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If You Can't Measure Opioid Overdoses, You Can't Improve the Response

If You Can't Measure Opioid Overdoses, You Can't Improve the Response | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Chuck Kiessling - the current president of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association - can’t tell you how many opioid overdose deaths the 67 members of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association handled last year. 


It’s not because there are too many to count — but that’s probably true, too, he said. It’s because there’s not enough manpower to finalize the association’s annual report. His best estimate lies around 4,880 statewide for the whole year, almost 240 more than the federal Drug Enforcement Administration detailed in a July report fueled by coroners’ reports. 


 And that’s a problem, DEA officials say. 


“Our report, it quantifies what drug is responsible for deaths,” said Patrick Trainor, special agent for the DEA in Philadelphia. “In some counties, that drives a lot of our enforcement activities.” 


It took Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier to launch a study of county 911 calls to determine just how much the epidemic was impacting the community. Lozier was inspired by voters he met while campaigning door-to-door in 2015. Many begged him to do something about opioids. 


As elected officials in Pennsylvania, coroners are required to report a cause for every death. That is where the DEA is running into a brick wall trying to figure how what drugs are killing people. 


Trainor said some coroners say they’ve been told by the state coroners association not to release the information, but officials from the association say that isn’t true. 


“Some coroners are very, very cooperative in giving us data, and there are some that are not,” Trainor said. “Some we have had to serve with subpoenas to get stuff. Why? We don’t always get an explanation. Because they’re busy, some tell us.” 


Kiessling, a nurse and paramedic who has served as coroner of Lycoming County for 18 years and is the current president of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association, said that’s true. Most elected coroners are part time, at best, he said, and as more and more people die from opioid overdoses, the workload gets heavier. 


Kiessling said he doesn’t understand the emphasis on overdose death data. “The people that make it to my office, we can’t do anything for,” he said. “It isn’t going to impact the living.” 


But it is, Trainor said. The data helps law enforcement and public health officials understand what drugs are killing people and what areas need the most help. 


“It helps us to identify which areas are the hardest hit,” he said. “Which counties might need more Narcan than others, which counties are in need of more treatment resources. That report, it quantifies what drug is responsible for the deaths.” 


Further Reading: 

“Pennsylvania Underestimates Death Due to Opioids by More Than Half!”; http://sco.lt/5mMtVp


“The Other Cost of the Opioid Epidemic: Increased Taxes”; http://bit.ly/opiodsandtaxes

johnmacknewtown's insight:
It’s a disgrace that Mr. Kiessling does not see the benefits of accurately reporting drug overdoses and believes that such data “isn’t going to impact the living.” In a paper published in the Archives of Pathological & Laboratory Medicine, the authors conclude that “It is foreseeable that the public health role of medical examiners and coroners may continue to grow and that, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, public health impact will surpass criminal justice as the major focus of medicolegal death investigation in the United States.”
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News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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Chipotle Planning Newtown Location, But Has Not Yet Submitted Any Plans to Township

Chipotle Planning Newtown Location, But Has Not Yet Submitted Any Plans to Township | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Chipotle has plans to open a location in Newtown, company representatives have confirmed to Patch.

But key specifics — like where and when — are not currently available, said Erin Wolford, senior director of external communications at Chipotle.

Wolford said the company will be opening a Mexican grill locally but "we're most likely looking at next year."

Wolford said she had no details to share relating to where specifically the restaurant will be opening. "Stay patient people of Newtown! We hope to get there soon," Wolford said.

Newtown Township manager Micah Lewis confirmed on Tuesday that the chain has not yet submitted an application to the municipality.

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Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Hires Philadelphia Captain as Newtown's Next Police Chief

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Hires Philadelphia Captain as Newtown's Next Police Chief | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The township will soon have a new police chief.

 

At the Jan. 9 meeting, the board of supervisors hired Philadelphia police captain John Hearn to head the township's 31-officer police department.

 

In a quick vote without discussion or debate, the board unanimously approved an employment agreement with Hearn.

 

Voting for the police chief’s contract were: Chairman Phil Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, along with Supervisors John Mack, Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher.

 

Although Hearn’s name was not publicly disclosed at the supervisor’s meeting, BucksLocalNews.comhas confirmed that he will take over the position sometime this spring after he wraps up his job with the Philadelphia Police Department, where he has worked for nearly 30 years.

 

Once on board in Newtown, the 52-year-old Hearn, who lives in Northampton Township, will oversee 31 officers, commanders and civilian staff members along with a $5.27-million budget this year.

He’ll replace former Chief Rick Pasqualini, who retired in July. In the interim, Lt. Jason Harris has been serving as acting police chief.

 

Capt. Hearn’s resume is both extensive and impressive.

Since 2017, he has been the commanding officer of the 14th District in Northwest Philadelphia, which covers the Chestnut Hill and Germantown sections, as well as East and West Mt. Airy.

Prior to that, he was a lieutenant for 12 years with the Highway Patrol, a specialized unit in the Philadelphia Police Department.

 

While there, he had extensive experience with logistics, security and training.

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Arcadia Green Three Peat: Sues Newtown Again!

Arcadia Green Three Peat: Sues Newtown Again! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township supervisors denied Arcadia at Newtown Holdings’ proposal for a 76-home development off Buck Road and the Newtown Bypass in November (read “Arcadia Green PRD Three Peat: Denied Again!”), but the developer argued in a recent appeal the plans actually are approved because it did not receive a signed, certified copy of the decision within an allotted timeframe.

