News Archive


Pa. Supreme Court Upholds Governmental Damages Cap, Urges Legislative Action

Thursday November 20th, 2014

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently upheld the $500,000 damages cap in the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act in a case in which a student's leg was amputated following a bus accident on school district property.

A Bucks County jury originally awarded the plaintiff more than $14 million in damages, although the common pleas court judge who presided over the case reduced that to $500,000 in accordance with the damages cap.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the cap on tort liability of political subdivisions is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection principles.

The school district and its supporting parties, including the PSATS Township Legal Defense Partnership, argued that the damages cap represents a reasonable decision by the General Assembly to limit the potential financial liability of political subdivisions and, by extension, the taxpayers.

In an opinion by Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille issued on November 19, the justices unanimously upheld the state’s cap in Zauflik v. Pennsbury School District.

Castille noted that the facts of the case "are tragic" but said the General Assembly is in a better position than the court to address such a complicated public policy question.

Justice Max Baer also urged legislative action to increase the damages cap.



PSATS Submits Concerns to EPA on Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Monday November 17th, 2014

PSATS recently submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing major concerns about proposed changes to the Clean Water Act that would create an unfunded mandate and drastically impact township budgets.

Township officials are asked to follow the Association’s lead and comment on the proposal by November 14, 2014. To date, there have been more than 400,000 comments filed with the EPA.

If adopted, the EPA rule would tighten federal control over the nation’s waters and land, including private property. It would do this by expanding the definition of “waters of the U.S.” to include not only “navigable waters” that flow between states, typically rivers, but also streams, wetlands, ponds, and even temporary bodies of water created by heavy rains and flooding, such as ditches.

PSATS believes that if the rule is adopted, townships may be forced to ask for federal approval before cleaning drainage ditches or even spraying pesticides in standing water.

Click here to view the comments submitted by PSATS.



FEMA Firefighter Grant Applications Due Dec. 5

Monday November 17th, 2014

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is accepting applications for Assistance to Firefighters Grants. Eligible applicants include fire departments and emergency medical services organizations.

Three types of grants are available:

  • operations and safety (includes items such as training, equipment, and personal protective gear);
  • vehicle acquisition; and
  • joint/regional projects.

AFG recipients must provide matching cash cost shares. Communities with populations of less than 20,000 are subject to a 5-percent match and those with populations between 20,000 and 1 million are subject to a 10-percent match. Applications are due December 5.

Note: All eligible applicants must be registered and active in the System for Award Management (SAM) before they can submit an application. FEMA may not make an award to an entity until the entity has complied with the requirements to provide a valid DUNS number and maintain an active SAM registration with current information.

Click here for more information or call toll-free, (866) 274-0960.



PSATS Special Report: Post Election Recap

Thursday November 6th, 2014

On Nov. 4, Democrat Tom Wolf was elected Pennsylvania’s 47th governor, defeating Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley with 55 percent to 45 percent of the vote. The new lieutenant governor is Democratic Sen. Mike Stack from the 5th Senatorial District in Philadelphia. Wolf’s election breaks the traditional cycle of the governor’s office changing parties every eight years.

The Republicans will control the General Assembly in the 2015-16 legislative session, scoring an even larger gain in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Members of both chambers are expected to reconvene the week of Nov. 10 to select their leaders for the new session. In races for the state’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republicans control with a 13-5 majority.

PSATS congratulates all election winners and urges township officials to contact their newly elected and incumbent legislators to offer congratulations and assistance on any issues affecting local government. We also congratulate the five township supervisors newly elected to the state House:

  • 5th House District: Barry Jozwiak (R) — Supervisor, Bern Township, Berks County
  • 41st House District: Brett Miller (R) — Supervisor, East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County
  • 99th House District: David Zimmerman (R) — Supervisor, East Earl Township, Lancaster County
  • 145th House District: Craig Staats (R) — Supervisor, Richland Township, Bucks County
  • 176th House District: Jack Rader (R) — Supervisor, Jackson Township, Monroe County

General Assembly

In the General Assembly, all 203 seats in the House of Representatives and one-half of the 50 seats in the Senate were up for election. Five senators and 13 House members did not seek re-election. Six House members ran for Senate seats. Nine incumbents in the Senate and 82 members of the House ran unopposed.

Senate results

In the state Senate, the 25 even-numbered district seats were up for election. Nine incumbents ran unopposed, and 16 seats were contested. The Republicans gained three seats and will continue to hold the majority in the chamber with a 30-20 lead.

