation of the Horseshoe trail, which can be enjoyed by those on foot or on horseback. She said there is a permanent easement program, through which the Valhalla farm was acquired. She added that residents can benefit from the trails on this farm. She said the Open Space Commission is currently in discussions with three landowners, hoping to obtain up to 115 acres. She noted the identities of homeowners going through this process are kept in the strictest of confidence, until such time as their negotiations are brought before the Board of Supervisors in a public meeting.

Mrs. Gerhard told everyone that the members of the Open Space Commission are also residents who love the Township fiercely. She encouraged residents to attend the Open Space Commission meetings held at 7:00 P.M. on the third Thursday of each month, to introduce themselves to her, and to ask questions.

Mr. Kuhn noted that the 115 acres Mrs. Gerhard spoke of may very possibly result from a charitable contribution.

Mechanics of the Earned Income Tax - James Hunt - Berkheimer Associates

Mr. Hunt is the Southeastern Regional District Manager for Berkheimer Associates. He said his firm currently administers earned income taxes and various other Act 511 taxes for 1100 municipalities and school districts throughout the state of Pennsylvania, which makes them one of the largest tax administrators in the state.

Mr. Hunt gave an overview of what the Earned Income Tax actually is. He said the State definition of Earned Income is payment for services rendered. It would include salaries, wages, tips, commissions, stock options, incentive payments, and for those who are self-employed, net profits. The types of things not taxed under a local earned income tax are pensions, social security, dividends, life insurance payments, interest, and long-term disability payments.

Mr. Hunt said a comment that always arises when discussing the Earned Income Tax is that it is not paid by everyone. He agreed that is true, and said there will always be individuals within any given township that will not be subject to an earned income tax, but will still be property owners. He did say, however, that an earned income tax is based on one’s ability to pay. If someone is earning a wage, the tax is based upon their earning potential.

Mr. Hunt said, he provided an earned income tax study based on ½% at the Township’s request in January of this year. He said that any municipality and school district in the state of Pennsylvania, under Act 511, which is the Local Tax Enabling Act, has the right to enact an earned income tax up to 1%. The Township asked that projections be based on ½%, with the understanding that if the Great Valley School District would ever put the earned income tax into place, they could not affect the monies being collected by the Township. They would only be able to take the other ½% allowed by law for themselves. The Township’s earned income tax monies would be dedicated to either the General Fund or the preservation of open space.

Mr. Hunt said his projections were based on the 2000 Census, and the information garnered from that was from the United States Government. In the year 2000, the Census stated there were 4,051 residents in Charlestown Township and the state average, and the average especially in this area, is that 40% of any municipality’s population will be subject to an earned income tax. He said, therefore, of the 4,051 residents, 1,620 would be taxable in one form or another. He said his projection also took into account that there are approximately 10% who work in the state of Delaware or the City of Philadelphia, whose tax revenue would not be taxable by the Township due to crediting provisions. In 2002, there were a total of 747 residents of Charlestown Township who paid $345,285.23 to municipalities that surround this area in earned income taxes to the areas in which they work, since the tax is not collected in Charlestown. Mr. Hunt explained that the way an earned income tax works is it always first comes back to the municipality or school district you live in if they have the tax, or secondly, to the municipality in which you work if your home municipality does not collect the tax. Therefore, 747 Charlestown Township residents are already paying an earned income tax to another municipality. Additionally, East Whiteland is one of the few municipalities in Chester County that does not use Berkheimer Associates as their tax administrator; therefore, these numbers do not even include Charlestown Township residents who work in East Whiteland Township.

Mr. Hunt said the Earned Income Tax is a valuable revenue source. His firm has estimated in the first full year of collection, Charlestown Township could expect approximately $700,000 per year in earned income tax revenue, not taking into consideration any monies garnered from non-residents working in the Township who do not have an earned income tax where they live.

