Kennett Twp. starts budget talks

Kennett Township supervisors have started their budget process and that means hearing budget requests.

Included in the budget requests are new positions in public works, zoning, and police, and the creation of a police department scholarship program. Also included is a request to look at space and mold issues in the current township building.

At their Sept. 16 meeting, supervisors reviewed proposed expense budgets for administration, finance and human resources, employee benefits, insurance, and information technology. The Oct. 7 meeting focused on budgets for planning and zoning, police, public works, and the township building.

At the Oct. 21 meeting, supervisors will review expense budgets for community and economic development, fire and ambulance, and other contributions requested by the community. That meeting, held virtually, begins at 7 p.m.

“We anticipate when we add up all the requests, there will need to be some changes and tough decisions,” township Finance Director Amy Heinrich said. “But we’re not trying to answer all those tonight.”

Planning and zoning

One of the main budget requests for the planning and zoning department are requests to hire an in-house building inspector and a planner.

“Having these additional people would take away the burden from the limited staff we already have,” said Diane Hicks, the township’s director of planning and zoning. “We’d be able to create a team that would help to advance the Kennett Township codes department.”

If the building inspector role was brought in-house, Hicks said, that person could also be the deputy zoning officer, “enabling proactive code enforcement.”

The requested budget for the department is $468,930, which includes salaries, general expenses, building permit reviews, zoning hearing board costs, and the zoning ordinance project.

Public works

Roger Lysle, Kennett’s public works director, included in his budget requests the addition of a full-time employee, replacement of the garage roof and doors, a new zero-turn mower, and road paving, among other things.

“This year, 2020, has been a challenge,” Lysle said. “We’ve taken on a lot more on our road crew. My guys have done a tremendous job this year.”

A full-time employee would be the sixth member of the road crew, he said.

He is also requesting funds for road paving to finish several roads that were taken out of the 2020 budget, as well as other roads in need of paving. The $472,000 requested would include paving Rosedale Road, Southridge, Hillingham, Clayton Court, and part of Chandler Mill.

The roof of the 30-year-old public works garage has several water leaks, according to Lysle, and the inside of the garage doors are rusting. Replacing the roof is estimated to cost $85,000, and replacing panels on the garage door would cost about $27,000.

The addition of a zero-turn mower would help the department’s landscaping duties. Lysle explained that the public works crew is now doing all the landscaping in the township, and having a backup mower will “cut down on the cost and the timeframe for us.

“With the extra mower, that will cut down on the cost and the timeframe for us,” Lysle said, estimating it takes the crew about two days to do all the mowing and trimming of township land.

The total public works budget requests are approximately $1.142 million.

Police

The total budget requests for the township police department are $2.15 million. That includes requests for hiring two full-time officers, replacing two patrol vehicles and purchasing another patrol vehicle, the review of police policies, and the creation of a scholarship program, among other things.

Acting Chief Matt Gordon said the two full-time officers would replace the two part-time positions approved this year.

“Since November 2019, I and the manager have been reviewing the wants and needs of the police department,” Gordon said. “Going backward, we have been mostly reactive. We’re doing the best we can with what we have.

“I’m looking to go proactive and be able to staff a larger police department.”

The scholarship program, an idea Gordon said is in the early stages, proposes to allow the township to send two candidates to the police academy, pay them a wage while they attend, and then hire them once they finish the academy.

Also in the budget is a request for $111,000 to replace two of the patrol vehicles with Chevrolet Tahoe police pursuit vehicles, and to add a third patrol vehicle at an estimated cost of $55,000.

Township building

The proposed 2021 budget includes a request or $153,500 for township building expenses, including office equipment, elevator expenses, and utilities. That would also include having the township engineers look at ways to fix issues in the current building, according to township Manager Eden Ratliff.

“As the township is growing … our space is not growing with us,” Ratliff said, citing space concerns for the police department and mold concerns in the public meeting room. “The building isn’t necessarily old, but we’re trying to figure out what to do … whether or not we can do some minor construction and redesign to make the space work.”

About Monica Fragale

Monica Thompson Fragale is a freelance reporter who spent her life dreaming of being in the newspaper business. That dream came true after college when she started working at The Kennett Paper and, years later The Reporter newspaper in Lansdale and other dailies. She turned to non-profit work after her first daughter was born and spent the next 13 years in that field. But while you can take the girl out of journalism, you can’t take journalism out of the girl. Offers to freelance sparked the writing bug again started her fingers happily tapping away on the keyboard. Monica lives with her husband and two children in Kennett Square.

Comments

comments

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...
 

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.