A breakdown of election results shows that 11 Republican incumbents will return to the Senate in January:

  • Tommy Tomlinson (R-6),
  • Chuck McIlhinney (R-10),
  • Stewart Greenleaf (R-12),
  • Patrick Browne (R-16),
  • Lisa Baker (R-20),
  • Bob Mensch (R-24),
  • John Eichelberger (R-30),
  • Jake Corman (R-34),
  • Randy Vulakovich (R-38),
  • John Rafferty (R-44), and
  • Mike Folmer (R-48).

Six Democratic incumbents were re-elected to the Senate:

  • Christine Tartaglione (D-2),
  • Anthony Williams (D-8),
  • John Yudichak (D-14),
  • Lisa Boscola (D-18),
  • John Blake (D-22), and
  • Wayne Fontana (D- 42). 

One incumbent, Timothy Solobay (D-46), lost his bid for re-election.

There will be seven new members of the Senate. Of that total, three will be House members who won a seat in the state Senate. They are:

  • Rep. Ryan Aument (R-36),
  • Rep. Mario Scavello (R-40), and
  • Rep. Michele Brooks (R-50).

Rep. Deberah Kula (D-32) did not win her bid for a Senate seat.

The four other new members of the Senate will be:

  • Arthur Haywood (D-4),
  • Thomas McGarrigle (R-26),
  • Patrick Stefano (R-32), and
  • Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

House results

Control of the House of Representatives will remain with the Republicans, who picked up eight seats and will now have a 119-84 margin.

Four incumbents were defeated:

  • Jesse White (D-46),
  • Rick Mirabito (D-83),
  • Mark Painter (D-146), and
  • Mike Fleck (D-81), who ran as a Democrat after losing the Republican primary last spring.

There will be 25 new members of the House next year, and five are CURRENT TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS AND PSATS MEMBERS!

  • 5th House District: Barry Jozwiak (R) — Supervisor, Bern Township, Berks County
  • 8th House District: Tedd Nesbit (R)
  • 17th House District: Parke Wentling (R)
  • 22nd House District: Peter Schweyer   (D)
  • 41st House District: Brett Miller (R) — Supervisor, East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County
  • 46th House District: Jason Orititay (R)
  • 52nd House District: Ryan Warner (R)
  • 66th House District: Chris Dush (R)
  • 74th House District: Harry Lewis (R)
  • 80th House District: Judith Ward (R)
  • 81st House District: Rich Irvin (R)
  • 83rd House District: Jeff Wheeland (R)
  • 90th House District: Paul Schemel (R)
  • 93rd House District: Kristin Phillips-Hill (R)
  • 99th House District: David Zimmerman (R) — Supervisor, East Earl Township, Lancaster County
  • 102nd House District: Russell Diamond (R)
  • 115th House District: David Parker (R)
  • 120th House District: Aaron Kaufer  (R)
  • 145th House District: Craig Staats (R) — Supervisor, Richland Township, Bucks County         
  • 146th House District: Thomas Quigley (R)
  • 163rd House District: James Santora (R)
  • 169th House District: Kate Anne Klunk (R)
  • 173rd House District: Michael Driscoll (D)
  • 176th House District: Jack Rader (R) — Supervisor, Jackson Township, Monroe County
  • 179th House District: Jason Dawkins (D)

U.S. Congressional races in PA

In races for Pennsylvania’s 18-member delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republicans will have a 13-5 majority. No Senate races were held in the state this year.

Two incumbent members of the delegation are retiring: Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-6) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13).

Three incumbent members of the Pennsylvania delegation ran unopposed: Reps. Charles Dent (D-13), Michael Doyle (R-14) and Tim Murphy (R-18).

Four Democratic incumbents won: Robert Brady (D-1), Chaka Fattah (D-2), Mike Doyle (D-14), and Matthew Cartwright (D-17).

Twelve Republican incumbents won: Mike Kelly (R-3), Scott Perry (R-4), Glenn Thompson (R-5), Patrick Meehan (R-7), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-8), Bill Shuster (R-9), Thomas Marino (R-10), Lou Barletta (R-11), Keith Rothfus (R-12), Charles Dent (D-13), Joseph Pitts (R-16), and Tim Murphy (R-18).

Two newly elected members of the PA delegation are Ryan Costello (R-6), replacing Rep. Gerlach, and Brendan Boyle (D-13), replacing Rep. Schwartz. 



Learn About Economic Development with Four-Day Course in Lancaster

Tuesday October 28th, 2014

If you're interested in learning more about economic development, consider attending the four-day "Economic Development Course in Pennsylvania," offered through Penn State.

The course is designed for everyone from the seasoned economic development professional to the beginning practitioner. Participants learn theoretical and practical approaches to economic development and will benefit from outstanding networking opportunities.

The Economic Development Course in Pennsylvania is accredited by the International Economic Development Council, the nation's largest membership organization for economic developers.