 

The rule of three has held true — a prospective Newtown Township developer has submitted three plans for homes, denied through three votes by supervisors over a three-year period.

 

And, for the third time, Arcadia at Newtown Holdings has gone to county court to contest the board’s denial.

 

But in its most recent appeal, filed Dec. 21, the Philadelphia-based developer argued that Newtown Township actually has approved its plans for a walkable 76-residence community on 21.47 acres off Buck Road and the Newtown Bypass. Arcadia attorney John VanLuvanee said his client did not receive a signed copy of township supervisors’ unanimous “no” decision within the required window, according to court documents. Without a decision by the deadline, the plans are approved by default, the developer argued in the appeal.

 

Arcadia presented its plans to supervisors over four planned residential development hearings between early August and late September, and the board voted down the project Nov. 14, within a 60-day window expiring Nov. 25. Though township Solicitor David Sander mailed the decision to VanLuvanee on Nov. 24, Arcadia contends the document was not certified, and supervisors did not approve it at a public meeting until mid-December.

 

If the court upholds the board’s vote, VanLuvanee said a referee should be appointed to receive additional evidence to review in determining whether supervisors acted in “bad faith” voting at all.

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Term "Redskin" is Offensive, Neshaminy Teacher & Former Student Playwickian Editor Testify

Term "Redskin" is Offensive, Neshaminy Teacher & Former Student Playwickian Editor Testify | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

District teachers union President Tara Huber and former student and student newspaper editor Gillian McGoldrick said they consider the name Neshaminy uses for its sports teams racist.

 

Neshaminy School District teachers union President Tara Huber was told by Superintendent Joseph Jones III that she should “find work elsewhere” when she brought up the “Redskin” name and logo the district uses for its sports teams, Huber testified Tuesday during a Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission hearing on the issue.

 

During the second day of a weeklong series of hearings being held at Bucks County Community College in Newtown Township, Huber said she brought up the name issue to Jones last year after a meeting of a district committee designed to promote workplace diversity.

 

“I asked him how can we be having discussions about workplace diversity while at the same time having a mascot that is racist,” Huber testified.

 

At one point during their talk, Jones told her she should “find work elsewhere” if she felt that way, Huber added.

 

During her lengthy testimony Tuesday, Huber recounted the long history of the “Redskin” issue as it related to the Neshaminy student newspaper The Playwickian. Huber, an English teacher at Neshaminy School, was faculty advisor to the newspaper from 2000 to 2016.

 

The newspaper first published an editorial opposing the use of the name in 2001, and then two more during Huber’s later years as advisor. In 2013, a majority of the editorial staff voted to ban use of the name from the paper. The district eventually imposed a policy that the name could be deleted from stories but not from submitted letters or opinion pieces, Huber said.

 

McGoldrick, a 2016 Neshaminy graduate and a junior at Temple University, was on the Playwickian staff all four years of high school and was editor-in-chief her last year. She had started attending Neshaminy schools as a sixth-grader after going to Catholic schools before that.

 

She testified that her opinion about the use of the name changed in 2013 during a newsroom debate on the issue.

 

“I just accepted it at first and didn’t think much about it,” she said. “I knew it was a big tradition. During this debate I started on the side that was defending use of the name. Then, somebody on the other side compared use of the Redskin name to (another slur), and that made me just get up and change sides. It felt like I had been lied to, that I had been bamboozled into thinking use of ‘Redskin’ was OK and I had been accepting it for so long.”

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

 

The suit from the state commission came after a 2013 lawsuit filed by Donna Fann-Boyle, the mother of a Neshaminy student. The suit said her child was Native American and suffered educational and other harm due to the "mascot." Ms. Fann-Boyle is scheduled to testify today (Jan 10, 2019).

 

Related Articles:

  • “Public Hearing to Remove Neshaminy High School's Discriminatory Mascot Name & Image”; http://sco.lt/5qxRbt
  • “Use of Term "Redskin" by Neshaminy HS is Not Racist, Neshaminy Witness Testifies”; http://sco.lt/6xn5KD 
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The Top Ten Local News Stories in 2018: “Curated” by John Mack

The Top Ten Local News Stories in 2018: “Curated” by John Mack | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The following are the TOP TEN viewed local news stories in 2018 in rank order. These stories were “Scooped” (i.e., curated*) by John Mack as being of interest to Newtown residents. See all curated news here. https://www.scoop.it/t/newtown-news

 

5 Doctors Are Charged With Taking Kickbacks for Fentanyl Prescriptions - Lock 'em Up! http://sco.lt/667BBp

 

Doors Blocked With Tables To Stop Council Rock North Walkout, Students Say http://sco.lt/8dyQ65

 

Bucks County Initiates Smart911 with RapidSOS to Quickly Serve Callers http://sco.lt/504cQz

 

Arcadia Green Sues Newtown Township http://sco.lt/7Ns6wz

 

Craft Beer Brewery, Food Trucks and Fun Coming to Newtown Commons This Summer http://sco.lt/94LdU9

 

EWG Report: Perfluorinated Pollutant (PFAS) Contamination of Water Spreading http://sco.lt/4xLDiD

 

In God We Trust. Lower Southampton Supervisors Not So Much! http://sco.lt/7anRk9

 

Opioids Not Better Than Acetaminophen at Reducing Pain to Improve Function for Chronic Back, Knee and Hip Pain http://sco.lt/6GPlwn

 

How Much Does a Family of Four Need To Earn To Live Comfortably In Bucks County? http://sco.lt/9IDSML

 

Falls Wawa Developer Wins Case Brought by Local Service Station But “SLAPPs” a Lawsuit Against Residents Who Spoke Up at Public Meeting http://sco.lt/5UZzxB

 

 

* A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on specific issues online. I curate stories published in local and national media that I believe are of special interest to Newtown residents. Many of these stories relate to issues discussed or acted upon by Newtown Township Supervisors.

