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Quakertown Council Works to Protect Electric Service and Shade Trees
Written by Jennifer Butler, Correspondent

            During their work session Monday night, Quakertown Borough Council took some time to discuss future Pennsylvania legislation that may impact municipalities, including Quakertown, which provide electricity directly to citizens.

            According to Borough Manager Scott McElree, the Pennsylvania Municipal Electric Association (PMEA) is seeking support from its 35 member municipalities to be better poised to lobby against future restrictive legislation.

            McElree, who attended the PMEA annual conference last month, reported that the organization is seeking additional dues in order to hire an executive director to head up efforts. The organization would also then be able to work directly with municipalities in need of specific guidance, training or services.

            While McElree did not elaborate on possible future legislation, he acknowledged that restrictions could have an impact on the borough's ability to provide power.

            "Our proceeds go right back into the community and largely help fund our general fund which is public works, parks and rec and the police department," McElree said, adding that these proceeds are one reason Quakertown has the lowest tax rate in Bucks County (currently 1.62 mills).

            Annual PMEA dues are set based on kilowatts sold. Quakertown currently contributes $2,265 in dues. PMEA is asking for an increase of nearly $20,000.

            "In recent years, our way of life is being threatened by potential legislation that would limit or prohibit us providing public power to our communities," McElree said. "$22,000 is a small price to pay to maintain our way of life."

            After the meeting, McElree confirmed that Quakertown's municipal power program adds approximately $5 million to the general fund annually. Details of the additional contribution to the PMEA will be developed before annual dues are payable in January, 2019.

            In other business Monday night, Councilman Dave Wilsey presented a sample ordinance that would regulate the care and keeping of shade trees within the borough. The concept of developing an ordinance was discussed this summer after several healthy shade trees were cut down by a property owner.

            Wilsey acknowledged that the sample, meant as a starting point for council to work with, was more stringent than he would like to see. His hope is a future ordinance that discourages the removal of healthy trees and promotes general care and keeping.

            "Just one tree can affect an entire neighborhood," Wilsey said.

            With the sample as a starting point, the planning and zoning committee will develop an ordinance to be considered at a future meeting.





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