Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cell Phone Ban Proposed by Allentown

As an elected official, I can clearly understand Allentown Councilman Michael Schlossberg’s desire to implement a ban on cell phone use as a way to save lives. According to the PA Dept of Transportation, in the past seven years there were about 6,900 accident injuries listing cell phone use as contributing causes. Last month, the City of Philadelphia’s ban on the use of handheld cell phones went into effect.

As a citizen of our Commonwealth, I understand the need to ban cell phone use and texting while driving as a way to save lives. I do not see the proposed law as an infringement on my individual rights, but a way to save lives. The life it saves may be yours… or your family’s!

The proposed bill to ban cell phone use and texting while driving has passed the State House and the bill now awaits passage by the State Senate. Now here is the problem. Despite the fact that the bill will save live, it is unlikely the State Senate will pass the proposed ban.

There is a fun part. We live in a Commonwealth where we have about 2200 municipalities that can pass local laws to protect public safety. It is common for municipalities to pass resolutions supporting proposed State laws as a way of forcing the State House and Senate to pass rational legislation. If the State fails to act, many municipalities will act locally as a way of sending a clear message to Harrisburg!

So was Councilman Schlossberg’s proposal a political stunt? Maybe. But in my opinion, the underlying rationale of his proposal was to follow the lead of the City of Philadelphia and implement a law that protects public safety and saves lives!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Forks Refinances Debt


By a 5 to 0 vote, Forks Township BoS approved restructuring its $7.7M in debt and added $3.7M in new debt. The township issued $11.3M in new General Obligation bonds with a net interest cost of 3.258%.

In refinancing its debt, Forks Township saved $766,623 (NPV Savings of $5145,128) and only extended its debt servicing period by 4 years.

Forks Township received a AA rating and a stable outlook from Standard and Poor’s (S&P). In S&P’s opinion, the rating reflects the township’s:

  • Very Strong wealth and income levels
  • Good amount of available reserves, which are expected to increase in the coming years according to management’s fund balance target of $1.0M by fiscal year-end 2011.
  • Moderate overall net debt burden.

The Standard & Poor's rating scale is as follows, from excellent to poor: AAA, AA+, AA, AA-, A+, A, A-, BBB+, BBB, BBB-, BB+, BB, BB-, B+, B, B-, CCC+, CCC, CCC-, CC, C, D. Anything lower than a BBB- rating is considered a speculative or junk bond.

The S&P analyst report stated Forks is primarily a residential in nature; and it has approximately 2,000 lots available for residential growth and another 75 to 100 lots available at an industrial park in the township. In S&P’s opinion, income levels are very strong: Media household effective buying income is currently 162% and 154% of commonwealth and nationals levels, respectively.

The Assessed Value (AV is the valuation placed on property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation) of the Forks tax base is $484M in fiscal year 2008 and have increased by an average of 7% annually since fiscal year 2004. Furthermore, market value (is the agreed upon price between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under usual and ordinary circumstances) is currently $1.2B; it has increased by an average of 16% annually since fiscal year 2004, yielding a very strong $84,364 per capita (person).

Finally, the S&P report states the township’s overall net debt is a moderate $4,266 per capita, or 5.1% of the market value.  The township is planning to retire 51% of it’s total debt over 10 years and 100% by 2027.

Get Involved! Every Voice Counts!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

24th District Northampton County Elected Officials Meeting

This morning, Senator Mensch meet with Northampton County local elected officials to discussed various local and state issues.

We discuss the use of radar guns for local municipalities to combat speeding in our townships. Additionally, we discussed the state of PA infrastructure and the concern the Tatamy bridge repair will not begin on-time. Finally, the issue of regional cooperation between townships was debated.

It was a good meeting and it was pleasure to spend some time with our state senator.


Get Involved! Every Voice Counts!

Forks BoS Approves Comprehensive Plan

Tonight, a public hearing was conducted to gather input on the latest revision of the Comprehensive Plan.  Unfortunately, the parse public turnout resulted in no public comments.

Later in the evening, the Forks Township BoS approved the Comprehensive Plan by a 5 to 0 vote.

Get Involved! Every Voice Counts

Sunday, February 7, 2010

EASD Ad Hoc Budget Committee

It seems I was not aware EASD was having a budget meeting last Thursday night.  The school passed a preliminary budget that contains about a 12% tax rate increase. Yikes!

The EASD Ad Hoc budget committee will be meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 PM to discuss potential reductions to the budget – I think.

I hope people can attend!

Get Involved! Every Voice Counts!