Thursday, December 12, 2013

An Open Letter Addressing the 2014 McSherrystown Borough Budget, Tax and Sewer Rate Increases

"Steamroller Policy" enacted by "The Few"

The votes concerning the Tax and Sewer Rate Increases, and the passing of the 2014 Budget which contained revenues from both, were not unanimous, with Council member David Bolton opposing the tax increase, opposing the sewer rate increases as presented, and also opposing the overall budget, as it included funds from both of the previously mentioned items. 

It is also noteworthy that the replacement costs of the municipal building roof went from $30K (when first discussed at the previous meeting), to $50K-$70K as presented at this meeting, without a single educated quote from any contractors as to the estimated amount it will cost the Borough to have the work done. 

It is also noteworthy that the items in the 5 Year Comp Plan, which were used as the reason for the tax increase, were already accounted for in the first draft of the budget, prior to the revenues from a tax increase being placed into said budget, as the Plan was already presented prior to the formation of the budget.

In addition, if the sewer upgrades are of dire importance (which they are), why did the Finance Chair recommend (and ultimately got approval for) the transfer of $58K from the Sewer Reserves to a "Misc Reserve" fund, replacing it with approximately $27K in NEW revenues from the proposed (and now passed) sewer rate increases?  (It will be noted that the Finance Chair was not present at the meeting to answer questions concerning or to pass the budget he proposed).

Also, why did the Council jettison the plan proposed by the Sewer Committee Chair for raising the funds for the sewer repairs, which would have adjusted the sewer rates to reflect the 2007 Hanover Borough rates (remaining less than Hanover's current rates), while not raising rates on lower-usage, fixed-income residents, and would have returned those rates back to current levels after 2-3 years of reserves to identify and repair the I&I issue?  This would have negated the need to raise the millage tax and would have placed the burden of expense on those who use the system the most, and would again safeguard those responsible citizens in the Borough who are already strained financially with fixed budgets of their own.

The "unfunded mandate" concerning the gas tanks was a new piece of the puzzle only first presented at this meeting, and were not a consideration when the discussion of budgetary matters occurred over the past few meetings, and there has been no documentation shown that says the State is mandating these upgrades at this time.

When Councilmember Bolton raised these questions and opposed the advertising of these new increases, a remark was made after the vote in General Session, "He's allowed to do that; that's his right".  Knowing that the measures would still pass with only one dissenting vote, this comment demonstrated an air of smug arrogance towards any opinion differing from the "Establishment" leaders on Council.

At least we had one Council member in there questioning and opposing this "Steamroller Policy". Kudos to Councilman-Elect Doug Duvall and citizen Rick Groft for standing before Council and asking the tough questions, even if they didn't get the clearest or truest answers.  

One thing is certain; "The way we've always done it" will continue only as long as we have members of the Council that have "Always been there" to do it "The way it's always been done".  With a new member joining the Council next month, perhaps we have finally started to see a changing of the guard.  Hopefully, we will see an increase in the involvement of the public at these Council meetings.  Perhaps the heavy-handed governing of "The Few" will finally give way to a local government "For The People, By The People". 

David "Scotty" Bolton 

McSherrystown Borough Councilmember and Citizen
VP and Legislative Committee Chair, Adams County Boroughs Association
PA State Association of Boroughs Board of Directors-member
Adams County Transportation Planning Organization-member
Hanover Regional Economic Development Committee-member

Contact me with your concerns at:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Higher Sewer Rates and Tax Increases...Here They Come!!!

**SPECIAL NOTICE: Due to a procedural error at our last meeting, the vote to advertise the budget was never formalized, because it was never officially stated that the motion there will be a "Special Meeting" on Wednesday, November 20th at 7pm to vote on advertising the budget. We will be conducting the remainder of business that night and the meeting scheduled for Nov. 27th will then be cancelled. Please make this change on your calendars!  DB 11/15/13

Thank you once again for taking the time to read my blog. I want to start today by thanking the good people of McSherrystown in their support of my re-election. I was at the polls all day, and had the chance to meet with many of you and discuss the various situations facing our community. Not a day goes by that someone doesn't mention how much we could use a leash law in our Borough, or how glad they are that someone is representing the "little guys" and defending their rights. It is true; I have faced some staunch opposition in my first two years on Council; from the proposed dog leash law, to my opposition of government infringement on your right to use the furniture you want on your private property, and my stance to bring voter referendum to our polls. Although I may have "lost" on each of these and other topics, I am filled with a sense of accomplishment in knowing that I have made the voice of The People heard, even if we were defeated by the long-standing figureheads with whom I serve. I will continue to serve YOU as the Vice-President of the Adams County Boroughs Association, the Legislative Committee Chair for Adams County to the PA State Association of Boroughs, on the Hanover Regional Economic Development Committee, and other assignments to come.

Today, however, I put any celebration aside, and am now ready to focus on the next four years of service to you.  It appears that the very figureheads I referenced above have specific plans for how our community government will be run during that time, and are opposed to implementing any suggestions that are not in-line with what "they" want for McSherrystown. I speak of the Municipal Budget for 2014.

I will be brief in my explanations of such, and as always, I am available to elaborate on anything that is not clear, for which I will back up my views with numbers and statistics, not opinion and personal fancy.

The first draft of the Municipal Budget allowed for a $28K deficit, of which I had addressed on Facebook previously ( In efforts to be a responsible steward of the community, I engaged on a week-long trek to find and eliminate any overspending to bring the budget to balance, as I had made it very clear that I would not vote in favor of any budget that is not so.  I am happy to report that the subsequent draft of the budget eliminates the "red", and I would like to thank Borough Manager Scott Cook and Secretary Luanne Boring for contacting the County Assessors, and for their investigation into the matter, which resulted in the discovery of additional revenues which were not accounted for in the first draft. These new numbers created a balanced budget, and as such, I will be supporting its adoption.

