News Archive


Bill to Allow Local Officials to Be Removed from Office Passes PA House

Tuesday July 9th, 2019
The PA House passed a proposed constitutional amendment June 25 that would allow municipal officials to be removed from office for cause, such as missing meetings or dereliction of duties.
 
The amendment, which passed by a 195-6 vote, would require the General Assembly to establish the reasons that a local government official could be removed from office and provide a procedure for that removal. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.
 
The process for amending the state constitution is lengthy. Both legislative chambers must approve the bill in two consecutive legislative sessions before it can go before registered voters for ratification.
 
PSATS has concerns about the bill and would rather see elected officials who fail to perform their duties be encouraged to resign, rather than forcibly removed from office. PSATS issued a statement that reads, in part:
 
"Overturning the will of the voters is a dangerous precedent and should only be undertaken with extreme caution and appropriate due process. Political and personal grudge motivations must not be the driving forces. There is currently a process available in the Pennsylvania Constitution, albeit a difficult one, to remove any elected official from office."
 
Statewide advertising requirements for proposed constitutional amendments could cost taxpayers $500,000 to $1 million for the first passage of the bill during the current session, according to the House Appropriations Committee.


Townships May Keep Permanent Records in Electronic Form

Tuesday July 9th, 2019
Townships can now keep permanent records in electronic form thanks to a new policy of the Pennsylvania State Archives and Local Government Records Committee. The new policy has been added to the Municipal Records Manual.
 
The revised rule allows municipalities to keep records permanently in electronic form without a backup paper or microfilm version if the records meet certain format and storage requirements. Townships can access the revised manual, a supplemental guidance document, and an FAQ page on the State Archives website.
 
Under the new policy, permanent electronic records must be kept in the PDF/A format, which differs from the familiar PDF format, and must be stored in a live (computer) server environment with at least one backed-up copy stored separately. For each series maintained in this manner, townships must notify the State Archives using a form that can be found in the Municipal Records Manual.
 
Unlike with microfilm, the archives will not require inspection reports each time original paper copies are destroyed. The policy applies equally to records that are created electronically and those that are scanned from paper copies. However, it only applies to records with permanent retention; non-permanent records do not have any format or storage requirements if they remain secure and accessible for as long as they are retained.
 
For more information, go to the State Archives webpage for records retention schedules. Townships may also call (717) 787-7330 with questions.


PennDOT Winter Road Service Agreements Due July 31

Tuesday July 9th, 2019
Townships that want to renew or establish winter road service agreements with the state Department of Transportation should notify their district maintenance office now. For agreement renewals, the cutoff date for a municipality to legally withdraw in writing is July 31 unless otherwise specified in an existing agreement.
 
Under these agreements, which can have terms of up to five years, Penn­DOT pays municipalities an upfront annual lump sum to remove snow and ice from state roads from October 15 to April 30. PennDOT pays a winter severity adjustment at the end of the season depending on how the winter stacks up against PennDOT’s five-year average historic cost.
 
PennDOT must approve all contracts before winter maintenance begins.
 
To determine if PennDOT’s reimbursement rate will cover expenses, townships should look at the costs of purchasing salt, anti-skid materials, and other supplies and providing equipment maintenance, labor, and overhead.
 
Townships should also consider the legal ramifications of entering into such an agreement and review these contracts with their solicitor.
 
Ten percent of state roads are maintained through service agreements with townships and other municipalities. 
 
For more information, including other agreement mechanisms and options, call your PennDOT district maintenance office. 


Fire Companies that Promote 811 Calls Can Win $500

Tuesday July 9th, 2019
Fire companies that help promote the “call before you dig” message could win $500 through a contest sponsored by Pennsylvania One Call and various sponsors. State law requires that anyone getting ready to dig with power equipment first call 811 so the location of underground utilities can be marked.
 
The Fire House 811 campaign encourages fire companies to post a creative 811 message on their firehouse marquee and email a photo (along with their address and contact information) to contact@pa1call.org. A winner will be drawn every second Friday of the month through December. 
 
To raise awareness about public safety and call before you dig, Pennsylvania 811, the state’s 811 call center, will post photos of all entries on its Facebook and Twitter pages. If your firehouse doesn’t have a marquee, it can order a complimentary 4-by-8-foot vinyl banner to hang and photograph (the station’s name must be in the picture) to submit for the drawing.
 
