W. Penn taxes to hold line
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Michael Warivonchik presents the West Penn Township Board of Supervisors with a petition to request that a traffic study be done on the intersection of Routes 309 and 895 in Snyders.
West Penn Township residents won't have to face any tax increases from the township next year.
The township's board of supervisors adopted a tentative budget for 2010 Monday night that holds the line against a property tax hike.
The budget is balanced at $1,829,751 in anticipated revenue and expenditures.
The real estate tax rate remains the same at 4.75 mills, with 4.25 mills for the general fund and a one-half mill fire tax. One mill generates $112,954 in revenue for the township, said Treasurer Karen Wittig.
Wittig said the $1.8 million budget is a bit inflated over last year's $1.7 million spending plan due to the inclusion of $160,000 in grant funding for 2010. Of that amount, $150,000 is earmarked for the West Penn Park East project and $10,000 from an Act 537 Plan sewage facilities grant.
The township has only received $25,000 in the West Penn Park funding, part of a $75,000 matching grant through the state representative's office, explained Wittig.
Wittig noted the township received $10,000 less in Liquid Fuels tax funds from the state ($257,107 compared to $267,718 for this year).
The budget will be advertised and available for public display for 20 days and will be finalized at a special meeting to be held on Tuesday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.
Under public comment, Michael Warivonchik, a retired New Jersey State trooper who now resides in the township, followed up on his concerns regarding the dangerous nature of the intersection of Routes 309 and 895 at Snyders.
Warivonchik presented the supervisors with a petition featuring over 700 signatures requesting a traffic study and a signal for the intersection.
"I also met with (state Rep.) Jerry Knowles about this, and he said the township should send a letter to PennDOT for the traffic study," said Warivonchik, who added that Knowles indicated a desire to assist in the matter.
"It's up to the township to pursue some sort of recourse for the traffic study at 895 and 309. The people have spoken," he stated.
Warivonchik said he also spoke to West Penn Police Chief Brian Johnson about how to deal with speeding in that area, such as requesting that PennDOT move the 35 miles per hour sign southbound about a quarter of a mile to allow for a sufficient zone to enforce the speed limit when it drops to 35 m.p.h. at the intersection.
"I feel there can be some intermediary fixes to get traffic to slow down, especially down the mountain," said Warivonchik.
Johnson said PennDOT would do a traffic study at the intersection if the township would implement its recommendations at West Penn's expense.
However, Edward Dudley, a former West Penn Supervisor and now chairman of the planning commission, said the intersection was placed on PennDOT's 12-Year Plan about six years ago through Charles Ross of the Schuylkill County Planning Office.
"These are state highways, so I don't know why we should pay anything," said Dudley. "It was put on the 12-Year Plan and needs to be pursued. That intersection needs to be realigned, like Leiby's (at 309 and 443 in South Tamaqua).
"If a traffic light is in, we will have to maintain it, like Leiby's, but it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease."
Supervisor Alfonso Martinez said the petition would be taken to the township's engineering consultant, Rettew, Inc. of Schuylkill Haven, to see if any grants would be available to reconfigure the intersection.
Supervisors' Chairman Randy Troxell said Penn DOT was scheduled to repair a bridge in that area next year and suggested the intersection work could potentially be added to it.
Dump truck sold
The board received two sealed bids for a 1982 International 6-Wheel dump truck and awarded the bid to Kovatch Mobile Equipment at the price of $6,250. The other bid was $5,011 from Mike Veneziano of Bellefonte.
The supervisors will also advertise that Patton and Lettich CPA, Pottsville, will perform the township's audit for the 2009 fiscal year.
The board is also checking into the status of the Teel-Duschak three-lot minor subdivision on Winter Mountain Road in Andreas. The planning commission had reviewed the plans and apparently gave conditional approval. Rettew will review if the conditions have been satisfied.
Township Solicitor Paul J. Datte, Pottsville, announced after a short executive session that a settlement has been reached as a resolution of West Penn's bankruptcy claims against Sandy's Showbar, Mantzville, with the township to receive $27,500 to cover litigation costs and other fees.