 

I use the Scoop.It platform to capture and organize these stories (news articles) online. Each curated story is called a “Scoop,” which is a shortened version of the article. Within the Scoop is a link to the original, long version of the article plus links to related articles, blog posts, etc. Some Scoops include my personal insight.

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Newtown Township Appoints Members of the Newly Created Human Relations Commission

Newtown Township Appoints Members of the Newly Created Human Relations Commission | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At last night’s Reorganization meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) appointed 5 people to the newly created Human Relations Commission (HRC), which was established by the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance passed by the BOS on November 28, 2018 (read “Newtown Township BOS 2018 Accomplishments” http://bit.ly/BOS2018accomplishments)

 

Here are the members of the Commission:

 

  1. Mercy Ingraham
  2. Aamir Nayeem
  3. Joe O'Neill
  4. Angelic Ranck
  5. Amber Ray

 

Thank you Mercy, Aamir, Joe, Angelic, and Amber for volunteering!

 

Learn more about the Commission members here.

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Use of Term "Redskin" by Neshaminy HS is Not Racist, Neshaminy Witness Testifies

Use of Term "Redskin" by Neshaminy HS is Not Racist, Neshaminy Witness Testifies | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Monday was the first day of a week-long series of hearings at Bucks County Community College on the school district’s name for its sports teams.

The term “Redskin” to refer to Native Americans is not racist in origin, a witness for the Neshaminy School District testified Monday during the first day of a week-long series of hearings being held by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission at Bucks County Community College in Newtown Township.

The commission filed a lawsuit in 2015 against the district for its use of the name for its sports teams and is seeking to force Neshaminy to change it.

Andre Billeaudeaux, who worked with many Native American tribes during his years in the Coast Guard and has written a book “How the Redskins Got Their Name,” testified that the name comes from the former practice of many tribes — including local ones — of applying sacred red paint to their skin before battle.

“Tribes of this region called themselves Redskins,” Billeaudeaux said. “Redskins has many uses, and can be used in a derogatory way, but not from a native’s perspective. This is who they are. This is what they did. The word Redskin is not a racial slur, and Native Americans support it as a name for sports teams.”

The PHRC filed its suit against the district two years after a Neshaminy parent filed one on behalf of her son that was voluntarily dismissed.

On questioning from commission attorney Lisa Knight, Billeaudeux said the imagery on Neshaminy’s uniforms should be modified to be more “region specific.”

During a break from the hearing, he added that the word “warrior” should probably be added to make the team name “Redskin Warrior.”

The public hearings are scheduled to continue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day this week in the Rollins Center at the BCCC Newtown Township campus, 275 Swamp Road. Commission spokeswoman Renee Martin said the PHRC will not issue a ruling until weeks or months after the hearings are concluded, and that the school district can appeal to Commonwealth Court if the ruling is not in its favor.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

I attended this meeting to see how the PA Human Rights Commission (HRC) operates and meet people who may be of help to the Newtown Township HRC (for more on that, read "

Newtown Township BOS 2018 Accomplishments").

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Newtown Township BOS 2018 Accomplishments

Newtown Township BOS 2018 Accomplishments | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The following are some notable accomplishments of the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) in 2018. I am proud to have been involved in these decisions along with my fellow BOS members. I look forward to a prosperous and safe New Year!

 

Find the list here: http://bit.ly/BOS2018accomplishments 

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Public Hearing to Remove Neshaminy High School's Discriminatory Mascot Name & Image

Public Hearing to Remove Neshaminy High School's Discriminatory Mascot Name & Image | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A public hearing has been set in the lawsuit against the Neshaminy School District over the high school's "Redskins" mascot.

 

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, which enforces state laws that prohibit discrimination, has filed suit against the district for the team name and related Native American imagery.

 

The hearing, which is open for public viewing, will be held Jan. 7-11, starting at 9 a.m. each day in the Solarium Room at Bucks County Community College. The college is at 275 Swamp Rd. in Newtown.

 

For years, critics have decried the nickname, calling on the school board to change it because of its origins as a racial slur against Native Americans. The PHRC's lawsuit contends that the name and imagery discriminate against Native American students and create a hostile environment in the district's schools.

 

The suit from the state commission came after a 2013 lawsuit filed by the mother of a Neshaminy student. The suit said her child was Native American and suffered educational and other harm due to the mascot.

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Bucks Towns, Including Newtown, Aim to Boost Local Bird Populations in Celebration of 100-Year Anniversary of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Bucks Towns, Including Newtown, Aim to Boost Local Bird Populations in Celebration of 100-Year Anniversary of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Municipal officials gathered at the Bucks County Audubon Society on Wednesday [December 19, 2018] to discuss ways to promote bird species, while hearing about the curtailing of federal policies designed to protect birds.

 

“This just brings it home,” said McGill, who is board president of the Churchville Nature Center. “That nothing takes care of itself. We’ve got to take action. We’ve got to step up.”

