Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of January 16, 2008

A hearing was held January 16, 2008 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Kevin Kuhn, Chairman, Charlie Philips, Vice Chairman, Hugh Willig, Michael Rodgers, Mark Thompson, Esq., Aliena Gerhard, Linda Csete, Township Administrator, and those on the attached list were present.

Mr. Kuhn called the meeting to order at 5:34 P.M.


Ordinance Authorizing a Referendum on the Question of Imposing Additional Earned Income Tax to be Used to Preserve, Conserve and Acquire Open Space Property Interests, Open Space Uses, and Farmland

Mr. Thompson opened the hearing to consider an ordinance to authorize a referendum to be placed on the April 22, 2008 ballot. The ordinance must be passed and forwarded to Chester County Voter Services 13 weeks prior to Election Day. The question to be included on the ballot is whether the voters favor an increase in the Earned Income Tax (EIT) for an additional ½% to be used for open space purposes. He said the Board decided at their January 7th meeting to move forward by drafting the ordinance and scheduling this evening’s hearing. Mr. Kuhn explained that the 13 week deadline required that the Board schedule the hearing earlier than their next meeting on January 22nd, and it was therefore set for this evening.

The following items were entered into the record by the Township:

T-1 Letter to the Daily Local News from Mark Thompson, Esq. requesting publication of the public notice
T-2 Letter to the Chester County Law Library from Mark Thompson, Esq. attaching a copy of the Ordinance
T-3 Public Notice
T-4 Draft Ordinance

Mr. Kuhn asked for questions and comments from the public.

John Martin said he’s neutral toward the question of increasing the EIT, and asked when it would take effect. Mr. Thompson responded, January 2009. Mr. Martin said he was on the Great Valley School District’s (GVSD) tax study committee, and noted there are alternatives to raising the EIT another ½%. It could be raised in smaller increments, for example, as was done in Willistown Township.

Mr. Martin asked if it is even a requirement that this go to referendum, since the GVSD doesn’t collect any EIT and is unlikely to do so in the future due to new requirements they would have to follow under Act 1 and due to the fact that Malvern Borough depends heavily on the 1% it already collects. Mr. Kuhn said even though the Township may increase the tax without going to the citizens, the Board wants to have the voters’ support. The Township has had phenomenal success in preserving open space, in addition to several new exciting projects in the works.

Lisa Scottoline asked for confirmation from the Board that the definite plan for the additional EIT funds is to save more open space. Mr. Kuhn said yes. Mr. Kuhn said there were four settlements on easement acquisition during the last two weeks of December. Mrs. Gerhard added the Kling easement was one of these.

Ms. Scottoline asked if the tax will be rescinded once all the open space is bought, and Mr. Willig said it would be rescinded once the debt on those costs are paid. Mr. Kuhn added the original ½% EIT might remain. Ms. Scottoline confirmed that the proposed additional tax is for a finite purpose, and Mr. Kuhn said yes. It would bring in an additional $800,000 - $1M per year, which would be used to obtain additional bond funding. This ensures that future Boards must use the funds to pay off the debt and not for other purposes. The Township’s position is to avoid the need to increase services that would require increased taxes.

Ms. Scottoline said the State grant program requires trails on open space and considers trails a major goal, and asked if it is the Township’s as well. Mr. Kuhn said preservation is the Township’s #1 goal, and though the Board likes to see trails included, he considers it a secondary preference. Ms. Scottoline said she has security concerns with regard to trails, and asked if it’s correct that the Township wouldn’t require a trail if no grant funds are used from the county or state. Mr. Kuhn affirmed this is the case. Some property easements are acquired without county or state funding. He added that Charlestown has been awarded $2 million from the county and state so far, and they tend to award more to townships doing more on their own.

Ms. Scottoline said Aliena Gerhard is awesome, and solicited applause from all in attendance. Ms. Gerhard said that if a property owner donates an easement, this is another situation in which no trail is needed. Ms. Scottoline asked if the Board asks all landowners for a trail, and Mr. Willig responded yes, the process is not selective. Mr. Kuhn clarified that in isolated cases, such as the Marulli-Koenig property, the Board determined a trail is not needed. Those two parcels are small, at the edge of the township, and don’t link to other open spaces.

Mr. Martin said as a volunteer tax preparer who does 200-250 tax returns per year, he has observed a widespread avoidance of the EIT tax. Renters are often not on the tax rolls, nor are adult children who move back to their parents’ houses. People with P.O. Boxes are often not flagged for their residence. He asked what Centax does to enforce the tax ordinance, speculating that there’s not much incentive for them to pursue non-payers due to the low commission rate they receive on collections. He also noted Centax sends their annual tax return forms out later than Berkheimer, which causes a delay and some confusion on the part of tax payers. Although they can download generic forms from the Centax website, these forms don’t contain the tracking numbers that are on the individual forms a taxpayer receives directly from Centax. Mrs. Csete said that the Township office works with Centax to provide details on renters and multiple-adult households, not only for the EIT but for the Per Capita tax, but undoubtedly some individuals are unknown to the Township. Mr. Martin said he’s heard that the State may be taking over local earned income tax collection starting in 2010, and this would make the process more efficient. Mrs. Csete agreed, particularly with regard to collecting “reciprocals”. She gave herself as an example of a reciprocal. ½% EIT is paid to Charlestown and ½% to her township of residence, West Whiteland. Once a year, Centax and Berkheimer straighten all these payments out, and eventually West Whiteland gets the additional ½% that was originally credited to Charlestown, since West Whiteland’s tax is for the entire 1%. This causes a delay in getting the right tax funds to the right township, and most likely results in some errors as well. If everything went to the State on the same state designed form, reciprocals would be eliminated.

The hearing was closed. Mr. Rodgers moved to adopt Ordinance #143-08, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:54 P.M. The next business meeting is scheduled for January 22, 2008, 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Administrator
sheet, 1/16/2008