Newtown News Update

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Out With the "Old" Regime

History is Made in Newtown!

For Newtown Democrats, 2018 is not just a “Happy New Year,” it is the dawn of a “Happy New ERA!” For the first time EVER, Democrats form the majority on the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS)! In fact, Democrats have a 4 to 1 majority due to the re-election of 12-year veteran Phil Calabro and the election of two new Supervisors: Linda Bobrin and John Mack. Jen Dix is the fourth Democrat on the Board and Kyle Davis is the remaining lone Republican.

Gallagher's Farewell

Ryan Gallagher and Gerald Couch made their farewell speeches at the December 27, 2017, BOS meeting. Mr. Gallagher thanked everyone and included a rundown of accomplishments of the BOS during his 6 year term. 

Gallagher specifically mentioned “increased transparency" and “improved technology” as accomplishments, yet at the same BOS session he voted to remove funding for new microphones and other audio-visual equipment used during public hearings. Newtown Township still has a long way to go to improve communications and transparency if it hopes to be on a par with surrounding municipalities.

Couch's Semi-Farewell!

Mr. Couch’s farewell was an exemplar of modesty. He thanked everyone for “putting up with my ineptness.” He noted, however, that “it wasn’t for want of trying.” 

Immediately afterward, Mr. Gallagher asked Mr. Couch if he would consider filling a vacancy on the Newtown Bucks County Joint Municipal (Sewer) Authority, to which Mr. Couch simply responded “yes” in a barely audible voice, which perhaps was due to the antiquated microphone system.

Supervisor Jen Dix pointed out that this was the first time that Mr. Couch’s name came up for consideration and that several other people had abided by the rules and submitted formal requests before the December 22, 2017, deadline. “I am a little puzzled,” she said. “Why appoint a Supervisor without having them follow the rules like everybody else?”, she asked. Mr. Gallagher offered his opinion that Mr. Couch was a special case saying he “considered Mr. Couch vetted” by being a member of the Board.

The motion to appoint Mr. Couch to the Sewer Authority Board was passed 4 to 1 with Ms. Dix casting the lone “Nay” vote. To paraphrase an old sewer authority adage, “Life [and Township management] is like a sewer, what you get out of it is what you put into it. And sometimes it stinks.”

Mr. Couch will have one year to learn the details of “sanitary waste water management” as sewer professionals like to call it.

Listen to Farewell Speeches Here

In With the NEW!

Newly Elected Board Members Sworn In

John Mack, Linda Bobrin, and Phil Calabro are sworn in as Newtown Township Supervisors by District Judge Mick Petrucci on 2 Januaury 2018.

After the swearing in ceremony, the new BOS elected Phil Calabro as Chairman, Jen Dix as Vice Chairman, and John Mack as Secretary/Assistant Treasurer. Kurt Ferguson will remain Township Manager and was also re-appointed as the official Township Treasurer. 

Phil Calabro’s Welcome Address

Immediately prior to the process of re-organization, Mr. Calabro made the following comments:

"Good evening, Newtown, and a very Happy New Year!

"I​ would like to thank all of you who voted in the recent election. I​ am​ also ​grateful to the people of Newtown for putting their trust in me to serve another term on this Board, and to my fellow Board of Supervisor members for entrusting me with the position of Chairperson. It is an honor to sit in this center seat. I am humbled by your faith in me.

"I promise to do everything possible to justify your confidence. I will listen to all ​residents and do my best to lead the Board to decisions that are in the best interest of Newtown as a whole. This Board of Supervisors represents all the residents of our community, and we need everyone's help to keep Newtown a wonderful place to call home.

"On behalf of our fellow residents, and on behalf of the Board of Supervisors, I must also express our appreciation to Kyle Davis, our former Chairperson, and still a member of this Board, for his service as our Chair, and for always conducting meetings in an orderly and professional manner. We may not have always agreed on certain issues, but we always had the same motivation - our deep love and caring for Newtown. Thank you Kyle.

"​I would also like to thank ​2​ past Supervisors tonight; Ryan Gallagher and Gerry Couch. We thank you both for your service to our town.​

"It is ​our goal to bring more residents into the decision making process. There will be changes to the committee structure to enhance our expertise and improve two way communication with everyone. Some committees will be disbanded, while others are created or reinvented to better serve us.

"We are all in this together, and the more knowledgeable helpful input, the better.."

Wish List

"Here is my wish list of things we should seek to accomplish:

  • We will focus on strategic and long term planning to improve public safety, infastructure and traffic congestion.

  • ​Revise the 2018 budget wi​t​h dedicated millage for the Ambulance Squad and​ a​ special fire hydrant maintenance fund​. By doing this it will​​ put​ back $300k into the general fund. ​It ​​does not increase spending and keeps services at 100%. [For background, read "Board of Supervisors Debate Spending Cuts vs New Taxes to Fund EMS & Fire Hydrant Maintenance".] 

Continued below...

Later in the meeting, a motion to reopen the 2018 budget for preliminary consideration at the Board of Supervisors meeting of January 10, 2018 was put forward and PASSED 4 to 1 with Kyle Davis casting the sole nay vote.

Calabro's Wish List continued...

  • "Encourage the Planning Commission and Environmental Advisory Council to work more closely together to increase and maintain our open space; focus more directly on open space in the land development and zoning process; and be educated​ ​and informative on pipeline and fracking issues. We need to keep ahead of these potential dangers.

  • Relaunch the Finance Committee, with a dual emphasis on budget analysis and revenue generating opportunities. The Economic Development Committee's charge will be folded back into the overall financial picture for Newtown as a part of the renewed Finance Committee.

  • Better communication between our government and our residents. We will direct the Technology Committee to find the ​most efficient, cost effective way to interact. We will select the best ideas from around the Commonwealt​h ​and the nation to be able to reach each other.

  • We should work more closely with the surrounding towns. We have had a very effective Jointure with Upper Makefield and Wrightstown for zoning and land development for decades. It is the only such organization in Pennsylvania. I propose​ ​that we talk with Newtown Borough, Lower Makefield, and Middletown to see if we can start to work together on issues that impact all of us. The shape of that effort will take time to evolve, but it is so much better to work together on common​ ​challenges, than to go it alone."

Reorganization Summary

Dave Bria Talks About Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

Dave Bria - newly elected Yardley Borough Council member - intends to introduce an anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the LGBTQ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer - community in Yardley from employment and housing discrimination. In this interview Bria discusses some of details of his proposed ordinance and the reasons why he feels it is important for local municipalities to enact such laws.

Listen Here

John Mack