Mr. Hunt explained that the Earned Income Tax implementation process, under Act 511, does not require the Township to put this issue out for public vote. It can be done at the Township’s discretion. Under Act 511, the only requirements are, as they have done this evening, bring it up in a public meeting, and vote on it as a Board that they wish to investigate the implementation of an earned income tax. Once they have a positive vote at a public meeting, they must advertise, for three consecutive weeks, that they intend to enact an earned income tax. That advertisement must state what tax revenues they will garner from the implementation of such tax, what they plan to use it for, and the date the ordinance is to be enacted. The Township could tailor their ordinance in order to dedicate it to open space, but has no requirement to do so. Once advertised for three consecutive weeks, there must be a public comment period. Then the Board, at that point, would vote whether they wish to implement the tax or not. Once implemented, there is a 30-day appeal process. If someone feels the enactment procedure was not properly followed, they have the right, with a petition carrying 10% of the Township population’s signatures to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas. It will then be reviewed for legality and a decision rendered as to whether the ordinance should stand or be rescinded. Mr. Hunt said, in the nine years he has been with Berkheimer Associates, there has only been one case, and that case was thrown out. He said the process is very clear, and if followed, the tax stands.

Mr. Hunt said the main issue that has been brought to his attention by the Board, is the concern residents have with regard to privacy of the information that would be garnered from the collection of this tax from an individuals’ income. Under Act 511 and Act 50, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights passed in 1999, the privacy of that information has been very tightly safeguarded. Whoever is appointed to collect the tax is required to safeguard any information from public knowledge. He said, under Act 50, if Berkheimer Associates would be hired, there would be only one individual within the Township who could receive any information regarding income on any resident of the Township. He added that, under Act 50, there are very strong penalties, including imprisonment and fines, for those not safeguarding this information. He said his firm will not give out information to anyone other than the individual taxpayer themselves, not even to their spouse.

Mr. Kuhn announced the conclusion of the presentations and opened the floor up for questions.

  1. Do we understand the Funding of Development Forces? – Irene Ewald, Supervisor

    i.e. Land Acquisition; Land Development

    (Retirement Funds; Pension Funds)

    Developers are funded partially through state teachers’ pension funds and state employees’ pension funds by obtaining funds for land acquisition.

    Mr. Frank responded that many of the larger developers like Toll Brothers and Heritage are totally self-financed.

  2. What is the justification for ½%? Other townships show an earned income tax for open space typically at ¼% and often are a combination of real estate and earned income taxes. – Mike Selmer, Lewisville Court

    Mr. Kuhn responded that the ½% rate was advised by the Township Solicitor. Up to 1% can be assessed for Earned Income Tax for general purposes, but the School District is entitled to take the balance not assessed by the Municipality. So, if Charlestown imposed a ¼% tax, Great Valley could take the other ¾% and lock out the township from ever getting more to ½%. Charlestown’s real estate millage just doubled this year because permit fees, real estate transfers and interim taxes are down. If anything, the Board would wish to reduce the millage back to the old level, which could be done if there was revenue from an earned income tax. The bond issue payments and restoration of the Baughman Mill could be taken from the Earned Income Tax funds, allowing the millage to be reduced.

    Mrs. Ewald followed up stating the one-half millage is the same tax that has been paid since 1983, and that the average taxpayer pays less than $200 per year to the Township.

    Mr. Willig said if enacted, the Earned Income Tax would be balanced with the real estate tax.

    Mr. Hunt said the examples Mr. Selmer gave of ¼% Earned Income Tax were a separate Earned Income Tax for open space only. These municipalities already have a 1% Earned Income Tax for general purposes.

  3. Can we clarify the School District’s ability to impose an Earned Income Tax? – Regina Fried, Hollow Road.

    Mr. Oeste responded that the maximum is 1%. If Charlestown enacts ½%, the School District can enact only ½%. They are entitled under the law to ½%.

  4. What do we see over a 3 to 5-year timeframe? – Steve Schlichter, Jamie Lane

    For: properties to acquire?

    : costs to acquire?

    Mr. Schlichter would like to see a sunset provision; otherwise the tax will most likely stay on the books.

    Mr. Kuhn responded that by going to referendum to make the Earned Income Tax only for open space, it can only be used for this purpose, and then a sunset provision would be feasible. Once we get to a specific set amount, the tax could be retired. The intention is not to build a “war chest” of funds to collect indefinitely.