 

The 10,000-foot view of what McGill was talking about was the 100-year anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the nation’s primary law offering protections for birds.

 

According to the Audubon Society, more than 1,000 species are covered by the law, which makes it illegal to kill or harm them, and requires property owners and companies to take action to prevent “predictable and avoidable deaths.”

 

But last year the Department of the Interior issued a guidance that reversed a century of federal policy, ruling it would no longer pursue actions under the act when an entity harmed or killed a bird unintentionally. Oil companies stand to benefit the most from the reversal.

 

While the national Audubon Society is one of the groups challenging the new policy in court, its subchapters are taking a more harmonious approach. The Bucks County chapter, which is headquartered on a 110-acre property in a bucolic section of Solebury, was one of the chapters that followed the national organization’s lead in declaring 2018 the “Year of the Bird,” and sought to reach out to municipalities to raise awareness of bird protection.

 

While the national Audubon Society is one of the groups challenging the new policy in court, its subchapters are taking a more harmonious approach. The Bucks County chapter, which is headquartered on a 110-acre property in a bucolic section of Solebury, was one of the chapters that followed the national organization’s lead in declaring 2018 the “Year of the Bird,” and sought to reach out to municipalities to raise awareness of bird protection.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Newtown Township has been a designated bird town community for many years, regularly sponsoring events to promote conservation. In 2019 the Newtown Environmental Action Committee (EAC) and Pennsylvania Audubon’s Society will be jointly developing and implementing a new program promoting the use of native plants to support bird population. At the November 28, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting, a plaque was presented to George Skladany, member of the EAC, to commemorate 2018 as the hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, protecting migratory birds for many decades. The Township also passed the “Year of the Bird” Proclamation. More on that here.

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Council Rock School District Residents Likely to See Property Tax Hike for the 2019-2020 School Year

Council Rock School District Residents Likely to See Property Tax Hike for the 2019-2020 School Year | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Council Rock School District residents could be facing a higher than normal property tax hike for the 2019-20 school year that starts July 1.

School board members reached consensus at a recent finance committee meeting to have administrators apply to the state for pension and special education exceptions that, if granted, would allow the district to raise taxes higher than the 2.3 percent Act 1 Index normal maximum set for the district in 2019-20.

While emphasizing they won’t necessarily use the exceptions and will work as usual to keep any tax increase as low as possible, board members and administrators said it made sense to give themselves the flexibility to raise more revenue via taxes if it ends up being needed. District Business Administration Director Robert Reinhart recommended applying for the exceptions.

Reinhart is retiring March 14 and won’t be around when the board votes on a final budget and its accompanying tax increase — if any — in June. William Stone, now the top business administrator in the Souderton Area School District, is starting as Council Rock’s new business administration director Jan. 28 and will work with Reinhart for several weeks on the budget.

It doesn’t makes sense to tie the new director’s hands by limiting his ability to raise revenue as he develops the final budget, school board members said at the finance committee meeting. Reinhart added that the district’s fund balance, or savings account, stands at $21 million and he would not recommend drawing from it as a way to balance the 2019-20 budget.

“It’s better to have it if you need it,” board member Jerold Grupp said of applying for the exceptions.

“It’s reasonable to leave that door open,” fellow member Mark Byelich added.

A 2.3-percent tax increase would equate to 2.843 mills, or $109 for the owner of a property assessed at the school district average of $38,400. It would generate about $4 million in revenue, Reinhart said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related articles:

  • “School Property Taxes in Aren't going Anywhere But Up”; http://sco.lt/5JhQ7F
  • “Council Rock Raising Taxes Again! Average Homeowner Will Pay $112 per Year MORE for Total of $4,796”; http://sco.lt/8e8W6z
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Median Household Income in the Philly Suburbs is Not Too Shabby According to Census Data!

Median Household Income in the Philly Suburbs is Not Too Shabby According to Census Data! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

New numbers recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show how household incomes in the Philadelphia region compare to the nation overall. The agency released its "2013-2017 American Community Survey Five-year Estimates" this month, showing that overall, income has increased across the country.

The nation's median household income from 2013-17 was $57,652. That was up 8.7 percent from 2008 to 2012 when the median household took home $53,046. That number includes all households, including people who live alone.

Of the five Eastern Pennsylvania counties that comprise Philadelphia and its suburbs, Chester County had the highest household income. Households in Chester County make $92,417 a year, the data shows.

Here's a look at household incomes for all five Philly-area counties:

Bucks - $82,031
Chester - $92,417
Delaware - $69,839
Montgomery - $84,791
Philadelphia -$40,649

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Newtown Township Supervisors Approve Final $13M Budget for 2019. Read Their Lips: No New Taxes!

Newtown Township Supervisors Approve Final $13M Budget for 2019. Read Their Lips: No New Taxes! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

After less than 15 minutes of discussion, the board of supervisors approved the final $13,002,335 general fund operating budget for the 2019 fiscal year beginning Jan. 1.

 

The proposed package, which was approved in a 5-0 vote at the Dec. 12 meeting, is a little more than three percent higher than the 2018 budget but includes no property or other tax hike.

 

Voting to approve the 2019 final budget were: Chairman Phil Calabro, along with Supervisors Linda Bobrin, Dennis Fisher, Kyle Davis and John Mack.

 

According to the budget, Newtown will end the 2018 fiscal year on Dec. 31 with an estimated budget surplus of $2,538,208, which is about what was earlier projected.

