Pocopson supervisors address Barnard loan questions

Statement says no open space taxes will be used to pay for building renovation

By Kelli Siehl, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com

The Barnard House, slated to become the new Pocopson municipal building, but questions remains about how to finance the renovation of the 180-year-old building.

POCOPSON — Township Supervisors opened last night’s meeting with Supervisors’ Chair, Steve Conary addressing residents’ concerns over the proposed use of excess open space funding to renovate the historic Barnard House.

Reading from a prepared statement, Conary gave a brief history and time line associated with the open space referendum, funds borrowed and why there is an excess of one million dollars available today. He clarified, “no open space tax revenues would be used to pay off any portion of a loan” slated for the re-purposing of the Barnard House.

Instead, if the board elects to proceed with renovations after realistic costs are known, a portion of the unused open space loan would be reclassified “as a general fund loan.” Conary noted that this would allow the township to “take advantage of the existing low (2.7%) interest rate, avoid significant pre-payment penalties and avoid new loan application and processing fees.”

Discussions are currently underway with Delaware Valley Regional Finance Authority, the township’s lender, to determine the lowest cost option for the township as these choices, including the reclassification of funds to renovate the Barnard House, are considered.

Conary stressed that the township has no plan to spend one million dollars on the Barnard House and “recent efforts have focused on ways to reduce the costs to the minimum necessary to make the building usable.”

Although the statement explains that work has already been completed to correct structural issues, more is still needed “to keep the 180 plus year old historical building from deteriorating.”

Conary stated that once the costs are clear, the board will make a choice under the “applicable provisions of the Pennsylvania Second Class Township Code.”

To view the statement in its entirety, click here.

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  1. Carol says:

    Let’s not forget that the Barnard House and surrounding land were donated to the township. This project accomplishes many objectives – preserves a significant part of our township/national civial war history, places our township office in the center of the township in a beautiful setting and longterm, I believe makes Pocopson more desirable to live in and therefore contributes to the value of our real estate. The supervisors have clearly stated on the Pocopson website all the details of the finances and are not using Open Space money. They are working hard to reduce the cost of the project, therefore the lowering of the originally stated price tag. I think that once this is completed, it will be easier to find our township office, since many walk the trails there already. From my perspective, this is a win-win for Pocopson.

    • Sean says:

      Carol, spending a million dollars on the Bernard House will not effect our property values whatsoever. What it may do is lower our bond rating. That in turn will cost us more money when the need to borrow money arises. We are a small rural township with limited resources. Why can’t this go to a vote, and then the public may decide whether or not they want it. We will hopefully use the extra million dollars of Open Space money to close out the other loans that were taken out at higher interest rates. That is the smart resolution to this problem.

  2. Sean says:

    While the supervisors are all dedicated and mean well, this loan situation causes me some concern. I was publicly against the open space referendum and it appears as though my fears were legitimate. How much money did the taxpayers spend to convince three property owners to sell some of their development rights? I sincerely doubt that Mrs. Cousins would have ever developed her land. Now we want to use open space funds to renovate the Bernard House. This venture will cost close to a million dollars when completed, mark my words. And why did they take out a loan last fall with a :”big” early repayment penalty when they knew the open space initiative was in its final days. It was obvious that they were not going to have a mad rush of landowners jumping in at the end of 2011, especially when you consider the fact that it took five years to attract three landowners to participate in program to begin with. So, why did they borrow an extra one million plus dollars? No pun intended, but that is the million dollar question. The only way to resolve this issue is to allow the voters to decide whether they want to take on more debt to renovate the Bernard House through a bond referendum. That will allow the voice of the people to be heard and the issue can then be put to rest.

  3. steve says:

    Why is any renovation of the barnard house necessary? Why is this a “need”? How does the average township resident benefit from this? This smells like a “special interest” project that the “special interests” don’t want to pay for and so are sticking on the taxpayers, most of whom don’t know where it is and who will never step foot in it.

  4. Turk182 says:

    Um, not to be picky, but didn’t the Supervisors say in January the budget was between $800,000 and $1 million? Looks like a backtrack from here…

    And you wonder why people don’t trust this process. Maybe a bond referendum, with all of the costs and scope of the project laid out in detail, is the best way to go here. It’s a lot of money for a “want” as opposed to a “need.”

    Let the people decide.

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