  5. Has Open Space Commission identified properties (for acquisition)? – Steve Schlichter, Jamie Lane

    Aliena Gerhard, Open Space Commission, responded that they are looking at various possibilities. Mr. Kuhn added that there is no set list of properties. He added that when a property is preserved for open space, the surrounding property values generally skyrocket.

  6. Will an Earned Income Tax apply to small earnings? – Geoffrey Crowell, Charlestown Township.

    Mr. Hunt said they will only pay an Earned Income Tax if they are already filing federal and state returns. He added that the Board could consider an exemption amount, such as up to $10,000.

  7. Would $345,000+/- that is being paid to other Townships (by Charlestown residents) be paid to Charlestown in the future? – Charlie Philips, Hollow Road

    Mr. Hunt responded that if Charlestown has an Earned Income Tax, that money would come here. Of those municipalities collecting 1%, ½% would come here.

  8. Did Charlestown Township consider a Bond Issue? – Kate Dominick, Valley Hill Road

    Mrs. Ewald explained that the Township has borrowed funds through a bond issue for open space acquisition.

    Mr. Kuhn said that the funding is needed to pay the cost of the bond. Future bond issues may be considered once there is a revenue source in place.

  9. Are you required to identify a specific purpose, or specific properties for the Earned Income Tax? – Kate Dominick, Valley Hill Road

    Ms. Dominick said the Township would be better raising all the capital now and having it ready for whenever properties become available.

    Mrs. Csete responded that bond issues typically require that they be spent or returned within three years. Mr. Oeste said the 3-year period may be expandable, and will look into it.

    Mr. Kuhn said the Earned Income Tax would be used to pay the principal on the loans.

  10. Is there a way for the Township to have a Bond Referendum without specific properties identified for Acquisition? – Kate Dominick, Valley Hill Road

    Mr. Willig said the timing doesn’t work to wait for a property and then attempt to seek funding through a raise in the tax or initiation of a tax.

  11. Is there a way to improve the fairness of paying the Earned Income Tax? – Steven Schlicter, Jamie Lane

    All these taxes are unfair for a family earning $50,000 per year. State and school taxes keep rising too. Retired persons get income from dividends and pay no earned income tax. Can’t you raise the transfer tax instead?

    Mr. Kuhn: No.

    Mrs. Ewald: We need more information. I don’t know if it’s fair or not without more answers. Otherwise I’d have a difficult time supporting it. Also, there’s a privacy issue.

  12. What percentage of people are already paying?

    (700+/- (747) are already paying; 40% approx.)

    Can’t we target just those people who already pay it elsewhere? – Bob Roggio, Church Road.

    Mr. Oeste: No. The tax must be instituted across the board.

    Mr. Kuhn: It’s estimated that 40% of the population pays it already. Berkheimer reports that 747 of an estimated 1,600 people pay it through their company. This doesn’t include East Whiteland employees because their taxes are collected by another agency. Retired persons and children are not paying.

    Mr. Hunt: The figure of 40% hold true almost everywhere.

    Mr. Kuhn: For us that’s more like 50% after including East Whiteland, Factor out Philadelphia employees and it’s closer to 60%.

  13. How many children in Charlestown in the 2000 Census? – Irene Ewald

    (No responses.)

  14. How much $ to raise by Bond offering? – Don Andersen, Church Road

    (e.g. 30-year bond)

    Mr. Kuhn: We still have to create a revenue stream to pay back the bond.

    Mrs. Ewald: A bond issue affects a broader base of taxpayers. I could support this. There are 8,000 acres in Charlestown. I’d like to hear from Mr. Oeste as to how to get a longer term on the bond.

    Mr. Comitta: 2,500-2600 are developable.

    Emory Todd, CPA commented that he is 110% in agreement with open space preservation efforts and 110% opposed to an earned income tax. He has horror stories about collections. It’s another tax collector into everyone’s life and another form to fill out.

  15. How does Chester County get the longer term on the bond? – Irene Ewald.

    Mr. Oeste will research.

  16. Is the Average Income $88,000?
  17. ($41,000+/-)
    ($89,813 household income)
    ($78,000 projection)

    Mr. Hunt gave statistics. The median household income according to the census was $89,813, but he based his estimates more conservatively on $78,000.