 

However, Supervisors Davis and Mack questioned whether this so called ‘net fund balance’ is adequate to ensure the township’s future financial stability, of if a higher amount is needed on the books to ensure a healthy fiscal picture for township auditors.

 

“It’s a concern, it’s getting lower and lower every year,” stated Mack.

 

Last year at this time, the township ended fiscal year 2017 with a $3.14 million net fund balance.

 

Chairman Calabro also expressed his concerns of the dwindling surplus, noting, “We need to find ways of raising revenues in the future.”

 

Like many municipalities, Newtown relies mostly on the Earned Income Tax for most its revenues instead of traditional property taxes, as some local governments impose, such as neighboring Lower Makefield and Middletown Townships.

 

Newtown’s EIT accounts for more than half of all revenue collections.

 

In 2019, the EIT is expected to haul in about $7 million, which is slightly higher than the year-end projected numbers for 2018.

 

The Earned Income Tax is by far the largest revenue generator in the budget and is collected on the wages of residents, whether they work in or outside the township, as well as those non-residents who are employed in Newtown Township.

 

Under state law, the tax cannot exceed one percent of a person’s pay. Newtown Township’s EIT is one percent, and if a non-resident’s home municipality doesn’t have one, then Newtown gets the entire amount which it splits with the Council Rock School District.

 

If a non-resident’s home municipality does impose an EIT, then Newtown must split it with that local government.

 

However, over the years more Bucks County municipalities have enacted an EIT, which has affected Newtown’s collections.

 

Another substantial revenue generator is the real estate transfer tax which property buyers and sellers must pay. The township splits those collections with the state.

 

That tax is expected to generate about $800,000 in 2019, up slightly from this fiscal year’s anticipated collection of $719,250 by Dec. 31.

 

But the township’s total real estate transfer tax collections will be about $22,000 lower than original expectations for the current budget year because of lagging home sales.

 

During his budget presentation to the supervisors in October, Lewis had stated that anticipated future shortfalls in revenues “will become more evident with capital expenditures that are needed.”

 

The township’s seven-member finance committee is already targeting what areas to look at for increasing revenues and cutting costs.

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Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis

Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Taking the lead of Bucks County and other state, county and local governments, the board of supervisors voted 4-1 to approve filing a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry for manufacturing, distributing and promoting opioids.

 

At the Dec. 12 meeting, Chairman Phil Calabro, joined by fellow Democrats John Mack, Linda Bobrin and Dennis Fisher voted to approve hiring the New York City-based law firm of Marc J. Bern & Partners, LLP to file the civil action in Bucks County Common Pleas Court.

 

Republican Supervisors Kyle Davis cast the dissenting vote.

 

The law firm, which specializes in national personal injury and mass tort cases, will be assisted by attorneys from Cordisco & Saile, LLC, which is based in Doylestown.

 

“Basically Newtown is making a stand in principle against these manufacturers,” exclaimed Chairman Calabro. “We’re making a statement.”

 

Newtown Township will not be charged any attorney fees for filing the action, and the law firms will work on a contingency basis which will has yet to be negotiated.

 

According to township solicitor David Sander, that fee could be as high as 50-percent of any eventual damages awarded, but is usually around 30-35 percent.

 

He explained that the suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

 

“The action is based on the current opioid crises that not only Newtown Township but the rest of the county finds itself in the grasp of,” Sander noted.

 

“Newtown should stand up and take its place among the many, many other large cities, including Pittsburgh,” he added.

 

In this area, Philadelphia, as well as Bucks and Delaware counties, have already filed separate lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies that make and promote prescription opioid drugs.

 

Meanwhile, Bensalem Township became the first local government in the region to file a similar civil action relating to the crises. More on that here.

 

These suits allege that manufacturers misled the public about the dangers of prescription opioids and that the drug companies have disregarded their obligation to monitor distribution in the communities and halt any suspicious sales.

 

“The pharmaceutical industry lied when they said [these drugs] were not habit forming,” claimed Supervisor Mack before Newtown Township’s vote.

 

Although several supervisors acknowledged that any damages which could eventually come to Newtown Township might be minuscule, the money could be used for treatment.

 

“Whatever we get, we’ll put it to good use,” Calabro pointed out, “I don’t see a downside to this [lawsuit].”

 

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Sit, Stay Doggie Day Care Allowed to Stay Says Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board

Sit, Stay Doggie Day Care Allowed to Stay Says Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Sit. Stay. has the township zoning hearing board’s approval to continue offering doggie day care and boarding services at the Roberts family farm in Newtown Township.

 

The dogs — and their watchers — have had their day before township zoners, and a Newtown Township kennel that came under scrutiny earlier this year can stay.

 

At its latest meeting, the township zoning hearing board voted 4-1 to issue doggie day care and boarding business Sit. Stay. two variances from local code, allowing it to continue operations as a permitted local business on the Roberts family farm off Washington Crossing Road.

 

Sit. Stay. opened its doors 15 years ago on a client-by-client basis and grew over time into a larger business servicing an average of 50 dogs each weekday between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., owner Heather Roberts said.

 

Roberts said she learned earlier this year that Sit. Stay. was not grandfathered in under the property’s agricultural uses, but rather the 18.8-acre farm property was shy of a 25-acre minimum space requirement for kennels. A building used for sheltering dogs was also 95 feet short of a required 300-foot setback from offsite homes.

