January 23, 2019. Historically, the first BIP General Membership Luncheon of the year is devoted to hearing the State of the Township. This year it was presented by Acting Township Manager Brenda DeGerolamo, Police Chief Larry Palmer and Board of Supervisors Chairman Dave Colver.
Brenda began by summarising the Administration’s activities.
“Most of you know me as the Secretary of the BIP. Today I am here as the Interim Township Manager to give you an overview of things that happened last year and things happening in the new year. I’ll leave the question that everyone wants to know, what is the status of a new township manager, for Dave to address.
As we do each year, we begin with a fresh set of priorities and objectives in all of our service areas and these all get discussed at our annual budget meetings with the Board of Supervisors. Our 2019 budget was adopted by the BOS December 10, 2018 with the goal to continue to provide high-quality municipal services to our residents and businesses. Year in and year out, this is not an easy task, particularly with the mindset of trying to do more with less. However, we were able to present a No Tax Increase budget with the millage rate remaining at 8.25 mills. For the average homeowner in Palmer Township that equates to a $610 tax bill.
The township’s budget includes 14 different funds: the General Fund, our largest fund is at $11.6 million. Other funds include the Fire Fund, Solid Waste & Recycling, Parks and Recreation, CCCC fund, Pool fund, Sewer Fund, Debt Service Fund, Capital Reserve fund, Recreation Capital Reserve fund, Sewer Capital Reserve fund, Road Equipment fund, Highway Aid fund (Commonwealth of PA’s Liquid Fuels funding), and last but not least the General Reserve fund. When you total them all 14 funds up the complete township budget is at $33.5 million.
As a Township staff, we are committed to our core mission of providing high quality, cost effective services for our residents and our businesses.
In retrospect, 2018 was a great year for the Township. We continued with our Capital Projects Campaign to include finalizing the construction of significant outdoor amenities at the Charles Chrin Community Center. They include the addition of a synthetic turf field, two natural turf fields, improved parking at the center, and a 2-mile walking trail that connects with the Palmer Athletic Complex near Palmer Elementary School. This spring we will be finalizing and completing the westerly entrance of the community center on to Bethman Road.
In addition to this let me give you a quick overview of our other departments and some of the things we have planned for 2019:
Our Public Works Department will continue with our paving program in 2019 targeting those areas of the Township that are in most need of repair. We did budget approximately $560,000 with half of those funds coming from the Commonwealth’s liquid fuels fund.
In our Public Utilities Department, we began the task of identifying weaknesses in our sanitary sewer system and we implemented a new FOG program (Fats, Oils, and Greases). This program will help curb illegal dumping of solids into the sanitary system that invariably cause major backups. This program includes inspections of the sewer lines and enables us to help our businesses come into compliance with our ordinances and treatment responsibilities which are stipulated by the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority.
The township is currently in the process of upgrading two sewer lines within the township. One on Charlotte Avenue which will allow the developer of the Palmer Point Apartments to connect and extend the system through their property. The plan then is to extend the gravity system from their property up to the existing pump station at the Maple Shade Estates subdivision. Once completed, it will then eliminate the need for that pump station in the future.
We are also in the process of installing a public low-pressure force main along Burrowes Street. This system will allow homeowners in the area to install on-lot grinder pumps in their homes that will hook into our public system and eliminate the need for their on-lot septic systems.
The Board of Supervisors adopted our updated Comprehensive Plan in January 2018. The Planning Department along with our consultant Environmental, Planning and Design did a great job putting together a plan that will guide some of our planning decisions for the foreseeable future. The Board of Supervisors also authorized updating the township Zoning Ordinance as the second piece to this project and that process is currently taking place. We expect the zoning update to be completed by the end of 2019.
Our Fire Department, under Commissioner Steve Gallaher’s leadership, consists of a group of 30 active members and I believe Palmer Township continues to field the best volunteer fire department in the Lehigh Valley. In 2018 they responded to 766 calls.
With the Township assisting the Municipal Fire Department, we’re able to help our volunteers focus more on training than fundraising, and from our perspective, this brings added value to the services we can provide. In April of 2018 we took delivery of 2 new fire apparatus – a tiller ladder truck and a pumper truck.
Our finance office continues to find ways to streamline both our purchasing, AP, AR and budgeting functions by utilizing updates provided by our finance software provider. Using this new technology is helping us to reduce paperwork and processing times.
In October 2018 we provided a new online payment option for our residents through Xpress Bill Pay. Residents can now go online and set up an account to make automatic payments for sewer and garbage bills. Once enrolled you receive emails and text messages regarding the status of invoices and payments. If you’re interested in enrolling, you can visit the township website: palmertwp.com for the information on getting started.
From an accounts receivable perspective, our EIT, BPT, LST, Sewer & Garbage collections continue to be strong.
On January 2, 2019, we received notification from the Department of Environmental Protection announcing the approval of a Recycling Development and Implementation Grant under Section 902 of the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act (Act 101). They are awarding us $350,000 to construct a new recycling center on Hartley Avenue. This site will be immediately west of our existing center adjacent to the Easton Suburban Water Authority Administrative Offices. Acceptance of this grant will be before the Board of Supervisors at their next meeting, January 29, 2019.
Lastly, I am happy to report that the State of our Township is strong!
I believe it’s an exciting place to live, work, and play. As a 17-year employee with the township and a 37-year resident,
I’m proud of our accomplishments and I can’t express enough gratitude to our Board of Supervisors who equally share in the vision that Palmer Township is and will continue to be a model community in the Lehigh Valley.”
Police Chief Larry Palmer provided a summary of the Police Department.
Chief Palmer presented his information in a graphic and spreadsheet format. The data meets the standards of the nationwide Uniform Crime reporting. The Chief indicated that the theft crimes remain high principally because of the thefts from cars in the township. People need to keep there vehicles locked and valuables out of site. Drug offenses have increased because of the addition of a detective focusing on drug cases with more arrests being made. The department is in the process of creating a crime watch program using social media to make residents more aware of what is going on and preventative measures. Click here to view the Chief’s data.
Dave Colver’s summary of major township projects.
Chairman Colver reported on the following projects:
- The Fire Department is planning the development of a fire training facility in the vicinity of the police training area near Riverview Park.
- The construction of the 300 apartment complex on Hartley Ave. will begin this year.
- The remaining work at the Charles Chrin Community Center of Palmer Township will be completed this year.
- The Tuskes development on both side of Northwood Ave. will be continuing through the year. Northwood Ave. will be closed this year to complete the improvements which were started in 2018.
- Major development has taken place in the northern section of the township throughout this past year and will continue in 2019.
- An increase in tax revenue for the township, school district and county will come from these projects beginning this year and continuing into the future.
- The township’s Comprehensive Plan update was completed in 2018 with consulting assistance from Environmental Planning and Design.
- The township is currently updating its Zoning Ordinance with the help of the same consulting firm which should be completed by the end of 2019.