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Polk adopts budget, proposes firearms ordinance

The Polk Township supervisors adopted the 2020 budget at their Monday night meeting. Chairman Brian Ahner said that they did not increase taxes, but residents may see a slight increase or decrease in their taxes because Monroe County reassessed properties this year.

In 2019, the tax rate was 4.3 mills. For 2020, the tax rate is now 0.62 mills due to the reassessment, he said.

Ahner also said the supervisors have decided to advertise a proposed firearms ordinance. The ordinance would prohibit the discharge of firearms in certain areas of the municipality.

They have been working with the township’s planning committee on the ordinance for several months, he said. A firearms ordinance does not currently exist in the township.

Ahner said he has been a member of a local gun club for 35 years and is its current president, so “for me to say I don’t want you to shoot on your property, it comes down to safety.”

The proposed firearms ordinance was created in response to complaints the township has received from residents concerned about guns being discharged too close to houses.

As stated in the proposed ordinance, “The supervisors are concerned with respect to the discharge of firearms under circumstances, which may provide dangers and hazards to residents of the township.”

The firearms covered in the ordinance include any gun, shotgun, rifle, handgun, pistol and any other device that propels a projectile through force. It does not apply to a bow and arrow, crossbow, BB gun or pellet gun.

The discharge of firearms would be prohibited:

• In any residential subdivision;

• Within 150 yards of any adjacent occupied structure, camp or farm;

• Anywhere in the township before dawn or after dusk;

• On any property smaller than 1 continuous acre;

• Under any circumstance where the bullet or other fired projectile will not remain on the same property where it was discharged.

The ordinance also prohibits reckless, careless or improper use of any firearm being used for the purpose of causing damage or harm to people or their property within the township.

If a person does discharge a firearm in the township, then the ordinance gives law enforcement the right to seize the weapon as evidence.

The matter would then go before a magisterial district judge, and if found guilty, the person could pay a fine of up to $1,000 plus costs. If the fine isn’t paid, then the person could go to jail for up to 90 days.

“We want our residents to be safe,” Ahner said.

The township also approved hiring a new zoning officer and building inspector. Ahner said the positions were open because the township’s zoning officer, Justin Burker, decided to move to Colorado, and the building inspector, John Blick, is retiring.

The new zoning officer will be Tracy Herman from Lehigh Valley Inspection Services and the building inspector will be Tino Nocchi from Base Engineering Inc. They will begin in early January.