PSATS and Local Government Groups Testify on Changes to Act 47 Law
On Wednesday, April 9, PSATS joined with other municipal associations to testify before the Pennsylvania Senate Local Government Committee on proposed amendments to the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act (Act 47 of 1987).
PSATS Assistant Executive Director Elam M. Herr and representatives from the Pennsylvania Municipal League, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners, and the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs provided joint testimony on Senate Bill 1157 and House Bill 1773.
The groups commented that the legislation attempts to change the outcome of fiscally challenged communities without wading into the tough causes of Act 47 distress. They highlighted the need to offer more support to and flexibility for municipalities before they enter Act 47 status and opposed the concept and process outlined in the legislation for disincorporation of municipalities.
PennDOT Accepting Applications for Transportation Improvement Projects
PennDOT is accepting applications for funding for transportation improvement projects under the Multimodal Transportation Fund created by Act 89 of 2013, the transportation funding package.
The agency will make available $20 million in Fiscal Year 2014-15 to distribute to successful applicants. Eligible projects can cost between $100,000 and $3 million and require a 30 percent match from local sources.
Job Hunting? See Municipal Openings in the PSATS Classifieds!
The PSATS Online Classifieds appears here at www.psats.org and in the monthly Pa. Township News magazine. The listings change frequently and include positions open, items for sale, items wanted to buy, and requests for proposals.
We currently have job listings for a roadmaster and township manager.
Click here to see the details, along with items for sale, and spread the word to anyone you know looking for municipal work. Check back frequently, and if you're a municipality or municipal entity, contact Brenda Wilt at email@example.com or 717-763-0930 to find out how the PSATS Classifieds, online and in the Pa. Township News, could work for you.
Township Supervisors Tout Local Benefits of Transportation Funding Law
David Sanko, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, said April 3 that townships and other local governments are already reaping the benefits of Act 89 of 2013, Pennsylvania’s new transportation funding law, less than five months after its passage.
And the timing of that law could not have been better. Sanko, who spoke alongside Gov. Tom Corbett, state Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch, and representatives of business and labor organizations during a news conference in Harrisburg, said townships took a huge financial hit with winter storms that started early and overstayed their welcome. (See photo below.)
The costs — for salt, antiskid, overtime, and equipment maintenance — piled up as fast as the snow,” Sanko said. “And now we’re dealing with the aftermath: potholes and other road deterioration from snow, ice, and a drawn-out freeze-thaw cycle.”
In March, townships saw an 8 percent increase in their liquid fuels payments — money they use for road repairs and road-related expenses — for the first time in years. Under Act 89, that revenue is slated to increase by about 60 percent over the next five years.
Act 89 also provides for various other types of funding that will help townships improve their roads, bridges, and more. They include:
- significant boost, from $3 million to $30 million, for dirt, gravel, and low-volume roads;
- an innovative bridge bundling program and funds for traffic signal upgrades; and
- an increase in the prevailing wage threshold for road projects, which stretches dollars further and allows more projects to be completed.
“Act 89 means a lot of things to a lot of people,” Sanko said. “At the local level, as at the state level, it means safer roads and bridges, more jobs, and a better quality of life.”
He highlighted examples in two diverse townships in Franklin County. Metal Township, population 1,866, plans to use the increased funding to replace a dangerous, single-lane creek crossing, made of concrete, with a much safer two-lane, aluminum span.
And in Washington Township, population 14,009, stalled plans for a bypass could be coming back to life. The project will give motorists a way around the often-congested State Route 16, saving them time, money, and frustration.
Similar projects, on a scale from small to large, will be possible statewide.
“Timed traffic signals will keep traffic flowing, meaning fewer minutes spent waiting at red lights and less gas wasted,” Sanko said. “With better funding, roads can be constructed, or improved, based on the best design, rather than the cheapest solution.”
Those and other transportation projects will help create local jobs, too.
“Job growth will start in construction and continue in related fields,” Sanko said. “Plus, a better infrastructure is going to draw more business and industry to communities all across the state.”
Ultimately, Sanko said, Act 89 will have more impact on local transportation infrastructure than any other measure in memory.
“Townships have spent a lot of time worrying about the future of our roads and bridges, struggling just to maintain the status quo and keep residents safe without major property tax increases,” Sanko said. “Now, thanks to Act 89, they have the ability to plan for the future — and I’m very glad to say it’s looking like it will be a bright one.”
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The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors represents Pennsylvania’s 1,454 townships of the second class and is committed to preserving and strengthening township government and securing greater visibility and involvement for townships in the state and federal political arenas. Townships of the second class cover 95 percent of Pennsylvania’s land mass and represent more residents — 5.5 million — than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth.
PSATS Executiver Director David Sanko speaks during the PennDOT news conference held April 4, 2014, to discuss the benefits of Act 89 of 2013, Pennsylvania's new transportation funding law. Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch and Gov. Tom Corbett are shown on the right.
Natural Gas Impact Fee Having a Positive Impact on Townships
On Friday, April 4, Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced the latest collection numbers for the commonwealth’s natural gas impact fee. In the latest round, collections are expected to increase from $195 million in 2013 to $224.5 million in 2014.
Revenues from the impact fee, made possible through Act 13 of 2012, are benefiting local governments throughout the commonwealth, particularly those in the Marcellus Shale region, which are investing in a variety of things — from purchasing playground equipment to hiring new police officers — to benefit residents.
The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors supports the local impact fee and welcomes the positive impact it’s having throughout the state.
In response to Gov. Corbett’s announcement, PSATS Executive Director David M. Sanko issued the following statement:
"Townships across Pennsylvania got great news on Friday when the commonwealth announced that it expects to collect $224.5 million in 2014 through the state’s natural gas impact fee.
“The funding is doing exactly what Gov. Corbett and lawmakers intended: It’s helping townships in every corner of the state, especially those in the Marcellus Shale region. Today, these communities are able to invest in services and projects that, until the impact fee came along, were financially out of their reach.
“Our members tell us they’re now able to buy new playground equipment, hire new police officers, help their volunteer fire companies stay afloat, and update their infrastructure with new storm pipes and repaved roads.
“The funding, coupled with the $2.3 billion in new transportation money, is providing unprecedented revenues to improve Pennsylvania and its municipalities. Ultimately, though, the biggest winners are Pennsylvanians.”
PSATS represents the 1,454 townships of the second class across Pennsylvania. Townships, in turn, represent 5.5 million Pennsylvanians, more than any other type of political subdivision in the commonwealth, and they cover 95 percent of the commonwealth’s land mass.
Local Govs Invited to Participate in Weather Exercise to Test Emergency Readiness
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is encouraging all municipalities to take part in the 2014 Spring Hazardous Weather Emergency Preparedness Exercise May 12 and 13.
This exercise is designed to test the readiness of all participating counties, municipalities, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers, and other community organizations.
This year’s event will coincide with the National Guard’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise, which will test the Guard’s ability to support a civilian response to major emergencies.
The focus will be on emergency operations center management, communications, emergency public information and warning, military support to civilian authorities, and critical resource logistics and distribution.
Townships should also contact their county emergency management coordinator to coordinate their participation in the exercise.
Local emergency management agencies can be found here or in the telephone book under the “Local Government” section.
For more information, contact your county emergency management agency or Aaron Rhone, PEMA, at (717) 651-2714, email firstname.lastname@example.org.