Newlin supervisors signal support for prevailing wage change

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Supervisors asks legislators to pass HB1329 to cut municipal building costs

By Catherine Britt, Correspondent, UnionvilleTimes.com

NEWLIN — Township supervisors joined the chorus of townships across the state in support of proposed changes to the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act provided for in House Bill 1329.  In their monthly meeting on March 12, the Supervisors approved a motion to encourage the General Assembly to support these changes.

Under the original 1961 Act, when a township’s public work contract exceeded $25,000, the contract had to contain a minimum wage rate based on the prevailing wage in that locality (including any collective bargaining benefits).  Any and all work completed under the contract was subject to this provision.

Since 1961, there has been no increase in the $25,000 threshold.  The proposed Amendments seek to raise the threshold to $185,000 and provide for its adjustment on an annual basis to conform with the US Department of Labor Consumer Price Index.  This would have an immediate effect on township budgets.   As noted by Newlin Supervisor Bob Pearson, some recent contracts have cost the township up to 50% more than they might have under the amended bill.  If passed, the Supervisors believe this could result in substantial savings for the township.

In other action, Supervisors Kelsall and Pearson signed off on the final plan for the Natural Land Trust’s proposed additions to the ChesLen Preserve.   The 1,263 Acre Preserve is one of the largest private nature preserves in Southeastern Pennsylvania and includes almost 12 miles of unpaved trails.   The plan involves use of a 20 acre tract within the preserve that will be accessed off of Cannery Road.  According to Roger Nichols, the Preserve Manager, after demolition of some old buildings on the property the land will be used for a new maintenance facility and a new visitor center will be constructed as well.  Demolition will begin in April and construction is scheduled to start in May, said Mr. Nichols.

Close to the ChesLen property sits the historic Star Gazers’ stone.  The stone was used by Jeremiah Dixon and Charles Mason in 1764 as one of three astronomical observation points used to survey the famous Mason-Dixon Line, which lies 15 miles to the south of the stone.  The township recently settled on a five acre tract of land overlooking the stone.  The property was purchased with a combination of state and county grants and funds coming directly from Newlin Township.   The township is planning a dedication ceremony in the near future.

In other news:

The Township’s Secretary, Gail Abel, has started a search for a new banking institution for the township’s general account since the former bank was purchased in a merger and the new bank’s interest rates are near zero.

The Township submitted an application to FEMA for reimbursement of costs associated with last fall’s storms.  They recently received reimbursement for over $11,000.00.

The Supervisors discussed the issue of using nearby pond water to help extinguish fires.  Supervisor Pearson pointed out that a pond needs to have a stand pipe in order to be an effective tool for fire fighters.   Supervisor Kelsall suggested forming a committee in conjunction with the Historical Committee to look into mapping Township ponds in order to aid in firefighting.

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