Dates:
December 1-4, 2014

Location:
Eden Resort, Lancaster, Pa.

Cost:
$599 for Pennsylvania residents on or before November 7
$629 for Pennsylvania residents after November 7

For more information:
Click here or on the flyer at right.



Thirty-seven Municipalities to Improve Traffic Safety with Red Light Enforcement Funds

Friday October 24th, 2014
Nearly $6.6 million in Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) funding is being distributed to 37 municipalities statewide to fund 41 safety projects.

Under state law, fines from red light violations at 28 intersections in Philadelphia supply the grant funding. Pennsylvania’s ARLE program aims to improve safety at signalized intersections by providing automated enforcement at locations where data shows red-light running has been an issue.

The law specifies that projects improving safety, enhancing mobility, and reducing congestion can be considered for funding. Municipalities submitted more than 226 applications, totaling approximately $36.6 million.

Projects were selected by an eight-member committee based on criteria such as benefits and effectiveness, cost, local and regional impact, and cost sharing.

This investment brings the total dollars awarded through the ARLE funding program since 2010 to $39.8 million, funding 275 safety projects.

Click here for more information or email ARLE_Grants@pa.gov.


Following is a county-by-county list of ARLE funding recipients, the amount of funding, and a brief description of the projects:

Adams County:

  • Conewago Township – $2,759 to upgrade to LED signal heads at Route 116 (Hanover Road) and Route 2006 (Centennial Road).
  • East Berlin Borough – $23,600 to upgrade to traffic-volume detection technology that improves traffic flow on all four approaches at the intersection of Routes 234 and 194.

Allegheny County:

  • Bethel Park Borough – $294,000 to replace the existing traffic signal at the intersection of South Park Road and Brightwood Road, including countdown pedestrian signals.
  • Brentwood Borough – $162,000 to improve driver and pedestrian safety and mobility at Brownsville Road and Willock Road by upgrading signals, adding countdown pedestrian signals, upgrading signage, and installing ADA-compliant curb ramps.
  • Carnegie Borough – $75,560 for LED traffic-signal upgrades at five borough intersections to optimize traffic-signal operation and reduce energy consumption. 
  • City of Pittsburgh – $120,000 to upgrade and replace the existing traffic signal located at the Bartlett Road and Greenfield Road intersection as well as the Panther Hollow Road and Hobart Street intersection.
  • Coraopolis Borough – $158,000 to upgrade and replace the existing traffic signal at the intersection of Route 51 (4th Avenue) and Main Street.
  • East Deer Township – $42,000 to upgrade to LED traffic signals and LED pedestrian signals at three intersections along Route 1001 (Freeport Road).

Bedford County: Saxton Borough – $38,128 to improve pedestrian crossing markings and upgrade to traffic-volume detection technology that improves traffic flow at the intersection of Route 913 and 8th Street.

Berks County:

  • Laureldale Borough – $22,000 to upgrade two existing school warning devices along Bellevue Avenue for the Muhlenberg School District Junior High School.
  • West Reading Borough – $33,165 for pedestrian safety equipment at the intersections of 4th, 5th and 6th Streets at Penn Avenue.

Bucks County:

  • Doylestown Township – $48,500 to upgrade to traffic-volume detection technology that improves traffic flow at the intersection of Upper State Road and Almshouse Road.
  • Wrightstown Township - $157,020 to optimize the traffic signal timing for the morning, mid-day, and afternoon peak hours, as well add traffic-volume detection at four intersections.

Butler County:

  • Connoquenessing Township – $36,100 to optimize traffic signal timing at four intersections.
  • Cranberry Township - $37,625 to upgrade signal timing with an adaptive traffic-signal control system, which adjusts signal timing based on traffic demand, at six intersections.

Chester County:

  • Caln Township – $290,083 to add signals to the synchronized signal system on Reeceville Road and U.S. 322 within the township.
  • East Whiteland Township – $73,500 to upgrade the township’s signal monitoring and testing ability for their 35 traffic signals.
  • Easttown Township - $49,000 to upgrade to LED traffic and pedestrian signals at eight intersections.
  • Oxford Borough - $8,500 to upgrade to LED traffic signals at the intersection of South Third Street and Hodgson Street.

Clearfield County: Decatur Township – $66,400 to upgrade the signal controller and upgrade to traffic-volume detection technology that improves traffic flow at Route 322 and Irvin Drive and at the intersection of Routes 322 and 53.

Delaware County: Concord Township – $33,150 to improve the existing pedestrian facilities at the intersection of Route 1 (Baltimore Pike) and Evergreen Drive.

Erie County:

  • Amity Township – $4,500 to improve safety by upgrading an existing flashing warning sign to LED lights and add solar technology to reduce energy consumption.
  • North East Borough - $7,572 to replace an outdated traffic signal controller at the intersection of U.S. 20 (Main Street) and Mill Street.

