Pocopson OKs regional EMS Commission plan

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By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times

POCOPSON – Supervisors Ricki Stumpo and Alice Balsama (Elaine DiMonte was not in attendance) quickly moved through the agenda Monday night at the Pocopson Township meeting, as only one resident – other than those employed by the township and the press – sat in the audience. The resident had much to say regarding his dissatisfaction in the formation of a commission for Emergency Management Services (EMS) with six neighboring municipalities.

The commission was recommended after a task force was formed in 2013 to review the allocation of funds to Longwood, Kennett and Po-Mar-Lin fire companies. A consultant was hired and a 200+ page study was conducted to mandate spending, allocation of funds and to provide transparency to residents.

Stumpo, who served on the task force said that the Kennett Fire and EMS Regulatory Commission will collaborate resources and funds with East Marlborough, Kennett, Kennett Borough, Newlin, Pennsbury and Pocopson townships. Members will include representation from each municipality and each fire department to serve a one-year term and then three years after the initial term. Members cannot have served EMS within the last five years.

Allocations of funds will take into consideration population, assumed value, and number of fire and EMS responses.

These considerations will make Pocopson taxpayers responsible for approximately 14 percent ($239,000) of the overall funds for the first three years, beginning in January 2018.

“It is money-wise and it couldn’t be better…This way the money is allocated by municipalities,” said Stumpo.

Balsama added, “The foundation of the commission seems to be showing financial responsibility and remaining committed to townships…It can be seen in black and white what the calculations are and how the county will update it every year. If we feel it’s disconnected then action can be taken.”

The resident interjected and exclaimed, “There are so many issues with this commission…Who is going to decide on buying equipment? Who approves requests for raises?…I’m concerned the commission would not have the expertise and they are going to acquiesce and refer back to the fire companies and buy big buck equipment…This happens everywhere. I’m concerned with spending and overkill, to be honest.”

“That’s exactly what we [the commission] are trying to stop,” countered Stumpo.

The resident exchanged some heated comments with the township’s Public Works Director Mark Knightly, previously Chief at Longwood Fire Company, about establishing independence for hospitals to man their own ambulances and save money instead of giving jobs to their own within the fire companies.

“They are not members of the fire company. I’m sorry, but I have to speak up because I am a member of the fire company. They are hired outside. For whatever reason you had a bad experience…it is a completely different thing around here,” retorted Knightly.

The supervisors and Knightly agreed, contrary to the resident’s counter attack, that the commission is trying to establish independence and mandate cost to township residents. Stumpo thanked the resident for his comments and in the end, the supervisors voted in favor to approve the motion to have the township solicitor review the study and recommendations.

In other controversial township news, an update to the status of the feasibility study for occupancy of the Barnard House was briefly given. The final top three companies – chosen by the supervisors from the original 19 responses – will meet at the end of June.

The feasibility study was advertised several months ago to gather information by third parties on the appropriateness of occupancy for the historic Barnard House after much debate whether it was suitable for municipal offices. The proposals varied in price for the plans from $6,900 to $60,000 and timelines from six weeks to 16 weeks.

The supervisors approved a resolution for the sale of Motrim Flail mowers – no longer necessary for township operations. The mowers will be listed on Municibid in hopes of obtaining high bids for the sales.

Also approved was the advertising for a public hearing on July 10 to adopt a floodplain ordinance for the township that is within FEMA guidelines.

The next township meeting will be held on Monday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m.

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