However, the reason for my blog today is not to gush over how good we, as administrators of the public trust, are doing a great job for The People, but to inform you of the instances of yesterday's Council meeting, and the subsequent recess to discuss the budget, followed by a re-convening of the stated meeting, in absence of the public or press, where the Council made motions to advertise not only the Budget, but also a change to the Tax Ordinance (with an increase of 1/2 mill for 2014) AND an increase in sewer rates within the same calendar year.

I will say this to begin: I do not want to increase any fiscal burdens on The People of McSherrystown unnecessarily, but I do recognize that our antiquated sewer system, which is well over 80 years old, is in dire need of repairs. These repairs are necessary if we are to provide adequate infrastructure to our community. The Council has been very frugal in their upkeep of this system, and with increased I&I each year (146% increase in 2011) contributing to the costs incurred by our residents beyond their actual water usage, it is imperative that we identify and mend the parts of our sewer system that create these increased costs, which will only become more of a burden the longer we ignore it. As such, I investigated the systems in place in our neighboring municipalities to fund such projects and devised a plan to generate the funds necessary for our system's improvements.

Currently, we have a two-tier system. A base rate of $35.60 for up to 4k gallons of usage per quarter, and then a $4.20 charge per 1k gallons thereafter. It was very important to me that we do not increase this base amount, as we have a large percentage of homes with fixed incomes and which do not generate a surplus of usage. We also have some very conservative homes that are conscientious of their usage. Therefore, I proposed two base rates: the first, being our current base rate, as a discounted base rate, so that these folks did not see an increase in their quarterly bills. The second tier base, which models that of Hanover Borough, would be set at 7k gallons for a flat rate of $54.00. Thereafter, the "per 1k gallon" cost would be set from $4.20 to $5.80 (which is $.95 less than Hanover Borough and in line with their 2007 rates, prior to their last increase). This rate would apply to usage up to 25k gallons, while the last tier would discount the "per 1k" rate to $5.70 (again, nearly a dollar less than Hanover Borough, from where our water comes and to where our waste goes). It is important to keep these rates competitive in order to attract new homeowners and businesses into our Borough, which will expand the tax base and lessen the tax burden on the individual (which is why I am so active in the Regional Economic Development Committee). These increased user rates would then fund our sewer repairs. The burden of the cost of the repairs would be on the shoulders of those who use the system the most, and would safe-guard our elderly and our conserving citizens. This plan would generate an estimated $80k to be used for this purpose, as the funds would be ear-marked to the Sewer Reserves account for the work to be done, which would include continuation of the camera work to identify sources of I&I, engineering fees to develop the plan of attack for the repairs, and of course the manpower and project costs to fix the system.

It was argued by a non-Council member in the meeting that he is "tired of hearing about a user-based fee. Yes, there are people with fixed incomes in town, but they should have to pay for the system also, regardless of how much they use. Are we going to strap the costs on a family with two or three kids that are already struggling just because they use more water?". My rebuttal was, "I AM one of those people you mention, and I would rather pay for it than to have someone on a fixed income give out more of their money, especially when they are keeping their usage to a minimum, which does not contribute to the wear and tear of the system as much as those who use more water."  Obviously, I lost the argument that we were undercutting our sewer rates and that we should follow my plan to generate revenues for the repairs, because the Council decided to increase the base rates from $35.60 to $42.40 on EVERYONE, while not increasing the "per 1k gallon" rate of $4.20 a single cent. This plan creates less than $9k in additional revenues and burdens those who have the least in our community. (In comparison, Conewago Township charges $.67 more per 1k gallon over 8k, and Hanover Borough charges $6.75 per 1k gallon over 7k gallons). So, how were we going to generate the remainder of the funds needed for the repairs?

It was suggested by the Finance Chairperson that, in addition to these sewer base-rate increases (which he proposed), we should raise our taxes in the Borough by .5 mills to generate the remaining funds, but not only for the sewer repairs, but to put more revenue into the General Fund for "other future endeavors". My argument was that if we were raising funds for the sewer repairs, then the sewer rates should generate those funds. However, those funds would be placed in sewer reserves and would not be accessible to the Finance Committee to fund the other "endeavors" without a full, public vote from the Council. Those "endeavors" were not specifically named at this time.

I was NOT the only current Council member to oppose this increase. If we do not have a current deficit, and we have an adequate amount of reserves currently, why do we need to raise taxes on EVERY property owner under the guise of sewer system repairs?  The funds to be raised by his proposal would generate roughly $70k-75k in new taxes that would NOT be specifically earmarked for anything in particular, although I was "re-assured" that monies would be placed into the sewer reserves for the repairs.

My apprehension to this idea is this: If these funds are not being raised and reserved for a specific purpose, with no restriction on what they can be used for, how can we be reassured that these funds will not be kept from their intended purpose of sewer system repairs?  An even larger question than that: What happens when we do need to raise taxes for a specific purpose in the future?

I believe that my proposal, whether you agree and want to call it a "user-fee" or not, is the most reliable and sensible plan to generate the funds needed for our sewer repairs. Once the repairs are completed, we can easily reduce the rates back down to a "maintenance" level, if you will.  However, what municipality has EVER reduced their tax rates, especially when they raised them under the guise of a repair project?

