In borough, taxing issues, murder mystery

During its nearly two-hour meeting on Monday, Aug. 1, Kennett Square Borough Council grappled with diverse issues, ranging from whether to support an effort to redirect Philadelphia wage taxes to how to solve the mystery of the American Mushroom Party to how to fill the void left by the retirement of its police chief.

Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick (right) swears in Stephanie Everett as an alternate on the borough's Civil Service Commission.

Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick (right) swears in Stephanie Everett as an alternate on the borough's Civil Service Commission.

The tax issue generated the most debate. Borough Manager Joseph Scalise explained that the Sterling Act, passed by the state legislature in 1932, has enabled Philadelphia to tax borough residents without remitting any portion of the wage fee back to the borough.

Scalise said the borough, which he said loses $12,000 a year, was asked by the Chester County Association of Township Officials to join area municipalities to pass a resolution supporting an effort to repeal the law.

Councilmen Geoffrey Bosley, Danilo Maffei and Doug Doerfler voted in support of the measure, arguing that it would serve the borough. However, the measure failed to pass in a 4-3 vote. Espousing a more regional view, Councilman Ethan Cramer advocated the importance of not undermining the area’s main urban center, and Councilman Jamie Mallon noted that if the effort succeeded, Philadelphia would need to close the gap, potentially subjecting residents to an even higher tax.

During public comment, resident John Thomas criticized the vote, suggesting that council members need to protect the interests of the borough’s 6,000 residents. “We’re not saviors of the world,” he said.

In her report, Mary Hutchins, executive director of Historic Kennett Square, said preliminary plans were underway to establish a “Holiday Village” in the borough. She said it would be a joint venture with Kennett Township and would be held the first weekend in December at The Creamery, a pop-up beer garden on Birch Street.

Hutchins said that 12 to 20 artisans would be selected to sell their wares and that the school district had approved the use of its Legacy Field for parking.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Bosley, noting that it would encourage people to shop locally.

The council agreed that Hutchins should continue to pursue the plan with the understanding that alcohol would not be part of the initiative.

Hutchins also reported that the borough’s popular Murder Mystery Art Stroll would be held on Friday, Aug. 5. Entitled “The Mystery of the American Mushroom Party,” the family-friendly activity represents collaboration with the Kennett Area Theater Society. She said participants enter stores, where they interview people who hold clues to the mystery.

In other business, the council approved the selection of Stephanie Everitt as an alternate on the borough’s Civil Service Commission. Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick then swore her in. Stressing the importance of the commission, Cramer said he hoped other residents would step forward. “We could use a couple more,” he said.

Following the approval of Kennett Square Borough Police Chief Edward A. Zunino Jr., Fetick noted that Cpl. Bill Holdsworth had been promoted to interim lieutenant and would be in charge of the department until Zunino’s replacement was found.

Calling the selection one of the most important decisions council would make, Borough Councilman Wayne Braffman suggested that council determine in advance the qualities it would be seeking, suggesting that community policing experience be “heavily weighted.”

“We have to get the process absolutely right,” Braffman said.

Maffei said the borough was indeed fortunate that Zunino had opted to maintain roots in his hometown. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better,” said Maffei.




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