 

A few others neighbors opposed the variances, saying barking dogs on the property were a nuisance and could negatively impact resale value for their homes. Roberts said it was a noise complaint to the township’s zoning office that led her to learn Sit. Stay. would need zoning relief for the separate space and setback matters.

 

Resident Clara Bonavita, a neighbor who opposed the variances, said she could hear the barking “incessantly” starting this April.

 

Township supervisors opted this fall to cut several sections from local code governing “excessive and unnecessary” noise, including from animals or birds making continuous noise longer than 15 minutes if it is deemed to have “annoyed” people (Supervisor Mack voted "nay" - for more on that, read “Board of Supervisors Decimates Noise Ordinance”). Officials described the section as “subjective” and difficult to enforce, in that dogs often would stop barking between the time they got a call and arrived on the scene.

 

Though Roberts said no one has complained about barking dogs directly to her, she said, if neighbors have complaints in the future, “They know where I am, they know where to find me.”

 

Further Reading:

johnmacknewtown's insight:

At the upcoming "Reorganization Meeting," a few new members of the ZHB will be named by the Board of Supervisors. If you are interested in becoming a member, resumes will be accepted until
December 24, 2018. Please submit a letter of interest and resume to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940, by email to
oliviak@newtownpa.gov, or by fax at (215) 968-5368. Members get paid a small stipend for each meeting.

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Volunteers Needed for the NEW Newtown Township Human Relations Commission

Volunteers Needed for the NEW Newtown Township Human Relations Commission | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

On November 28, 2018, Newtown Township became the FIRST Township in Bucks County to pass an Ordinance Definition prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Specifically, the ordinance, a copy of which you can download here, safeguards the right of citizens to obtain and hold employment and public accommodation and to secure housing accommodation and commercial property "without regard to actual or perceived race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids, and to have equal access to postsecondary educational institutions."

The Ordinance becomes effective immediately upon the appointment of a Human Relations Commission by the Newtown Board of Supervisors ( BOS Definition). The Commission will handle complaints through a fact-finding conference with the parties of the dispute in order to resolve the dispute without the need to hire lawyers or go to court.

The Commission will consist of no fewer than three and no more than five members, who will serve overlapping terms of three years each. Members must be residents of the Township or individuals who work full-time within Newtown Township. No voting member of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission can hold any office in any political party.

Members of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission serve without salary but may be paid expenses incurred in the performance of their duties, as approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Members of the Commission must attend training and education seminars or sessions to acquaint themselves with the functioning of the Commission under the ordinance, as well as the terms, conditions and provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the operation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Send in Your Letter of Interest!

If you are interested in serving on the Commission, please submit a letter of interest and your resume (or short bio) by December 28, 2018. Send to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940. Or by email to oliviak@newtownpa.gov, or by fax to (215) 968-5368.

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If Excessive Noise Regulations Fall in Newtown Township and Officials No Longer Enforce Them, Will Residents Make a Sound?

If Excessive Noise Regulations Fall in Newtown Township and Officials No Longer Enforce Them, Will Residents Make a Sound? | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Township supervisors could vote Wednesday evening to remove four sections of township code that on paper are meant to deter “excessive and unnecessary” noise but in practice often are subjective and difficult for officials to enforce.

 

Supervisors are poised to decide Wednesday evening whether to pass an ordinance axing four sections from the local code governing “excessive and unnecessary” noise and other nuisances.

 

With the board’s approval, gone would be a section deeming it unlawful for people or businesses to make sounds “physically annoying to the comfort of any reasonable person” or “so harsh, prolonged, unnatural or unusual in their use, time and place” as to discomfort residents, through means like vehicles, machinery, sound equipment and musical instruments.

 

[For more details of all changes in the ordinance to be considered, read "Newtown Township to Consider Amending Noise Ordinance".]

 

One township supervisor said he once was on the receiving end of a questionable nuisance report.

 

John Mack said a police officer knocked on his door and woke him up around midnight on a weekday, responding to a neighbor’s call that there was “loud music” originating from a party at his house. The source of the noise, earlier in the evening, had been Mack’s son, listening to music in his car while pulling into the driveway.

 

“I responded (to the officer), ‘Does it look like there was a party here?’” Mack said, adding, “You can easily see how the police can be misled by he-said, she-said.”

 

Mack said, on the one hand, the noise complaints are a small percentage of the total calls to police, and that the calls create opportunities for officers to meet and engage with residents face to face. On the other hand, he said, officers could be distracted from more serious matters if drawn into the smaller-scale disputes.

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, September 26, 2018 11:29 AM

Coincidently (?), at least one Newtown resident recently sent a letter to the Supervisors complaining about barking dogs in a nearby kennel: "On an almost daily basis I have been forced to go indoors and on many occasions have had to shut my windows and doors because the barking was unbearable. There are many days when the incessant barking lasts for hours at a time."

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To Protect and Shop: Bringing Holiday Joy to Kids & Cops Alike!

To Protect and Shop: Bringing Holiday Joy to Kids & Cops Alike! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

It was meant to be a shopping spree; a holiday escape from hardships.

 

But several times throughout Sunday’s Shop with a Cop event at the Target store in Middletown, reality reared its head.

 

The father of one of the children selected to take part, through referrals by area schools to buy toys with money donated by local residents and business, reluctantly asked Newtown Township police Cpl. Paul Deppi if they could pick up some diapers.

