LOWER MILFORD TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS
The Oct. 17 Lower Milford Township Supervisors meeting began with the approval of last month’s minutes and a quick recap of the fall festival by Chairperson Donna Wright.
Wright reported 65 vendors and 2,500 people attended the Lower Milford Fall Festival. The festival was highly praised, with smiles and nodding heads around the room. Wright described the day as very impressive. She attended to help at her sister’s alpaca booth.
“It was a huge turnout. Very successful. All of the food vendors ran out of food, except for one. And they brought more than they had last year, so it was really good,” Wright said.
The meeting then moved to the topic of the Southern Lehigh Public Library. The library representatives were there for their yearly budget request. Lower Milford Library Representative Ryan Fields was in attendance with Library Director Lynette Saeger. Their presentation focused on the need for improved facility maintenance. The building is going on 15 years old and noticeable wear and tear is beginning, as presented by Saeger.
The representatives thanked Lutron Electronics, based in Coopersburg, for assisting with updated lighting control in the form of sensors, dimmers and shade controls. Lutron specializes in lighting control and is based in the Lehigh Valley. The library is seeking a 5 percent increase to its budget of $25,000 from last year. The money would go to improvements for facility maintenance.
The library representatives then moved on to the various events and fundraisers hosted at the library, including the Read Between the Wines: Wine Tasting + Silent Auction Benefit Event. The event was to be held Oct. 19. Last year, the event raised $8,000 and was the biggest fundraiser of the year.
They also showcased the library’s new partnership with 11 other libraries in the area. The program is called the Lehigh Carbon Cooperative and allows members of any of the participating libraries to take out books from any of the libraries in the cooperative.
Supervisors did not see any of these changes as a problem, and at the end of the presentation, thanked the representatives for what they do for the community and would consider their presentation in their budget conversations.
Moving to old business, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission responded to the idea of the ordinance constructing an overlay district in the township. The overlay would serve as a catch-all district in the new zoning map for Lower Milford Township.
The LVPC’s letter stated the overlay district was an innovative approach but the language in the letter was not entirely concise.
The overlay district would seemingly allow for an open zone where others could come in and develop whatever they would like. However, there is currently a regional plan that helps protect smaller municipalities so several types of construction can be completed, but gives the township an option to have legal backing against a development plan they don’t approve.
This was stated to have taken years to get enacted and the board was uncomfortable deviating from their regional plan. Supervisor John Quigley said the other regions in the plan should be aware these changes are happening.
Wright said if they want to do an official zoning map then they should establish what kind of zones they are allowing. She does not think they should push the overlay district through because she does not want to see the township open up a zone to whatever would like to move in. It was suggested this ordinance and overall issue should go back to the planning commission, as the new overlay area is not properly defined yet.
Moving on, the supervisors reviewed and discussed Resolution 2019-7, for the volunteer recruitment and retention stipend program for qualified active volunteer members of volunteer fire companies providing services in the township. The board wanted to make it explicitly clear this is not being paid directly to the volunteer firefighters, but as a lump sum to the company to aid in it’s efforts.
A new provision was added into the language regarding the program. The new language now shows the number of calls a firefighter attends reflects the amount available to earn as a stipend at the end of the year. The total amount shall not surpass $3,000 per year and the lump sum check shall be delivered during the first quarter of the year. This program will allow the most active firefighters to earn a small check at the end of the year in the area of approximately $250. The resolution for the program was approved, but the supervisors did wish a fire company representative was in attendance, just to show thanks.
The evening next turned to the budget presented by Township Manager Zach Cooperman.
The township will start with a beginning cash balance of $2 million. The expenditures were next listed.
Public Works wages will again grow by their annual 3 percent. The first payment of $45,000 will start in 2020 and continue through 2023 to purchase new equipment and machines for the township. The roads were noted for their recent deterioration and the tools, vehicles and machinery necessary need to be an upgraded. Consequently, another payment of $35,000 will also be made in 2020, which will be the first of five payments for another new machine.
Cooperman said there will be no increase in millage and that all of the new equipment will be bought and paid for with no increased taxes.
Wright was happy about the budget and where the money was going.
Snovitch commented, “We are gonna have new equipment out on the road in the next five years and we aren’t gonna see a tax increase. If you wanna have good roads, you need good people and good equipment... Right now, we just don’t have the equipment.”
The supervisors discussed the strenuous work the township workers perform and said the budget should be focused on serving our township workers so they can fix the roads in the area, which would truly help the community.
“Starting to get these new vehicles will help us work consistently.” Cooperman said.
Supervisors then discussed their thoughts on the 5 percent budget increase to the library. Quigley questioned how much people from Lower Milford are going to the library all the way near DeSales in the Coopersburg/Center Valley area. The membership amounts showed that 31 percent of Lower Milford residents hold a library card from Southern Lehigh Public Library.
The budget amount is estimated to be an extra $3,547. But, before an exact amount is decided, Quigley said he wants to do more research.
Wright made a request for a sewage report, as payments are needed and Wright would like to know what kind of work is being done. She would like an update before these payments are made.
After a few more approvals of small matters, no public comments were made and the meeting was then adjourned.
The next Lower Milford Supervisors meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 21. The meetings are held at the Lower Milford Township building, 7607 Chestnut Hill Church Road, Coopersburg.