Our next meeting is Wednesday, November 27, the day before Thanksgiving. This will be the day that our leaders will vote on whether to raise your taxes and whether to burden our elderly and other responsible water users with increased base rates. If you have never been to a Council meeting, this is one that should start a trend for you. YOU have a say; YOU can stand before Council and tell them what you think.  I am out here voicing your concerns and defending those in the community that cannot defend themselves. I asked for your support in my re-election, and you gave generously. I now ask for your support in upholding my promise to represent each one of you in finding the best ways to make our community better for the future. The power of government lies in the hands of the governed. Let's join those hands.  PLEASE join me at that and all other meetings and make your voices heard!

Thank you.

For Liberty,

David "Scotty" Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Council and Citizen

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hanover Regional Economic Development Plan update (video)

Thanks for visiting my blog. As you know, I will be up for re-election to the McSherrystown Borough Council on Tuesday, November 5th, at the Knights of Columbus (rear entrance) polling station. I hope that I have served our community on Council and also as Vice-President of the Adams County Boroughs Association well enough to warrant your support for another four years. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns, and I ask that you spread the word about my re-election efforts with your friends on social media. Have a Super Day, and again, thank you for allowing me to serve The People.

David W.S. Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilman and Citizen

Thursday, September 12, 2013

ACBA Legislative Committee Report for September, 2013

Back in the 1980s, former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill coined the phrase, “All politics is local”.  Tip felt that those voters who tallied ballots in their local elections were not necessarily influenced by their feelings of the leaders on the federal level when deciding who would make and uphold their municipal laws.  It is a verifiable fact that local politics do not get the involvement by or scrutiny of the constituency it deserves. Overall voter turnout for the 2013 Pennsylvania Primary Elections ranged from 14-17%. Based on the data that only 62% of Pennsylvanians are registered voters, this concludes that less than 10% of the general population is involved in making the laws that 100% are obligated to obey. (1)  Such apathy for the unique right to choose those candidates who best represent our individual interests is a danger to the system our Forefathers envisioned and penned to fend off the oppression of the elite over the masses, and one that we, as responsible stewards and defenders of liberty, cannot rightly ignore.

So how do we, as elected officials, encourage these disillusioned absentees back to the polls? How do we engage them and make the issues we face every day important enough to elicit their active involvement in the decisions our municipalities must make?  One very powerful tool that we need to use is the voter referendum.  By allowing our constituents the undeniable and quantitatively direct ability to decide local matters, we break through the false notions that their individual voices cannot make a difference.  We empower them, as they empower us, and together, we find the progression of a functional government which is more representative of the true will of The People.  The passage of Senate Bill 65 (Session of 2013) will give The People confidence in the meaning of a representative government, where their leaders concede their own personal opinions and biases in deferment to the voices of the voters

One such subject open to voter referendum would be control of local funds for the growth and maintenance of the community infrastructure.  Voting on public improvement allocations, prioritizing budgetary assignments and approving large-scale community projects are just a few possible referendum topics.  Currently, House Bill 666 (Session of 2013), co-sponsored by our own Representatives Dan Moul and Will Tallman, calls for exempting school districts from the requirements of the Prevailing Wage Act.  County election officials would then be charged with placing a referendum question on the ballot in the 2015 general election, asking county voters the following:

“Do you favor any and all public works projects undertaken in (insert county name) County by any school district and any authority, agency or instrumentality established by one or more school districts be constructed in accordance with the prevailing minimum wage rates for workmen employed on those projects as set forth in Pennsylvania's Prevailing Wage Act?”

Allowing school districts to get “more for less” by exempting them from the Prevailing Wage Act saves money for the local taxpayers by reducing the overall costs, as the current market wages for skilled laborers is on average 60% of the mandated prevailing wages, for such projects. My question would be: Why stop there?  If we are going to decide how taxpayer money is to be spent on community projects, why would we not reduce the overall costs of Municipal projects as well by exempting local government projects? Why are the interests of one set of taxpayers different from those of another?  I have the utmost confidence that our local representatives have pondered these very same questions and that they are dedicated to a fiscally conservative solution to the Prevailing Wage Act debates.  However, the road that lies before them is not an easy one, as there are currently 33 separate bills before the Pennsylvania Congress referencing prevailing wages.  This demonstrates a severe stalemate at the state level with regards to this hot button topic and causes a serious bottleneck in the flow of the Committees’ effectiveness in bringing these bills to the Floor.  One possible solution: Voter Referendum.  By consolidating the debate over the 33 bills into a single referenda and letting the voters decide the fact of prevailing wages, we free up our representatives to address other matters which are currently overshadowed by the redundancy of the prevailing wage issues.

One specific bill which could use some of their attention is Senate Bill 599 (Session of 2013), which is currently co-sponsored by our own Senator Rich Alloway.  This bill is a continuance of the work our own organization addressed earlier this year in support of House Bill 290, which was again co-sponsored by Representatives Moul and Tallman.  The Senate Bill proposes a compromise between the clubs and the retail licensees where the clubs would be allowed an additional 20% of collected funds for specific expenses, while still contributing 50% to community charitable purposes. The retail licensees would be allowed certain games of chance, where 50% of revenues are used for outlined expenses, 20% to community charity and 30% is put into the State General Fund.  This helps eliminate some of the friction between the two types of licensees over the use of small games of chance, and it allows the clubs to address their budget shortfalls caused by previous changes to this Act.  Replacing the 20% lost by the community from the clubs with 20% from the retail licensees may not necessarily equate into a break-even for the community organizations which benefit from these funds, and we should continue to urge our Congress to eliminate the aggregate prize limits of the clubs. Whether our Governor personally agrees or not, we should not restrict our local community organizations that support local infrastructure, nor should we dictate at what levels of participation the local citizens should be allowed to allocate their hard-earning wages into such worthy, charitable endeavors.