 

Another girl set her sights on blankets, wondering if she could get one for her mom and dad because the heat in the house doesn’t work well, said Deppi. Deppi said the families were “overwhelmed” with gratitude and even the shoppers enjoyed watching the kids make the rounds around the store.

 

“Some just came up to hug us,” he added. “I passed by one lady three times and each time she broke out in tears.”

 

While it was officially Newtown Township’s first time taking part, Deppi had helped out and observed the operation in Richland previously.

 

 

He knew what kind of emotional and tangible effect it had on both the kids and cops, but he still felt a sense of uncertainty from some of his younger officers when the idea was brought to them.

 

They ended up loving it, he said.

 

“Some of them were scheduled to just come by for an hour ended up staying for three hours,” Deppi said. “We got to be able to show that not only are we cops but we’re fathers and mothers and coaches and members of the community too.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Thank you Officer Deppi, @Newtown_Police and other local police officers who donated their time to help those in need of some cheer.

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Lower Makefield Township to Raise Taxes by 1.24 Mill - an Average of $52 per Year per Household

Lower Makefield Township to Raise Taxes by 1.24 Mill - an Average of $52 per Year per Household | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Lower Makefield is proceeding with a restructured budget officials say will “reset” township finances, after they learned there was less money in township coffers than previously projected.

 

The budget calls for a 1.24-mill tax increase, bringing the township’s total millage from 19.01 to 20.25 mills. The increase will hike the municipal tax bill for the owner of a home assessed at Lower Makefield’s average of $42,048 from $799.33 to $851.47 — an approximate $52 increase.

 

The 2019 budget lists $13 million in general fund expenditures, compared to a projected $12.7 million for 2018.

 

Each new mill brings the township about $522,304 in new revenue. The proposed 1.24-mill increase is to be divided among 0.44 mills for the township’s debt service fund, 0.28 mills for its general fund, 0.24 mills for its parks and recreation fund, 0.15 mills for its road machinery fund and 0.13 mills for its ambulance fund.

 

Supervisors added the 0.24 mills for parks and recreation to a proposed 1-mill tax increase before voting to advertise their preliminary 2019 budget at their last meeting in November. The board intends to approve the final 2019 budget at its Dec. 19 meeting.

 

Lower Makefield Manager Kurt Ferguson [previously Newtown Township Manager; read “Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson Will Take Lower Makefield Township Manager Position in July”], who joined the township in July, told supervisors in October he views the budget as a “reset,” creating positive or neutral balances in multiple funds.

 

Supervisor Dan Grenier said the auditing firm had a responsibility to accurately report the balances in the township funds and he was “incredibly disappointed” in finding out the general fund balance was different than he had been told.

 

“You need to know what your financial status is to make appropriate decisions,” he said.

 

Supervisors Chairman John Lewis said the board is not alleging any illegal or unethical activities in the crafting of previous budgets.

 

In preparing for the township’s financial future, supervisors also directed Ferguson last month to retain a new auditing firm.

 

Ferguson said since then he has enlisted Maillie LLP, a firm he described as “good to work with but tough, in that they ask lots of questions and need lots of explanation.” He said the firm likely will have the 2018 audit completed around summer 2019.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

When Ferguson was Newtown Township Manager he advocated a 2-mill tax increase. For more on that, read “Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson Talks About Taxes”.

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Newtown Supervisors Approve an Ordinance That Allows Medical Marijuana Growers & Processors

Newtown Supervisors Approve an Ordinance That Allows Medical Marijuana Growers & Processors | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Faced with implementing Pennsylvania’s new medical marijuana program, the board of supervisors approved a joint zoning ordinance which would specify where dispensaries, as well as growers and processors could be located in the area.

After a brief public hearing at the Nov. 28 meeting, the board voted 4-0 to authorize the measure.

Approving the ordinance were: Chairman Phil Calabro, along with Supervisors Linda Brobrin, John Mack and Dennis Fisher. Supervisor Kyle Davis did not attend the meeting.

Because Newtown Township is part of a joint municipal zoning consortium with neighboring Upper Makefield and Wrightstown Townships, any zoning ordinances regulating the location of these cannabis operations must approved by all three municipalities, known as the ‘jointure,’ in order to take effect.

If one of the municipalities turns it down, then the matter is effectively dead.

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Summary of November 14, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the November 14, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting.

 

Administration

Township Manager Employment Agreement approved by 5-0 vote. [NOTE: As per the draft 2019 Budget, $116,367 is allocated for "Management Salaries" in 2019.]

 

Committee Reports

Finance Committee: Mr. Fisher reported on the Newtown Township Finance Committee. The group has been researching a possible grant from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. There will be a presentation at the Board’s Work Session meeting on Monday, November 19, 2018.

 

Crime

October 2018 Calls report: Interim Police Chief Harris reported on the police activity for October: Calls for service: 1,549 total calls, 328 (21%) of which were in Wrightstown Township.

 

Development

Arcadia Green/Newtown Holdings LLC, Tentative Plan Application Denied in a 5-0 vote.

 

Prepared Statement by Supervisor Mack

"After listening to all the testimony, reading the reports of experts, and listening to residents of surrounding communities, I will vote to deny the current Arcadia PRD Definition because I think it would be unsafe for residents of that development – should it go forward – to exit and enter the development. Also, let’s not forget the additional traffic it would bring to the intersection of Buck Road and the Bypass. Lastly, the plan for a U-turn to allow access to the Bypass is totally impractical, unsafe, and will cause major delays in my opinion, which seems to also be the opinion of PennDOT and other experts."