  18. What are Berkheimer fees?

    (Commission = less than 3%)

    Mr. Hunt: can guarantee it will be less than 3%.

  19. Does the Board intend to invite public comment? (beyond the Public Meeting tonight) – Paul Schultze – Wells Road.

    Mr. Kuhn: We’re inviting public comment right now.

  20. Are there other ways to raise the Revenue? – Paul Schultze, Wells Road

    He is concerned with fairness. An earned income tax will have a negative impact that will cause people to leave the township, leading to tax base erosion, leading to increased tax rates. Adding new taxes in a down economy is a bad idea. My household has two, non-taxed incomes. Better to raise the property taxes.

  21. Will raising property taxes hurt Charlestown residents? – Kevin Kuhn

    Mr. Kuhn: Older residents are on a fixed income but are sitting on large properties. There is no fair way to do it. My focus is on preserving open space. I don’t care where the money comes from.

  22. Will the Great Valley School District follow and create their own Earned Income Tax? – Paul Schultze, Wells Road

    Mr. Kuhn: If they did, Malvern Borough would cease to operate. East Whiteland and Willistown both have a ½% earned income tax and the School District hasn’t taken it.

    Unidentified Woman: They’ll take it once Charlestown enacts one.

  23. Is there fairness to raise property taxes for those who pay Earned Income Tax to other municipalities?

    (no response)

  24. Are those we encourage to buy the large properties, the ones who would not buy here if the Earned Income Tax happens? – Irene Ewald

    (no response)

  25. Is the timing for the Earned Income Tax good or right? – Bruce Lassman, Glenview Road.

    Incomes are down, transportation costs and the cost of living is up. Dividend income is down. These are wants, not needs. There are true needs the Township has not fulfilled.

  26. Is there another way to generate revenue by charging Impact Fees? – Bruce Lassman, Glenview Road

    Mr. Oeste: There is no legal authority to do so. When it is done, it’s through negotiation. There is some room for negotiation, but if a developer meets all the requirements the Township has no choice but to approve their plan.

    Ms. Gerhard: The Supreme Court limited this ability even further.

  27. How many acres can be set aside for every 100 acres of developed land? – Kevin Kuhn

    Mr. Oeste: It’s negligible.

    Mr. Comitta: Concord Township has an impact fee of $2,400 per unit.

    Mr. Kuhn: That’s not enough.

  28. Should we go to a 1% Earned Income Tax? – Rick Reis, Benburb Road

    (No response)

  29. How will the land be maintained after purchase, and what will it cost to maintain? – Amy Bunten, Union Hill Road

    Mr. Willig: if aquired by easement, costs would be extremely minimal to maintain. If purchased, we’ll need a plan to cover the maintenance costs.

    Mr. Oeste: Often an easement is obtained with a co-grantee, such as a trust organization, that would enforce the restrictions.

  30. Is the Earned Income Tax to buy land just to look at? – Amy Bunten, Union Hill Road

    (versus land to physically use)

    Mr. Willig: essentially, yes.

    Ms. Gerhard: We’ll pay more without open space. Police services, widening of roads: these alternatives are coming. The question is how much and how soon.

  31. Will Open Space land acquisition save money by not providing the cost for services? – Robert Joos, Church Road

    There are only 60 people here tonight. 1,600 residents may pay.

  32. Should the Earned Income Tax be by vote referendum? – Robert Joos, Church Road

    I don’t think you need a referendum unless it is for a bond issue.

  33. How many people will be paying new taxes? (approx. 800 people) Louis Moskowitz , Union Hill Road

    Mr Oeste: We will research the bond issue length before making a decision.

  34. Could Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) be useful to the open space issue, and is it fair to the areas that receive the rights? – Stephen Schlicter, Jamie Lane

    TDR is a tremendous fairness issue.

    Mr. Kuhn: TDR is a tool, not a mandate.

    Mr. Comitta: It will take ten ways to slay the dragon. TDR is another meeting in itself. In West Bradford, the receiving area didn’t decrease in property value. West Bradford and East Vincent have both used it.