The contest began in June and remaining drawings will take place July 12, August 9, September 13, October 11, November 8, and December 13. Fire companies may only enter and win once in the calendar year. 
 
For more information about the contest or to order a vinyl banner, go to the Fire House 811 Campaign page.


Natural Gas Impact Fee Funds Released

Thursday June 27th, 2019

Today, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced that it collected $243 million in natural gas impact fees for calendar year 2018, which will be distributed in early July. This is the highest amount collected in any one year. An additional $8.9 million is being distributed to municipalities and counties where producer payments had been withheld due to a court case about stripper wells that has been resolved.

To find out how much your township will receive, go to https://www.act13-reporting.puc.pa.gov and choose "Reports," then "County and Municipality Disbursement," and then choose "2018" from the drop-down menu.



Watershed Project Proposals Being Accepted by DEP

Monday June 24th, 2019
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is soliciting watershed project proposals under the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program this summer. Proposals will be accepted beginning June 24 until 5 p.m. August 9, 2019.
 
Priority will be given to proposals that address nonpoint source pollution originating from agriculture, stormwater runoff, stream channel degradation, and acid mine drainage where the proposed project is identified in an existing Section 319 watershed implementation plan (WIP). (Click here to see a list of approved WIPs.)
 
Priority will also be placed on proposals that
 
• update existing, approved WIPs; 
 
• develop new WIPs for HUC 12 watershed scale based upon EPA’s nine minimum watershed elements (see www.epa.gov/nps/resources-watershed-planning); or
 
• focus on new WIP plan development and revision in Tier 1-4 counties in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
 
Applications that implement statewide or regional projects addressing nonpoint source pollution to restore or protect water quality may also be considered if funding remains after addressing the priorities listed above. 
 
For more information, go to DEP's Nonpoint Source page.  For questions, please contact DEP’s Scott Carney at (717) 783-2944, email rscarney@pa.gov, or EPA’s Mike Hoffmann at (215)-814-2716, email Hoffmann.Michael@epa.gov.


Celebrate Your Parks & Rec Staff, Volunteers July 19

Friday June 21st, 2019
Where would your township parks and rec program be without your staff and/or countless volunteers? July 19 is the first-ever Pennsylvania Park and Recreation Professionals Day, an excellent time to recognize the vital contributions these selfless individuals make to your community.
 
The observance is an opportunity to celebrate the normally unsung services of some 8,000 Pennsylvania park and recreation professionals and thousands of volunteers who contribute to Pennsylvanians' well-being by serving on boards, committees, commissions, and friends, neighborhoods, trails, and other groups. 
 
Pennsylvanians are blessed to own more than 6,000 community parks and 12,000 miles of trails in every nook and county, plus 121 award-winning state parks. In fact, there is a state or local park within 25 miles of nearly every resident.
 
Along with them are countless playgrounds, pools, beaches, campsites, marinas, picnic areas, athletic fields, skate parks, dog parks, festival venues, gardens, visitor centers, historic and cultural attractions, and many other recreational facilities and amenities. 
 
Parks and natural areas are so important to Pennsylvanians that, although our state ranks 33rd in terms of area, only Alaskans and Californians have more park land. 
 
Pennsylvania Park and Recreation Professionals Day is coordinated by the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society to honor those who plan, provide, and operate our parks, trails, programs, and facilities for all our citizens.
 
Encourage your residents to visit a favorite or nearby park on July 19 to enjoy its many benefits, as well as show a little appreciation to the programmers, managers, maintainers, landscapers, facilitators, lifeguards, coaches, event organizers, and caretakers who enhance the experience for all of us.
 
For more information or to download posters, logos, social media graphics, and more, go to https://prps.org/parkrecday.
 


PSATS 2020 Calendar is Going to the Dogs...

Tuesday June 18th, 2019

Attention, pet owners! PSATS wants your photos for the Association’s 2020 calendar!

Here is your chance to show off your cute canine companion, furry feline friend, or other pertinent pet pal. PLEASE NOTE: PHOTOS MUST INCLUDE YOU AND YOUR PET(S).

