CLEARFIELD – Resident Glenn Johnston raised the question of consolidation voting at the beginning of yesterday’s Lawrence Township Supervisors’ meeting.
He asked if the supervisors, especially Randy Powell and Dan Mitchell, if they had done anything more to educate themselves and township citizens regarding consolidating with Clearfield Borough.
Powell said, “Nothing. I still stand where I’m at,” and he added that he has called people [on the committee] and no one wants to talk with him.
Mitchell said more people have come to him and thanked him for not moving forward to putting the matter on the ballot, telling him that is why they were elected.
To review, after the joint committee on consolidation concluded its meetings, the matter went to both the borough and township.
Both municipalities needed to vote to put the decision to consolidate on their respective ballots for this past May election.
Clearfield Borough voted to put the matter to voters to decide; however, the supervisors chose not to put it on the ballot.
Powell continued by saying that one of the committee members has since come to him and said he had changed his mind on consolidation.
Johnston said that by not giving the voters the opportunity to make the choice that the supervisors were operating as dictators instead of allowing democracy to work.
He added, after being told that hundreds had come to the supervisors saying they were against consolidation, that there are about 7,000 residents in the township and that the voters numbered more than hundreds and, with such a matter, more than the normal percentage of voters might turn out for the vote.
Resident Rodger Read then spoke and said that the township officials make many decisions for the people for the public good.
“We’ve had enough of this,” he said, adding that people he has talked to from St. Marys, which consolidated with Benzinger Township about 20 years ago, say their taxes are very high.
Read noted that the township’s tax millage is half that of St. Mary’s and less than the borough’s. He suggested if people were really concerned about tax rates that they could approach the county commissioners and ask them to change the assessment from 25 to 50 percent, which Johnston then replied was a “shell game.”
According to previous articles, Clearfield Borough’s tax rate is currently 25 mills and the township’s is 18. For the borough, one mill generates $40,000; therefore, 25 times $40,000 equals $1,000,000.
A mill in the township generates $60,000; therefore, 18 times $60,000 equals $1,080,000, but only if all taxes are paid.
The borough can levy an additional 5 mills by state law. The same law limits the township to 14 mills. The township petitioned the court for an additional 2 mills in real estate taxes, and is limited to another 3 mills with court approval. An additional 2 mills, restricted for use for fire protection, were also levied, resulting in the 18 mill levy.
One mill equals one-tenth of one percent of assessed property value.
In other matters, the supervisors welcomed their new police chief, Douglas Clark. Clark gave an update on statistics and noted that most are improving from this time last year, and he intends for the trend to continue. He noted one goal he has is to increase drug arrests. He is also looking into free training for the officers.
Under code enforcement, officer Debra Finkbeiner asked the supervisors to seriously consider a rental ordinance where the township would keep a record of what properties are tenant-occupied. She said there are times when that information is critical for her office, the dog warden or police to do their jobs.
Under the secretary’s report, the supervisors approved releasing the 2017 donations to the Mill Road and Hyde fire departments as they have released their financial reports to the township.
A public hearing for Community Development Block Grant funding will be held July 18 at 6:30 p.m., followed by two conditional use hearings for timbering and the regular meeting will be at 7 p.m.
Act 13 funds were received and the amount for 2017 is $304,102.35, about $41,448 more than budgeted.
The supervisors also approved putting out for bid replacement of the roof on the Hyde building.