  35. Does TDR shift the burden on costs for community services? – Janet Colleran, South Winds Lane

    There is no savings benefit with TDR. It increases police and school needs.

    (No response)

  36. Is there a CAP on a Flat Tax? ($10.00) Regina Fried, Hollow Road

    The slip ramp will put pressure on for more development. Interchange will bring gas stations, Wawa, etc.

    Mr. Oeste: The occupational privilege tax cap is $25.00.

  37. What is the percentage of Households that would not pay Earned Income Tax?

    (e.g. Retired Persons, Children, Others) – Debbie Kuhn, Whitehorse Road

    Mr. Hunt: I will provide this information.

  38. Is there available information on persons who pay taxes to East Whiteland? – Peter Wilson, Blackberry Lane

    My wife and I both work in East Whiteland.

    Mrs. Csete: We received this data through East Whiteland Township but the figures are questionable. They indicate that the average wage would be around $14,000 per year, clearly impossible. Requests for confirmation haven’t brought forward corrected info.

    Mr. Hunt: The taxes collected are not public information. It is the property of the Central Tax Bureau. They only have to report the total amount collected. 65% of the East Whiteland Earned Income Tax comes from non-residents.

  39. How does the money get transferred from one Township to another?
  40. Mr. Hunt: The collector goes to each school district for data. The school district and township you reside in is filed there. We verify this information with your final tax return.

  41. Could Central Tax Bureau evaluate our situation? – John Martin, Howell Road

    Mrs. Csete: Good suggestion. I’ll look into it.

Mr. Kuhn mentiond that no one on the Board currently pays an earned income tax, therefore, they would also be impacted.

Mrs. Ewald suggested another public session be scheduled, and the other Board members agreed. The next public, Earned Income Tax meeting is scheduled for July 21, 2003, at 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.

At 10:35 P.M., Mr. Willig thanks the guests and announced a 10-minute break. The meeting reconvened at 10:55 P.M.


Minutes of June 2, 2003

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the June 2, 2003, minutes as written, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the June 16, 2003, Accounts Payable report, and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Old Business

Spring Lane Farms Revised Settlement Stipulation

Richard Orlow, Esq. said he received Mr. Oeste’s comments earlier that afternoon, reviewed them, and had a few sentences he wanted to discuss with Mr. Oeste. He said he thinks all parties are still moving forward in the same direction.

Mr. Oeste said he did not yet have an opportunity to review this with the Board and would like to go over it with them first. Mr. Orlow suggested he prepare a draft of the Conservation Easement and the Stipulation for everyone to look at. Mr. Kuhn asked that both be clean copies, void of revision marks. This issue was tabled.

Union Hill Road – Traffic Calming Measures

Mr. Willig announced the reason this issue was being brought up again was because when the road closing was voted on previously, the agenda item was speed bumps. It was not anticipated by the agenda that it would evolve into a discussion about closing the road, therefore, anyone who might have wanted to comment would not have known a road closing discussion was going to occur. Mr. Willig asked if anyone had any comments regarding the proposed road closing.

Mrs. Ann Melso asked how a discussion on speed bumps developed into a decision to close the road at rush hours. Mr. Willig responded that initially, the discussion was about closing the road. At that time, there was no decision made to do so, but rather to attempt some traffic calming steps, such as reducing the speed limit, striping the road, and adding stop signs. After going through those steps there still seems to be an issue. There was a split vote by the Board with regards to putting speed bumps on portions of Union Hill Road. Recently the issue came up again. Some residents were in favor of speed bumps, but others were not. At the last meeting, the topic was raised again to discuss whether to move forward with the installation of speed bumps or not, and after much discussion, the end result focused on restricting access during rush hour traffic.

Mrs. Melso asked how the signs would read, and Mr. Kuhn said it would read something like, “No Entry between the hours of x and x.” Mr. Willig said essentially there would be no through traffic during those hours. Mrs. Melso believes restricting access to the road is a drastic measure and wants to make sure all other alternative measures, such as law enforcement, have been pursued.

Dr. Stewart said one of the bus drivers said this is the most dangerous road on her route. He added that the initial discussions on this issue have been about safety, but now seem to have changed to convenience.