When we look at our political system on the national level, we see a polarizing scheme in which Democrats and Republicans argue, twist words and sling insults at one another, only to detach the average American who has more immediate and pressing issues they feel they have more control over in their daily lives.  This reduces the number of voices represented in some of the most important matters facing our nation, and in deed, all The People living on our planet. Their apathy and disillusionment of the federal government filters down into the municipal levels; all because of the constant disagreements of 10% of the population.  Once we return their confidence in our great government, only then can we hope to move forward to a time of reconciliation, unity, peace and prosperity.  We must lead that journey with the unequivocal belief that “It’s not about the parties, it’s about The People”.

David W.S. Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Council and Citizen
Vice-President, Adams County Boroughs Association
Chairman, ACBA Legislative Committee

6,214,854 reg. voters   62%
12,763,536 pop
10,019,375 over 18
17% voted in 2013 Primaries
Majority 51%...or less than 10% of total population.

8% of population choosing who will run for/hold offices making our local decisions.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

ACBA Newsletter Article for May, 2013

"Initiative and referendum (I&R) has existed in some form in this country since the 1600s. Citizens of New England placed ordinances and other issues on the agenda for discussion and then a vote utilizing town meetings. These town hall meetings established the precedent which lead to the creation of the legislative referendum process – a process in which the citizens were entrusted with ratifying laws and amendments proposed by their elected officials. 

James Madison said it best in Federalist 49 when he stated: '[a]s the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived, it seems strictly consonant to the republican theory to recur to the same original authority...whenever it may be necessary to enlarge, diminish, or newmodel the powers of government.'",

For over 200 years, citizens in our country have come to expect that their voices will be heard by their government leaders, however, when the representative do not fully represent the will of The People, it has become the right of the governed to petition their leaders through referendum, either binding or non-binding, and thus demonstrating the purest form of direct democracy.  

When The People want to enact laws they themselves contrive, it is their right to create Initiatives, gathering signatures to petition their leaders to call to vote all those in their jurisdiction and voice their opinions on such matters they see important to them. The government then creates the referendum to poll the constituency, and the outcome of that vote either influences the leaders to themselves vote on specific policy and law (non-binding referendum), or the results  force the elected to enact said law (binding referendum).

Through the use of referendum, The People have created such laws as women gaining the right to vote and electing their leaders through direct primaries, which we will practice tomorrow. It is an invaluable piece of our American government that many others in the world do not have granted to them, and which we sometimes take for granted ourselves.

We, as elected officials in our boroughs, have been chosen by The People to represent their interests, and trust has been bestowed upon us by them to do what we think is best for our communities. However, that trust does not give us "carte blanche" concerning the imposition of OUR wills on policy and law; it is still the responsibility of each one of us to actively poll the opinions of our constituents...actively and often...and bring to conversation equally those topics which are important to the masses as well as the few. However, it is also their RIGHT, nay, their DUTY, as citizens of a free country, to initiate that process when they so deem such appropriate. Let no elected official forget from whence their powers to govern are derived, and thus, let none restrict the power of Voter Referendum.

David "Scotty" Bolton
ACBA Vice-President and Legislative Committee Chairman
McSherrystown Borough Councilman
Concerned Citizen

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Small Games of Chance Resolution

At the McSherrystown Borough Council meeting on April 24th, I presented to the Council, for a third time, two Resolutions for adoption. These resolutions had been tabled in the past, with opposition from some parties on Council as well as the Mayor.  While I respect their opinions on these matters and have the utmost regard for the democratic process, I feel it is my duty to inform the citizens of McSherrystown, as well as those everywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, why I feel so strongly about these resolutions.

Today I would like to discuss the one that did gain support and was adopted, concerning the Small Games of Chance Bill (HB 290).  In the presented resolution which I authored, I call for the elimination of the Aggregate Prize Limits which are currently detrimental to the service clubs and the community. At this time, many of our area clubs such as the Eagles, the Moose, the Home Associations, the Republican Club and others have experienced fines and suspensions, and have had to close their doors for months at a time, because they exceeded the current prize limits of $35,000 a week. When they are closed by the PLCB for these suspensions, it is the community that suffers.

When these clubs and fire companies like SAVES here in McSherrystown sell "jars", have raffles or bingo, they have a specific amount of money they pay to the winner. The rest of the money is collected and 70% of these funds (after the first $40,000, which can be used to cover operational expenses) go straight back into the community through documented charitable donations. McSherrystown has benefited from this when the Police Department received funds for the new speed sign, which helps alert drivers that they are exceeding the speed limit and raises awareness to safety in school zones and other parts of town. Delone Catholic High School received a majority of the funds needed for their new scoreboard from such funds, which are generated by people in the community participating in the small games of chance.  SAVES, being a community organization, is allowed to raise funds for their efforts by having small games of chance at their functions. Over half of their funding comes from such activities, however, they are limited by the same laws as the service organizations.  The fundings generated by these small games of chance have helped the community without burdening the local government budgets or pulling from the taxpayers.

When people in the community support these efforts by patronizing such events, it is my opinion that it is their right to spend their money where they want, knowing that it is directly helping the local community and infrastructure.  It is beyond the proper powers of our government to tell these people that they cannot do so, or to limit their participation by setting limits on the organizations. By removing the prize limits, clubs and organizations would be able to generate more funds for charitable endeavors...can anyone explain to me why this would not be a good thing?  In a time when government funds are scarce and resources are thin from a struggling economy, it makes sense to allow those in the community to support their own purposes and interests by pooling their money together. If they choose to do so in a gaming fashion, so be it. 

