by Betsy Wallace
Here are the highlights of the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners Workshop and Business meetings, held on July 6 and 8, respectively.
Springfield Township and Racial Justice
During the public comment section of the Township’s Business Meeting, a township resident asked about the township’s plans for addressing racial justice in light of the recent stand it took on George Floyd’s murder. The commissioners agreed that they strongly support police outreach efforts, including regularly scheduled community discussions with township police via Zoom for now. Commissioner Eddie Graham said that he and others are developing a coalition to address racial inequality in three areas: Governmental, Police, and School District. The Youth Leadership Committee, which is part of the coalition, presented its concerns to the School District at its board meeting on Tuesday, July 7.
Springfield Township Residents may join in the coalition by contacting Commissioner Graham via springfieldmontco.org/government/board-of-commissioners/
COVID-19 What the Green Phase means in the Township
At the Business Meeting, Board President Baird Standish announced certain changes in how the township will operate in the Green Phase. Specifically, the township Administration/Police Building and the Free Library of Springfield Township are now open to the public. Visitors to any township facility must wear a face mask while in the building to help prevent the spread of the COVID virus.
The library will operate under their summer hours. All meeting rooms and seating areas are closed until further notice. Use of public computers is available by preregistration and is limited to no more than 45 minutes.
All public playgrounds, athletic fields, trails, restrooms and fishing areas in the township’s parks have also been reopened. Outdoor field permits will be considered with restrictions on the total number of people per field and facility. The Recreation Center has reopened for township programming only. Rentals of the recreation center are still prohibited until further notice.
Despite numerous township facilities and operations returning to normal, all Board of Commissioners and Advisory Board meetings will continue to be held virtually using the Zoom virtual conferencing platform.
Recycling contract is up for renewal in October 2020
At the workshop meeting held on July 6, the Board of Commissioners discussed the prospect of negotiating a new recycling contract as part of the Montgomery County Recycling Consortium, which includes seven municipalities including Springfield Township. J. P. Mascaro & Sons is the current recycling operator. The contract is due to expire in October 2020. Springfield Township currently pays a fixed cost of $50-$60/ton for recycling. Seven years ago, the township made money on recycling of about $12/ton. But the recycling market has been struggling since China ceased importing certain mixed paper and plastic waste from the United States in 2018.
The Recycling Consortium will meet soon to forge plans for negotiating a new contract, but it appears that we can only expect recycling cost to increase. The township is committed to maintaining the recycling program, but it may require changes in the way recycling is done in order to lower costs.
Township Commissioners authorize a letter to the PA General Assembly on regulating consumer-grade fireworks
At its workshop meeting, the commissioners discussed the use of fireworks and the extent to which they may be further regulated by the township. The township received many complaints from residents about fireworks use in the township in the past few months. Under the current law, no municipality is allowed to impose any more restrictive law than the PA Fireworks Law, Act of October 30, 2017, No. 43, 2017 Pa. Laws 672 (2017). The PA Municipal League, comprised of 3rd class municipalities, requested that Springfield Township, among other first-class townships, petition the PA Assembly to change the fireworks law to allow municipalities to regulate consumer-grade fireworks use. First Class Townships possess the authority to advocate for changes in PA law. The Commissioners voted unanimously at its Business Meeting to authorize the letter.
The Springfield Township website includes the State Police regulations regarding consumer-grade fireworks use, including the following:
- Fireworks shall not be ignited or discharged on any property without express permission of the property owner.
- Fireworks shall not be ignited or discharged on any public street or parkland at any time.
- Fireworks shall not be discharged from or within a motor vehicle or building.
- Fireworks shall not be discharged toward a person, motor vehicle or building.
- Fireworks shall not be discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure, whether or not a person is actually present.
- Fireworks shall not be discharged while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another drug.
Earned Income tax information for those who are working from home during pandemic
At their workshop meeting, Commissioners discussed whether Springfield Township residents can pay the township’s earned income tax for the time that they worked from home during the pandemic. In some cases, that would mean a tax decrease for residents, especially if their jobs are located in Philadelphia. Township Manager Michael Taylor said that Berkheimer Tax Innovations, the tax collector for the Township’s earned income tax, will provide the necessary information to township residents.
Police Promotions, grant applications and vacancies in the Library Advisory Committee and Shade Tree Commission.
At its Business Meeting, the Board of Commissioners announced the promotions of three township police officers. Rebecca Mersky, a 17-year veteran of the Springfield Township Police, was promoted to Lieutenant, Nelson Whitney II, a seven-year veteran, was promoted to Sergeant, and Christopher Calhoun, a six-year veteran, was promoted to Corporal.
The township is looking for applicants to fill vacancies in the Library Advisory Committee and the Shade Tree Commission. Township residents may send a letter of interest to Michael Taylor, Township Manager, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Township residents can see and listen to the Recorded Business meeting via ZOOM here: https://www.springfieldmontco.org/government/meeting-agendas-minutes/. Check the Township website for all Public Meeting Agendas, minutes and video-recordings of the Township Business meetings at Springfieldmontco.org