Mr. Kuhn asked residents what they felt were the ideal times to close the road. It was determined the hours of closing should be from 6:30-9:00 A.M. and 4:30-6:30 P.M. Mr. Kuhn also asked Mr. Oeste if a PennDOT study should be done first and mentioned the risk of losing liquid fuel money.

Mr. Alston made a proposal that “diamonds” be ordered for the speed limit signs on Union Hill Road, that additional speed limit signs be installed at the end of Union Hill road, and that action on this issue be delayed until the new traffic signals are operational. He believes these signals may eliminate the problem. He also said he would be happy to conduct informal traffic studies. Mr. Kuhn asked when the lights were expected to be operational. Mr. Alston said they were to be completed last month but were held up due to the electrical contractor. Mr. Kuhn asked who could be pressured to speed up this work, and Mr. Alston replied he would call the following day to find out who is dragging their feet. Mrs. Ewald suggested the drop-dead date be made as soon as possible, and no later than August 1, 2003. Mr. Kuhn concurred.

Mrs. Csete asked if an ordinance is required to enact the road closing, and Mr. Oeste replied it was. When Mrs. Csete asked about the advertising requirements, Mr. Oeste replied it must be advertised seven days prior to enactment.

Dr. Moskowitz asked if signage could be installed identifying penalties for passing a school bus. Mr. Oeste said there are limitations on placing signage, but said he would check into it.

Dr. Stewart said he would like to see Police enforcement, and Mr. Rodgers said the Board was looking into that. Mr. Alston indicated that the State Police are generally willing to work with local municipalities with regard to traffic calming enforcement. Mr. Willig voiced his concern over how the improvements could be measured.

Mr. Kuhn moved, barring no substantial traffic calming reductions gained from the completed traffic signals, to vote on an ordinance to put traffic controls on Union Hill Road during the hours of 6:30-9:00 A.M. and 4:30-6:30 P.M. no later than August 1, 2003, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Oeste indicated that all that needed to be done this evening is to authorize the advertisement of the ordinance, and on July 21st, to vote on whether to enact it. Mr. Kuhn amended his motion and moved simply to authorize advertisement of the ordinance for July 21, 2003, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

New Business

Bid Openings:

The following bids were opened and read aloud.

Road Equipment & Labor

There was only one bid submitted for Road Equipment & Labor. Mr. Willig indicated the grand total for the bid was $258,950 from Melchiorre Construction Co. Mrs. Ewald said she would like to know how it compares to last year’s Road Equipment & Labor contract, and moved to approve the extension of the current contract, not to exceed August 1, 2003. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Tree & Mowing Equipment & Labor

The following bids were submitted for Tree & Mowing Equipment & Labor:

CM Jones $56,780
Josh Lord $78,575

Mrs. Ewald moved to extend the current contract, not to exceed August 1, 2003, to allow time for the bids to be reviewed, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Bituminous Materials

The following bids were submitted for Bituminous Materials:

    Plant On-site
Highway Materials $55,700 $62,840
Glasgow $51,315 $59,295
Allen Myers ICM $51,000 $58,418

Mrs. Ewald moved to extend the current contract, not to exceed August 1, 2003, to allow time for the bids to be reviewed, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Stone Materials

The following bids were submitted for Stone Materials:

    Plant On-site
Glasgow $5,397.50 $7,085.00
Independence $5,168.50 $7,193.75

Mrs. Ewald moved to extend the current contract, not to exceed August 1, 2003, to allow time for the bids to be reviewed, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Heritage Park & Open Space Grant - Extend Contract Deadline to 12/31/03 for Completion of Basketball Court Project at Charlestown Park

Mrs. Ewald asked why an extension of this contract was needed, and Mrs. Csete answered it was due to the excessive rain that the finish work on the basketball court could not be completed. Mrs. Ewald said she would like a better explanation if this continues, but moved to approve the contract extension to December 31, 2003. Mr. Willig seconded and called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote, and all were in favor.

Other Business

There were no Other Business topics to discuss.


Mr. Kuhn moved to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:51 P.M. The next meeting will be held on June 23, 2003, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Respectfully submitted,

Melanie M. Lammers
Recording Secretary