Are we limiting the amount of profits that can be generated by big-business casinos in this state?  It is estimated that casinos generate over $1.3 billion in tax revenues a year in Pennsylvania (  The state legislation has backed and even safe-guarded the interests of the casinos for this very reason.  I will say that, when properly utilized as they are supposed to be, these funds do a great service to the residents of our state.  However, this is largely due to the fact that the state legislation has the final say over the allocation of these resources, which I will comment, has NOT always gone towards the endeavors for which they were originally intended.  The reason we have such an issue with the small games of chance limits is obvious...the casinos want that revenue for their own profit and the state wants control over the taxes produced when the casinos get those profits.  When a service organization is allowed to allocate their own funds to the community, it takes the power over that money out of the hands of the state. Therefore, limits and suspensions create opportunities to siphon some of the funds that would be kept here in our area to fund our projects and infrastructure, and they instead go to line the casino owners' pockets and to fill the state coffers, which we then have to petition the state for our share.

I want to thank the McSherrystown Borough Council for supporting my legislation, which passed by a vote of 6-1.  I would also like to extend my appreciate to the Council of Fairfield, who had passed both of my resolutions at their March meeting.  As the Legislative Committee Chairman for the Adams County Boroughs Association, I will be calling for a vote on these resolutions at the upcoming meeting in May. If adopted, I will be forwarding them to the State Congress and the Pennsylvania State Boroughs Association for consideration. It is my hope that we will gain enough support for the change I have proposed to eliminate the aggregate prize limits, and allow local citizens the ability to contribute to their community through small games of chance without restriction.

David "Scotty" Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilman and citizen

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All Things Important to The People...

Representative Government works for The People when EVERYONE is represented. When I first ran for McSherrystown Borough Council, I did so because of the conversations I had with other residents. During those conversations, I discovered that the decisions that were being made by the members of Council were not completely representative of The People with whom I spoke.  Before I joined the Council, all votes on subjects passed with unanimity, and there were very few discussions about what The People thought, and more about what the Council thought.  I will concede, as it was stated at our last Council meeting, that The People elected us to be their voice and to make decisions, but I find it extremely disturbing when I bring the voice of The People, to whom I have spoken at lengths, to the Council and do not receive their support on those subjects.  I am a full supporter of the democratic process, and if a vote is defeated, or does not receive a “second” to even come up for a vote, or when a subject is tabled due to “lack of interest” by the Council to pursue it, although I feel the voice of The People has not prevailed, I do feel that I have done my best to represent them and bring their concerns before the Council, and to defend their issues to the best of my ability, and I will continue to do so for as long as The People will let me!

That being said, what have I done for The People of McSherrystown in the past two months? 

Leash Law:  I was contacted by several citizens who were concerned about dogs not being controlled by their owners.  They wanted to see a Leash Law imposed for dogs on public streets and lands.  I did my research, spoke with the appropriate governmental agencies, and even employed the assistance of Rep. Dan Moul’s office to see what could be done on a local level to have dogs in public leashed.  In short, I discovered that the Borough WAS allowed to pass such a law, which could be enforced by the Police Department and the District Magistrate.  Opposition on Council said the DM would not enforce such a law, from their personal conversations.  I held that it was his prerogative whether he wanted to enforce it, but it is negligent for us as Elected Legislators to ignore the requests of our citizens.  I was also told that we should not pass a law just because ONE PERSON had a complaint.  I believe that when you hear one person who is brave enough to speak out, there are many others in silent agreement, and those are The People that I went out to speak to about this topic, and could find only ONE PERSON not on Council who opposed such a law.  I also believe that, if the Borough is going to pass an unconstitutional law telling you what kind of furniture you have on your porch, in the name of safety (if you remember, they backed up their stances by saying that some furniture could POSSIBLY become infested with rodents and bugs, even though we already had a law on the books to enforce this situation), then it follows that a dog not on a leash is potentially more dangerous than a couch sitting on someone’s porch!  After three meetings of discussion, I brought my Amendment to the Ordinance up for a vote, and received NO SECOND.  Not one member of Council believed that physical control of dogs in public was necessary for the safety of our citizens.

ACBA Resolutions:  I authored two resolutions, after speaking with The People of McSherrystown and other municipal leaders of Adams County. 

--The first would eliminate the limit of how much local service, civic and charitable organizations can raise for the community through the use of Small Games of Chance (House Bill 290, page 6, Line 2-4, Section 302).  As you may know, the State Government and the PLCB limits, fines and suspends the licenses of such clubs as the Moose, the Home Association, the Republican Club, the Eagles and others due to these limits.  The only thing this accomplishes is to take money that is generated by The People out of the community.  This money is used to fund public lands, to provide for police and fire service needs, to support school programs, and much more.  If the money belongs to The People, and they want to use it to support their community through the Small Games of Chance at their local clubs, then it holds to be unconstitutional for any government to deny them. 

--The second resolution would support Senate Bill 65, which would allow local municipalities to decide on issues they want to put on the voting ballots via referendums.  I believe that this is the cornerstone of our democracy; to poll the voices of the voters on important issues.  When I brought this up at the Council meeting, it was tabled, and opposition stated that people vote for us as Council members to make those decisions, and that putting referendums on the ballot would “confuse people” because “most aren’t smart enough to research the topics”.  I cannot disagree more to this rebuttal!  I believe that The People know more than this person thinks, and that if it were known by The People that this was said in a Council meeting by an elected official, there would be a definite backlash.  The People deserve to have their voices heard, and what better way to state what they want than to have them vote on it while voting for the leaders they believe will defend their views?

