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Who is Responsible for Paying the Police Contracts?
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

Pennsburg officials institute legal action against East Greenville


            In a move that was somewhat expected, Pennsburg Borough Council has made the decision to take legal action against neighbor and former partner in police services, East Greenville.

            The unanimous vote came after an executive session.  The action will direct the borough's solicitor, Chuck Garner, to proceed with filing a "declaratory judgment" against East Greenville borough.

            A declaratory judgment is a judgment of a court which determines the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages. By seeking a declaratory judgment, the party making the request (Pennsburg) is looking for an official declaration of the status of a matter in controversy.

            A petition for a declaratory judgment asks the court to define the legal relationship between the parties and their rights with respect to the matter before the court. A declaratory judgment is binding but is distinguished from other judgments or court opinions in that it doesn't provide a method of enforcement.

            However, other legal action would most likely follow.

            In this case, the matter before the court will be the contracts with the police chief and officers of the Upper Perk Police Department.

            East Greenville and Pennsburg were partners in the Upper Perk Police District until June 1 of this year.  After announcing their intentions to withdraw from the partnership last year, East Greenville formed their own police department, beginning on that date.

            To date the East Greenville has hired a full-time police chief and officer as well as a part-time officer.

            But, contracts between the Upper Perk Police Commission, comprised of the mayors and two borough council members of each borough, were still in force at the time.  The contract with the police chief runs through December 31, 2018 and the contract with the police officers runs through December 31, 2017.

            Pennsburg taxpayers have been footing the bill alone since June.

            It is hoped that the initial judgement will identify the borough of East Greenville as a legal and responsible participant in those contracts.

            In other news, Luanne Stauffer and Kasey Schultz, representing the Upper Perkiomen Chamber of Commerce and PerkUp, announced a new program of Hometown Hero banners.  The banners will honor veteran service men and women with ties to the Upper Perkiomen Valley.

            A small "pilot program" will see the first banners being hung on Main Street in Pennsburg between September 11 and Veterans Day in November.  Stauffer said "We are hoping to have them up for Community Day" this Saturday.

            Guidelines for submission of veterans for consideration of the banners are still being formulated and the plan is for the program to expand through the boroughs of East Greenville, Pennsburg, and Red Hill.

            Stauffer and Schultz were at the meeting seeking permission to apply for the proper permits and permissions from PennDOT, Verizon and PP&L to hang the banners.

            Permission was granted unanimously by borough officials.

            Stauffer also was seeking approval on a contract with PennDOT for the installation of the area's Wayfinding Signs, including identifying a sign district for the municipality.  Stauffer said the "prototypes for the signs are almost finished" and approval is needed to keep the process moving.

            Officials were supportive and authorized the agreement to be signed after review.

            Cynthia Smith appeared before council to present the latest revision to the Pennsburg Square Shopping Center building plans.

            The shopping center is planning a major expansion in the near future and representatives will be appearing before the Zoning Hearing Board on September 7th looking for a few exceptions.

            While a majority of the property is zoned for a shopping center, a few of the parcels closer to Seminary Street are in a Limited Industrial-Commercial zone.  In addition, they will be asking the Board to waive requirements on some of the new parking spaces (i.e. installation of concrete bumper guards) to allow for snow-plowing in the winter.

            According to Smith, there will be a left-turn lane, west-bound on Pottstown Avenue for shopping center traffic that will allow through traffic to continue west.

            Also a "right turn" entrance and exit will be installed between Silk Alley and Washington Street.  Only traffic traveling eastbound on Pottstown Avenue will be allowed to enter the shopping with a right turn. 

            Traffic exiting the shopping center at that location will only be permitted to make a right turn on eastbound Pottstown Avenue.

            Act 172, which would provide incentives for volunteer first-responders, was discussed.  The incentives to volunteers could include up to 20% property tax reduction or an elimination of the municipality's Earned Income Tax.

            While discussion for the Act was favorable, concerns about how to implement and monitor it; and who is eligible came up.

            The Act is specific to the municipality however, because of the closeness of communities and organizations in the Upper Perkiomen Valley area, many volunteer first-responders serve organizations outside of where they live. 

            As an example, if Pennsburg officials approve the incentive, it applies to Pennsburg tax only.  If a volunteer, who lives in Red Hill, serves an organization in Pennsburg, he or she would not be eligible for the incentive unless Red Hill borough approved it for their volunteer first responders – and that could be at a different rate.  Officials will continue to research and discuss the issue.

            Sandra Cassel, representing the Upper Perkiomen School District asked officials to consider hiring a crossing-guard for the intersection of Montgomery Avenue and Eleventh Street.

            Saying that the School District would split the cost of the guard, she noted that PennDOT has recently designated the intersection as a hazard.

            Before the installation of the traffic light at Eleventh and Main Streets, a crossing-guard was stationed at that intersection to help students cross.  The cost was split three-ways between Pennsburg, Red Hill, and the School District.

            Since the Eleventh Street side is in Red Hill, officials inquired about the possibility of reinstituting the three-way split.

            Councilman Bruce Lord stated that "In order for the crossing guard to be effective, Upper Hanover would need to install a stop sign on Montgomery Avenue.  Currently, the intersection is a three-way stop at Eleventh Street, Ward Road, and the exit from the Upper Perkiomen High School.

            With the information at hand from the borough, Cassel said she will approach the other municipalities as well.






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