 

Fiscal Responsibility

2019 Draft Budget: Vote to authorize the advertisement for adoption of the 2019 preliminary budget passed 5-0.

 

Public Safety

Newtown Ambulance Squad: Chief Evan Resnikoff, Newtown Ambulance Squad, informed the Board as of September first, NAS no longer cover Northampton Township and will see a “significant decrease” in its subscription drive revenue.

 

More details here.

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Newtown Becomes the FIRST Township in Bucks County to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Protects the Rights of the LGBTQ Community

Newtown Becomes the FIRST Township in Bucks County to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Protects the Rights of the LGBTQ Community | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Supervisors approved an ordinance Wednesday evening establishing a new Human Relations commission, which can review and answer complaints from residents alleging discrimination based on “actual or perceived” qualities not covered under federal or state law.

 

Newtown Township has joined Yardley and Hatboro in establishing anti-discrimination protections for its residents this year.

 

The board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Kyle Davis absent, to approve an ordinance forming a three- to five-member Human Relations commission, tasked with reviewing complaints from residents alleging discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations or access to educational institutions.

 

The measure is intended to safeguard against unequal treatment based on an individual’s “actual or perceived” race, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.

 

After receiving a complaint, the commission can facilitate fact-finding conferences with parties in a dispute, conduct investigations and potentially hold public hearings where the parties can provide testimony. Members could then decide whether to issue a cease-and-desist order or take “additional action” as deemed appropriate.

 

Supervisor John Mack first floated the idea for the ordinance in July, and in September, the board heard a presentation from Yardley Councilman David Bria, who led the charge on Yardley’s anti-discrimination ordinance earlier this year.

 

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not spelled out as protected under federal or state law, leaving appellate courts in various districts to decide differently as to whether any protections exist at all, Bria said.

 

With supervisors’ approval Wednesday evening, Newtown Township has become Bucks County’s first township to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance. Between 2002 and 2013, officials approved similar ordinances in New Hope, Doylestown Borough, Newtown Borough and Bristol Borough, with Yardley and Hatboro joining in in March and May, respectively. All are boroughs compared to a township.

 

Newtown Township’s vote also expands the number of county residents living in municipalities with anti-discrimination protections in place, on account of its size compared to the six boroughs.

 

Before Wednesday evening, 32,676 residents of those boroughs, or 5.2 percent of Bucks County’s 625,249 residents, lived in protected municipalities. Now, factoring in Newtown Township’s 19,299 residents, 51,975 residents, or 8.3 percent, are covered, according to census data.

 

Related:

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Ever since I first interviewed David Bria in December, 2017 (https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/briapodcast1.html), it was my goal and my promise to Dave to bring this before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors. I thank my fellow Supervisors for diligently doing their research on this issue and crafting this ordinance. The next step is to get volunteers to serve on the Human Relations Commission established by the ordinance. Only when this commission is formed will this ordinance come into effect. Stay tuned.

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Melt, a Grilled Cheese Store, To Open Newtown? Supervisors Will Decide Tonight

Melt, a Grilled Cheese Store, To Open Newtown? Supervisors Will Decide Tonight | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Melt, a New York-based grilled cheese chain, is looking to open a location in Newtown.

 

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors will be reviewing Melt's conditional use application at a meeting tonight, Wednesday, Nov. 28. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at 100 Municipal Drive.

 

Melt has an existing store at the King of Prussia Mall, as well as locations in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and at the Mall of America in Minnesota.

 

The menus vary by location, but all include an array of savory sandwiches with creative combinations. Dishes on the menu at the King of Prussia location include chicken melts, burger melts, maple bacon grilled cheeses, salads, milkshakes, and house-made chicken tenders.

 

An opening timeline has not yet been set

johnmacknewtown's insight:

I don't think there will be any free samples :( The BOS approved the conditional use for the Melt Shop. No free samples were involved.

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Newtown Supervisors to Vote on Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Newtown Supervisors to Vote on Anti-Discrimination Ordinance | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) is scheduled to vote on an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance at the November 28, 2018, BOS public meeting.

 

Currently, there is no federal law that explicitly prohibits workplace discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Twenty (20) states plus Washington D.C. currently have laws which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Pennsylvania law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and is therefore the only state in the northeastern U.S. not to do so.

 

If Newtown Township were to adopt this ordinance, it would nearly double the number of individuals in Bucks County living in a municipality that prohibits LGBTQ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning - discrimination.

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Three New JMZO Ordinances Up for a Vote by Newtown Supervisors

Three New JMZO Ordinances Up for a Vote by Newtown Supervisors | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Three New JMZO Ordinances Up for a Vote by Newtown Supervisors at the November 28, 2018, Public Meeting

 

JMZO Ordinance 2017-02 concerns Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Growers/Processors.

 

JMZO Ordinance 2018-01 concerns the sales and use of consumer fireworks.

 

JMZO Ordinance 2018-02 concerns uses in Wrightstown for a micro-brewery, tasting room, “conservation” special events, art gallery, and community theater.

 

THIS WILL BE YOUR LAST CHANCE to go on the record with your comments regarding these ordinances. The meeting will begin at 7:00 pm at the Pubic Meeting Room at the Municipal Center, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA.

 

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Curated by johnmacknewtown
I am a retired small businessman who has lived in Newtown Township PA since 1995. The opinions expressed here are solely mine and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.