Although I have the support of the Adams County Boroughs Association (ACBA) and several other Boroughs in Adams County, who have or plan to pass my legislation on a local and county level, and in light of the fact that the Pennsylvania State Boroughs Association (PSAB) is considering both resolutions for adoption on a state level, I am having difficulty gathering support from my own Council.  I hope that YOU will make your voice heard by calling the Borough Office at 717-637-1838 and tell them you support my resolutions, or by attending the next Council meeting on Wednesday, April 24th at 7pm at the Borough Office and telling the Council to let your voice be heard!

Hanover Regional Economic Development Committee:  Being assigned to the Steering Committee, I was happy to reach out to community leaders to join us in our efforts to bring more businesses and jobs to the area.  I am excited about the direction we are taking with our efforts, and it is essential to everyone’s benefit for us to find businesses who will come to our area and create more jobs for our citizens and thus better the living conditions for everyone.  I was honored to be able to recruit Tommy Hufnagle (Winner’s Circle owner) and Troy Wentz (Business Manager for Hanover Public School District) to the Steering Committee last week.  I believe that Tommy has his finger on the pulse of culture in Hanover, as he has big plans to bring a true musical venue to the area with his expansions of the Winner’s Circle.  Mr. Wentz will bring invaluable information to the Committee in formulating what courses could be implemented in the local school districts to support the businesses we currently have and also the ones we wish to attract.

York Waste Management agreement:  The Borough’s contract with York Waste has concluded its three year segment, and they have the right to extend the agreement under the same terms for two more years.  However, Council heard from Don Isabella that the company wished to only extend the residential service, as the commercial service is not profitable for them.  I argued that the original contract stated that it could be extended “under the same terms”, and by picking and choosing which part the company wanted to extend based on profitability was not in the interest of The People.  Why?  If the Borough only bids out the commercial part of the contract, it will not get as good an over-all rate as if both residential and commercial are bid.  Also, if you remember, York Waste petitioned the Council to limit the number of bags YOU were allowed to put out last year to three, because they were picking up “too much” and again, it wasn’t profitable for them.  This company has repeated shown that they are concerned more about their bottom line than they are about fulfilling the promises made in their bid contract.  When a Pro Athlete wants to change their contract in mid-stream, the cries go out that they are being self-centered and not being a team player.  I feel the same way about this contract, and I was very vocal at the last Council meeting that I am not in favor of continuing with any extension that is not in line with the original agreement.  As of the writing of this blog, York Waste has NOT replied by the deadline of last Friday to extend the full contract.  Council will vote at our next meeting to advertise bids for the next contract.  I am hopeful that we will be able to get local service at a comparable price who will put The People first!

There is so much more that I would love to discuss with you, but I see that I have gotten a bit long-winded, so I will save my other topics for the next blog.  Please call on me anytime; I'm always around!  Thank you once again for allowing me to represent YOU on the McSherrystown Borough Council, and I hope that you will support me in my re-election bid on May 21st at the polls. 

David “Scotty” Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilman and citizen

Friday, February 1, 2013

Busy First Month of 2013

Hope everyone had a great January. It sure has been tumultuous on the weather front. Similarly, we have had some very interesting events in local government. Let's get started...

McSherrystown Borough Council:

At the January 9th meeting, we were informed by Borough Manager Scott Cook that the state's Act 108, which is a disposal ban on computer supplies and equipment, has mandated that we can no longer dispose of these types of items in the regular recycling/garbage pick-up. They must be recycled through the types of e-Recycling program our Borough currently participates in, in conjunction with the York County Solid Waste Authority via Penn Township. If you have old computer monitors, towers, etc. that you need to recycle, please contact the Borough Office for drop-off times and locations. You can also speak to one of the area computer repair businesses who will often recycle them into usable units again.

We were informed of a sewer back-up issue on N. 2nd Street by a resident there. We contacted USG, who had done our camera work for the Sanitary Sewer Maintenance for us just a few months ago, and they confirmed that there is a 75% blockage of the line beyond the curb, which the Borough has accepted responsibility to repair (usually it is the homeowner's responsibility for lines beyond the main tie-in). The first option explored was to use a type of "balloon" repair to seal the line, but with the extent of the damage, it will be necessary to dig up the line and physically repair it. As that part of the street is state (PennDot) road, we needed to apply for a permit to dig it up. We have done so, with the permit lasting two months starting April 15th. This will give us time after winter to get in there and do the work, but also PennDot plans to repave that road this summer, so doing the work at that time will save Borough money in retopping costs after the work is completed. Also, we were informed that the costs for the camera/line cleaning performed by USG was adjusted from $16,283.25 to $14,504.28 (eliminating duplicate fees), which saved us even more from the original budget of $25K for the project. Council approved the balance owed to be paid to the company ($8,141 was sent in December).

The Borough was able to collect over $10K in costs and fees coming from liens on two properties in town after Sheriff sales. These funds were in direct relation to municipal bills that were not paid by the owners after several years. There are still more liens of this sort that are outstanding, and the Borough is committed to collecting these amounts to offset the costs paid by the rest of the citizenry.

The Council discussed the Adams County Transportation Planning Organization's initiative to unit the Hanover Urban Area under a common MPO. Adams County municipalities outside of Gettysburg, Conewago Township and McSherrystown are in favor of having a County-specific MPO to apply for state and federal funding for various projects, however, the federal government, following the recommendations of the Census Bureau, has identified our very specific local area as one that will be expanding rapidly over the next 10 years. Although we cross county lines, the metropolitan area is recognized as being viable outside of county designations. Council voted unanimously to continue working with the Hanover Urban area in this pursuit, as it will serve to offer more success in acquiring grants and funds for local projects, such as the Hanover Area Regional Economic Development Committee, and as we already participate in Joint Bidding endeavors with these municipalities.

