Report: Unified emergency services may offer benefits

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E. Marlborough plans no tax hike in 2017

By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times

East Marlborough Township Planning Commission Chair Cuyler Walker discusses a report on potentially unifying emergency services for six area towns with Township Supervisor Bob Weer.

EAST MARLBOROUGH – A first step toward unifying a crazy quilt of emergency services for six area towns may have taken a step forward this week, after the presentation of a report detailing the benefits of such a move, during Monday night’s township Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

Planning Commission Chairman Cuyler Walker and board member Bob Weer presented the findings from a report on the unification of emergency services within the neighboring six municipalities that include East Marlborough, Pocopson, Newlin, Kennett Borough and Kennett Township.

According to the report from a consultant, the three fire companies, Po-Mar-Lin, Longwood and Kennett, who serve the area, cannot serve in a unified way with the six municipalities. The report provides a regional and uniform approach. Each municipality would share the costs based on a funding formula – taking into consideration population – and agree to a three-year term.

Walker said that the six municipalities, at this stage, only need to accept the report as an “indication of continuing the process.” There would be no implementation until a commission was in place.

“The fire companies have been very receptive with the report,” Walker stated.

Walker said that there are many details to work out and a lot of challenges but the current uncollaborative way is “unsustainable and undesirable.” He added there is currently no opportunity for the fire companies to interact in a unified way with the governments in the area they serve.

“To me, it’s got a long way to go.” Weer added.

The supervisors voted unanimously in favor of accepting the report. The commission will continue to report to the board on its progress.

In other actions, the supervisors unanimously adopted resolutions to set the 2017 millage rates, keeping them the same as the previous year, at the Dec. 5 meeting.

For 2017, real estate taxes remain at 1.05 mills, the open space tax at 0.2 of a mill, the library tax at 1.83 mills, the and the fire tax at 0.75 of a mill. The income is estimated to be slightly above the township expenses.

The proposed budget with anticipated expenses of $2.4 million and the details can be viewed on the township website at www.eastmarlborough.org.  Once the public has had the opportunity to view it, a formal vote at a conditional use hearing will be held on Dec. 19.

Walker also reported to the board about the future of some Unionville buildings near the park. One previously was an addition to the post office and occupied by Po-Mar-Lin fire company and the other in the front is currently under lease with the post office until 2020.

A committee was formed to look at the feasibility and tax payer costs of maintaining and improving the buildings, including the addition in the back of the post office and its possible usage. He added that the post office that occupies the front portion was a convenient service for area residents and honoring the lease was favorable for its future plans.

Walker said that the back portion of the building could be used commercially but the area was not zoned to do so. Municipal usage was also an option but the committee recommended the building had no value aesthetically or historically – and demolition, rather than rehabbing, was more feasible. Per the report from the committee, the possibility of new construction, if needed and approved, would be more cost efficient.

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