Fayette County: Redstone Township – $90,000 for safety improvements at the traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Stone Church Road.

Greene County: Jefferson Township – $6,638 to upgrade school warning devices located on Route 188.

Huntingdon County: Orbisonia Borough – $180,540 to upgrade the traffic signal and provide safety improvements at the intersection of Routes 522 and 944.

Lancaster County:

  • East Donegal Township – $212,000 for safety improvements and upgrades to the traffic signal at the intersection of River Road and Market Street/Marietta Avenue.
  • Mount Joy Township – $130,000 to provide updated pedestrian signals, upgrade curb ramps, upgrade pushbuttons, and upgrade traffic-volume detection at South Market Street.

Lehigh County: Slatington Borough – $139,600 to upgrade Route 873 (Main Street) and Church Street intersection’s pedestrian signal heads and curb ramps and add technology that improves traffic flow for emergency responders.

Luzerne County:

  • Forty Fort Borough – $37,800 to update the traffic signal at the intersection of Route 11 (Wyoming Avenue), Slocum Street and Welles Street.
  • Freeland Borough - $125,000 to upgrade the traffic signal at the intersection of South Street and Centre Street with a new controller, LED traffic and pedestrian signals, pedestrian push buttons, traffic-volume detection, and technology that improves traffic flow for emergency responders.

Montgomery County:

  • Schwenksville Borough – $73,800 to upgrade pedestrian signal pushbuttons, upgrade LEDs, upgrade traffic-volume detection technology, install countdown pedestrian signals and ADA ramps at the intersection of Main Street, Route 29, Gravel Pike and East Park Avenue/Gamefarm Road, as well as $29,750 for pedestrian signal upgrades, traffic-volume detection installation and ADA ramps at the intersection of Main Street and Gravel Pike.
  • West Conshohocken Borough – $175,700 upgrade eight intersections with new time clocks and new traffic signal cabinets to be used in an adaptive traffic signal system.

Montour County: Danville Borough – $80,637 to install new LED signals, wiring and other equipment, traffic-volume detection and new pedestrian signals at the intersection of U.S. 11 (Walnut Street) and Railroad Street.

Philadelphia:

  • $500,000 to implement a fiber-optic network expansion program to monitor, manage, and improve traffic-signal timing throughout the city.
  • $1 million to improve intersections by adding curb extensions to increase pedestrians’ visibility to motorists and reduce potential vehicle/pedestrian traffic conflicts throughout the city.
  • $1 million to implement up to three roundabouts to improve safety and traffic flow.
  • $1 million to continue to implement traffic-calming measures such as speed humps and updated signage.

Venango County: City of Franklin – $16,500 to improve five intersections along U.S. 322 (13th Street) and Route 8 (Liberty Street) by replacing and upgrading traffic signal timers, as well as upgrade the traffic-volume detection system at the intersection of U.S. 322 (13th Street) and Atlantic Avenue.

Westmoreland County: Mount Pleasant Township – $4,250 to improve pedestrian safety at the intersection of Routes 981 and 2007 near the Mount Pleasant Area School District High School with school ahead flashing warning signs.



Consumer Price Index Rises 1.7% from Sept. '13 to Sept. '14

Thursday October 23rd, 2014

PSATS often receives questions about the annual cost-of-living increase. This figure is based on changes in the Consumer Price Index, which rose  1.7 percent nationwide between September 2013 and September 2014.

The total change over the previous 12 months is used by many to determine pay increases for the following year.

Click here for more about the CPI, which is adjusted each month.

 

 

 




 



Nominate Projects for Local Government Excellence Awards by Nov. 28

Wednesday October 8th, 2014

Has your township found a creative way to improve the community? If so, consider nominating a project for the 2015 Gover­nor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence by Friday, November 28.

Presented each April during Local Government Week, the awards recognize townships and officials in the following categories:

  • Building community partnerships
  • Responding to adversity
  • Promoting community/economic revitalization
  • Innovative community/governmental initiatives
  • Fiscal accountability and best management practices
  • Innovative planning and sound land use practices
  • Intergovernmental cooperation
  • Information technology

Townships must submit a narrative about the project that includes:

  • The name of the nominated township and county, any other participating municipalities and their counties, and a contact person’s name, street address, phone number, and email address.
  • The category from the list above that the project falls into.
  • A description of the project.
  • An explanation of how the project  resolved a problem, addressed a need, or improved the community-at-large. Provide quantifiable results, if available.
  • A list of everyone who participated in the project and how they helped.

Submit nominations here. The awards will be presented in Harrisburg during Local Government Week in April.