Adams County Boroughs Association:

At the January meeting, I was installed as Vice-President and Chairman of the Legislative Committee. I discussed my resolve to eliminate unfunded state and federal mandates on local municipalities, which ultimately cost our taxpayers more for programs that are not directly controlled at our local level.
Senate Resolution 323 of 2010 reviewed these mandates and made many suggestions as to the elimination of a bulk of the 6500 identified, many of which are archaic (some dating back to the early 1800s). One such mandate which the County Commissioners have done away with recently was the $12,000 yearly salary paid to the Jury Commissioner, who was in charge of picking jurors for the county. Since the 1970s, this job has been accomplished by computers, and thus, no person was needed to perform this task, although the County had been paying the salary each year.  I will have more on this as my Legislative Committee discusses other concerns, such as the Prevailing Wage mandate, which increases costs to local municipalities by 30-70% for work done by contract, such as road paving, construction, etc.  CLICK HERE to view the Task Force report and to review these mandates in detail.

I also discussed Senate Bill 65 for the 2013-2014 of the State Senate which is currently in the Local Government Committee. Memo #9 states this is an Act amending Title 53 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for local referenda.  As Senator Kim Ward writes, "Currently, there are few special circumstances where local governments can put measures on the ballot for voter approval or denial. Beyond increased debt proposals and special legislative provisions, these local governments do not have the ability to seek the will of the populace in large scale projects or measures. My legislation would broaden the ability of local governments to use voter referendums on items like tax increases, capital projects and ordinances."

I am fully in support of our voters' having the right to tell us directly on ballot how they feel we should direct our legislation on a local level.  Anyone wishing to contact Senator Ward can reach her at 717-787-6063.

I was also asked to serve as the alternate representative to the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs on the Resolutions and Policy Committee. This assignment will aid our own Legislative Committee to be more involved in state level concerns and representing local constituents' interests against those of the larger metropolitan areas of the state, namely Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

On February 6th, I will be a panelist for the Penn State Extension Workshop titled "Toss Your Hat in the Ring, How to Get Involved in Local Government".  With almost 20 people signed up to attend, they will get information on what to do if they would like to run for local office. Monica Dutko from the Adams County Office of Elections will also be there to answer questions. The cost is $25, and is good for those who want to get involved or as a refresher for those who are already serving.

I WILL ALSO BE RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION THIS SPRING/FALL!  As you may know, I ran for and won a two year term in the write-in campaign from 2011. This year, I will be coming around to get my petitions signed and to get the news out about what I am doing to represent the people of McSherrystown. I would appreciate any and all support in my efforts for re-election. You can contact me directly if you would like to help with getting signatures for my petition. The video below explains the process, which begins today and runs through March 12th.

I hope that I am serving your interests, and as always, I am available to talk about any concerns you may have for the Borough, County or State. I have begun to use a new mobile video app on my Facebook page to keep everyone more informed in a more personal format. These posts are labeled for public viewing, so you can subscribe to my posts and be able to view it without adding me to your personal list. CLICK HERE for my Facebook address.  You can also email me directly....CLICK HERE TO EMAIL ME NOW.

Thank you for allowing me to be your voice to our local government!

For Liberty!

David "Scotty" Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilman and citizen

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 Wrap-up and a Look Ahead to 2013

Welcome back, citizens and friends! I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, a joyous holiday season and a great start to the New Year.  I have a few brief updates I wish to share with you concerning the matters involving your local government's activities over the past month.

Borough Budget and Taxes for the Coming Year

I am happy to report that I supported the 2013 budget, which passed unanimously, and is one of the few balanced budgets of the area municipalities without a tax increase for the fourth consecutive year. The 2013 balanced budget has $1,699,666 in revenues and expenditures.  With a millage of 3.1256, the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 will continue to pay $312.56 in municipal taxes.

The biggest "line item" to the budget is our Police Department, accounting for 24.1% of the total budget.  As reported in The Evening Sun, "One of the largest expenditures in the budget is for police protection at $410,704 for the four-man police department, which consists of a chief, sergeant and two patrolmen. In accordance with the contract, police wages were increased by 3.5 percent in 2013. McSherrystown's police had no salary increase in 2012.

For 2013, police salaries are set at $65,403 for the chief; $57,557 for the sergeant; 54,747 for one patrolman, $51,165 for the second patrolman. The budget also allows $19,000 for police overtime.  Another $3,500 is earmarked in Police Protection specifically for the salary of school crossing guards.

State mandated benefits for the police department are expected to cost a total of $110,982 in 2013, compared to the $101,688 spent for the same benefits in 2012. Benefits are also part of the police contract and are a non-negotiable item in the budget, said borough officials."

Let me first state that I believe our Police Department is second to none in protecting the people of McSherrystown, and in ideology, you cannot put a price on the safety of our citizens. That being said, the harsh reality is that this comfort comes with a price.  With estimations based on the increases to the benefits over the past year of $9,294 (+9.1%) and the salary increases of 3.5%, as well as upkeep, fuel and replacement of the vehicles and facilities, we will be faced with a minimum mandated increase of $18,862.38 in police protection expenditures for next year's budget. Some hard choices will have to be made in determining what our resources will support next year.  Will we accept a reduction in police coverage from our current force, will we look to consolidate or merge with another area department, or will we accept the inevitable tax increase that will be necessary to keep our current department intact?  These answers will ultimately come from the people of McSherrystown, should they choose to voice their opinions, lest they defer their rights and put the decision in the hands of the current Council. 