Please provide your name and position, the pet’s name (and species if not readily apparent), and your township and county.

REQUIREMENTS

• To reproduce well in print, photos must have a resolution of at least 300 dpi at a size of 4 inches x 6 inches.

• Please email photos as jpeg attachments to kacri@psats.org by September 16, 2019.

• Make sure to provide your name and position, township and county, and a daytime phone number.

 



Grants Support Archival Record Preservation

Monday June 10th, 2019
Townships and other organizations that preserve historical records may want to apply for the new Historical & Archival Records Care (HARC) grant program from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) and the Pennsylvania State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB). The application deadline is August 1, 2019.
 
Funding is available to historical records repositories, such as historical societies, libraries, universities, local governments, and school districts, for collections care, including surveying, inventorying, preserving, arranging, and describing historical records significant to Pennsylvania, as well as for records reformatting and equipment. Also, a portion of funding may be requested to support outreach and accessibility initiatives.
 
Applicants may apply for up to $15,000 with a 50 percent cash or in-kind match. Smaller grants up to $5,000 are available with no match required. Funding is provided by PHMC.
 
The HARC program is designed to improve the preservation and accessibility of historically valuable records.
 
Applicants must use the web-based electronic grant application process (eGrant). For grant program guidelines and eGrant application instructions, visit PHMC's Records Care Grants page.


Join in National Night Out on August 6 to Help Fight Crime

Monday June 10th, 2019
Townships are encouraged to plan community activities to observe the National Association of Town Watch’s 36th Annual National Night Out (NNO) on Tuesday, August 6.
 
Last year, citizens, law enforcement agencies, community groups, businesses, youth organizations, and local, state, and federal officials from 16,790 communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and military bases worldwide joined forces to celebrate the event.
 
“The energy, dedication and leadership of our NNO local coordinators never ceases to amaze me,” says Matt Peskin, NNO creator and national project coordinator. “When neighbors and local law enforcement get together under positive circumstances, great things happen. These are bonds that will last forever.”
 
In addition to the traditional vigil of turning on porch lights, many communities also sponsor block parties, cookouts, parades, police visits and demonstrations, neighborhood flashlight walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies, and youth programs and activities.
 
Lehigh Township in Northampton County, Spring Township in Berks County, and Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County won awards from the National Association of Town Watch for their 2018 events.
 
If your township is holding an NNO event this year, tell the News about it and be sure to include photos. Email the info to glinn@psats.org.
 
For more information, call toll-free (800) NITE-OUT (648-3688) or go to natw.org.


Gas Well Emergency Response Grants Available

Wednesday May 29th, 2019
Fire and rescue companies and emergency medical services in counties with unconventional gas wells or neighboring counties may apply for Unconventional Gas Well Local Emergency Response Grants from the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. The deadline for applications is July 24.
 
Eligible projects include:
 
• Obtaining professional national certification.
 
• Purchasing firefighting, emergency medical, rescue, or air-monitoring equipment to be used for incidents on, or related to, an unconventional gas well pad. All equipment purchased through the program will also include training on the equipment provided by the Pa.State Fire Academy at no additional costs to the grant recipient(s).
 
• Attending training classes and obtaining required educational materials to prepare for incidents at an unconventional gas well pad or related to the unconventional gas industry.
 
For more information and to apply, go to the State Fire Commissioner's grants page
 
For more information on programs, training and grant opportunities, visit the State Fire Commissioner website


Online Training Modules Available with PennDOT Connects

Tuesday May 28th, 2019

Select PennDOT Connects training topics are available as stand-alone, recorded online training modules. Each topic is presented as a 15-minute overview designed to refresh municipal understanding of PennDOT Connects, explain key principles and practices, offer examples and key resources, and provide steps for implementation.

The narrated presentations are highly interactive and carefully constructed to introduce the viewer to basic concepts, circumstances that might make it the right time to adopt a new tool or approach, associated advantages and disadvantages, special challenges, and case studies and resources. You can view each module at your own pace at your convenience. 

To learn more about these training opportunities, visit the PennDOT Connects page, or read the Spring 2019 edition of PennDOT Connects newsletter, TRANSFORM