We must also realize that we have a debt to the Hanover Borough of $1,192,531 for upgrades to the public sewer system.  This agreement was penned by the Council in 2011, prior to my arrival.  McSherrystown paid $395,000 to Hanover in February 2012, and a payment of $132,000, which includes a 4% interest rate, is due in 2013.

This was a necessary expense due to the federal mandates regarding run-off concentrations into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  These mandates from the EPA and DEP, being greatly unfunded by the federal or state governments,  must be absorbed by the local taxpayers.  It should be noted that the next round of upgrades, which were originally projected to be needed in 10 years, are now estimated for consideration in 14 years, according to Ed Reed of the Hanover Borough.  Their foresight in the local needs due to growth and expansion will help us stave off the next round of upgrades for 4 more years, and I applaud their efforts.

Other large-item expenditures for 2013 are: 

Total administration - $206,556
     $58,870 for the borough supervisor's salary 
     $47,341 for the secretary/treasurer
     $9,768 for the wages of a part-time clerk/typist. 

Municipal buildings - $39,500
Fire Protection - $69,011 including $24,640 for the SAVES building fund project (Mortgage payments)
Zoning and Planning - $15,500
Highways - $188,437
Parks and Recreation - $22,250
Police Pensions - $59,882
Non-uniformed employee pensions - $65,650.

Adams County Borough Association Representation

As some of you may already know, I have been elected by the ACBA to serve as the Vice-President for the coming year. The ACBA is a governmental group consisting of representatives from 13 boroughs including Abbottstown, Arendtsville, Bendersville, Biglerville, Bonneauville, Carroll Valley, East Berlin, Fairfield, Gettysburg, Littlestown, McSherrystown, New Oxford and York Springs.

My primary responsibilities will be to monitor state-level legislation via the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs and in coordination with our local representatives to the Capitol.  I have been asked to form and chair a Legislative Committee made up of elected officials from the various boroughs, and to review and recommend action on legislation that will affect the constituency of Adams County.  I will also be working to update the ACBA website to keep the citizens informed of our activities, in efforts to get more people involved with our local, county and state government dealings.

The Evening Sun reported, "There are about 6,500 unfunded state mandates that the municipalities are required to pay for despite having no state or federal funding coming in for those mandates," Bolton said. "If the state is mandating these things, they should be giving us at least some money to help pay for them. State mandates are a hardship on our local taxpayers."  One such mandate is the Prevailing Wage Law.

"According to the website "Pennsylvania's Prevailing Wage Law was enacted in 1961 to protect construction workers from out-of-state competition, mandating that contractors pay the wages that 'prevail' in each region on all government construction projects more than $25,000. This limits the number of construction jobs in the state and forces state and local governments to unnecessarily spend more taxpayer money."

I will say that I am not in favor of depending on the state or federal governments to fund our local activities.  However, I am opposed to them dictating what we must spend our money on without giving back some of the funds we send them in taxes each year to pay for those mandates.  This type of governmental regulation is exactly why I am so passionate about representing the people of McSherrystown at the county and state levels.  I believe if we are to take care of our matters at home, we must be able to retain our tax funds locally in lieu of sending them to the upper levels to be handed out to other areas of the state and country.  

One of the biggest travesties our local area faces currently is the Small Games of Chance Bill that will take effect in February.  This Law will limit the amount of community funds generated to support our local functions, such as SAVES, as well as contributions from local service and community organizations.  Without the ability to raise the necessary funds in our community, through our own choices of where to spend our own money, our local infrastructure will be drastically and detrimentally effected.  There are some in the state legislation who are pushing for a repeal of this Law, and I urge you to contact our local representatives at the state level to voice your concerns over this draconian infringement of your right to put your money back into your community!

Hanover Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades

I had the opportunity to tour the upgrades to the Hanover Wastewater Treatment Facility last month. I can say that they have done some great work, and I appreciate the explanations we received from Ed Reed, Hanover's Asst. Borough Manager.  The Evening Sun did a wonderful article on the tour, which included this quote..

"It's definitely a needed infrastructure and I think they planned it out well," McSherrystown Councilman David Bolton said after the tour.  "It's very impressive. They put a lot of money into this project. Everything looks great," Bolton said.

Hanover Regional Economic Development Committee

I am happy to report that Shanna Terroso from the York/Adams Regional Smart Growth Coalition, was able to secure a private grant from the Realtor's Association to fund McSherrystown's and Conewago Township's participation in this endeavor for the coming year in full.  I have received a sample Resolution to present to Council at our meeting on the 9th of this month showing our commitment to this project, designed to identify our region's economic strengths and to promote them to businesses, in efforts to attract them to our area and ultimately creating jobs for our people.  I am very excited about working with leaders from both York and Adams County to boost the local economy.

Final Council Meeting of 2012

The final meeting saw a vote on the above-mentioned budget, a review of the costs to fix our street sweeper and the reserve capital for a "new" sweeper in a few years, the passing of the 2013 Tax Ordinances (maintained from the rates/charges from 2012), and several Resolutions for the various charges necessary for daily operations of the Borough (also noting there were no increases to these from 2012).

A review of the work done by USG on the Sanitary Sewer Maintenance (which I posted previously) saw all work completed and areas identified for future repairs.  Detailed information can be acquired from the Borough Office should you be interested.

As always, I am here to answer any questions you may have or address any concerns that affect your rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Please contact me anytime...I'm always around!  A happy and safe 2013 to you all.

David Bolton
McSherrystown Borough Councilman and citizen.