Thursday, December 31, 2015

Calling all volunteers!

If you've ever wanted to help out your local town, our local municipalities are looking for residents to step up.
The following towns are looking for locals willing to serve on various boards and commissions - will update this as we learn of more:

NORTH WALES - One seat on borough council from Ward 1 is currently open, due to the resignation of former council member Christine Hart to become borough Manager. Any resident 18 years old or older who lives in Ward 1 can apply by Jan. 8 for consideration by council at a future meeting.
Several other volunteer boards and bodies are also in need of volunteers:
Historical Architectural Review Board: needed are an architect, broker and inspector
North Wales Historic Commission
Nor-Gwyn Pool Commission
North Wales Water Authority
Parks and Recreation Board
Pension Committee
Planning commission
Shade Tree commission
Vacancy Board chairman
Zoning hearing board

Anyone interested in any of those positions is asked to send a letter of interest and an overview of their qualifications to Hart or attention of Borough Council, mailing address 300 School Street, North Wales PA 19454, or contact Hart at (215) 699-4424 extension 111 or by emailing

2016 calendars - UPDATED 1/12

It's that time of year again - more precisely, the end of one and the start of another. As we're right on the brink of 2016, our local municipalities are starting to line up their schedules of local meeting dates and times throughout the year. Most of our munis will pass 2016 calendars during their reorganization meetings on Jan. 4 and I'll update as we get those, but here are the ones we know so far:

Council will keep a similar schedule as in 2015, with committee meetings starting at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month and reporting back to council at 9 p.m., and a business meeting two weeks later on the third Wednesday.
Committees at 7 p.m., work sessions at 9 p.m.: February 3, March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1, July 6, August 3, September 7, October 5, November 2, December 7.
Business meeting at 7 p.m.: January 20, February 17, March 16, April 20, May 18, June 15, July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21.
Other Lansdale meetings:
- Planning Commission at 7:30 p.m. on third Monday of each month except in February (22nd instead of 15th)
- Economic Development Committee at 6:30 p.m. on third Monday of each month, except Feb. 22 instead of 15th
- Zoning hearing board at 7:30 p.m. on third Tuesday of each month
- Parking Authority at 7 p.m. on second Wednesday of each month
- Communication Commission on second Tuesday of the month, once per quarter - January 12, April 12, July 12, October 11.
All Lansdale meetings will be held at the borough municipal complex, 1 Vine Street; for details or agendas visit or follow @LansdalePA on Twitter for more.

Hatfield's commissioners held their reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4, and have approved the following calendar of 2016 meeting dates and times.
All board meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m. on the following dates, at the township administration building, 1950 School Road:
Workshop meetings - Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8, July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 2, Dec. 7.
Business meetings: Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 23, April 27, May 25, June 22, July 27, Aug. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 16, Dec. 21.
The following boards and commissions will also meet at these dates and times:
Planning Commission - third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.
Parks and Recreation board - first Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
Pool Advisory Board - second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Shade Tree Commission - third Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
Planning and Zoning committee - fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m.
Environmental Advisory Committee - third Monday of even-numbered months at 6 p.m.
Hatfield's board and staff have also held a special meeting on Jan. 6 to discuss the plans to extend the Frick's Trail from a house near Line Lexington Road, west across Orvilla Road to connect with School Road Park. Hatfield's staff discussed the trail project during budget meetings over the past two months, and showed a video of what the current trail route looks like walking through the wilderness - start at 35 minutes in on the Nov. 18 video for details, and visit or follow @HatfieldPA on Twitter for more.

Upper Gwynedd's commissioners held their reorganization meetingon Jan. 4, and approved during their final meeting of 2015 the following schedule of meetings:
Workshop meetings at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 15, April 19, May 17, June 21, July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15, Dec. 13.
Business meetings at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 28, April 25, May 23, June 27, July 25, Aug. 22, Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 21, Dec. 19.
The township's planning commission is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, Feb. 1, March 7, April 4, May 2, June 13, July 11, Aug. 1, Sept. 7, Oct. 5, Nov. 2, and Dec. 5.
The zoning hearing board meets at 7 p.m. on Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 22, April 18, May 24, June 28, July 26, Aug. 23, Sept. 27, Oct, 25, Nov. 22 and Dec. 20.
Upper Gwynedd's Parks and Recreation board is slated to meet at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11, March 14, M ay 9, Aug. 8 (to plan to township summer carnival), Sept. 12, and Nov. 14.
The Police pension board meets at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 17, May 18, Aug. 17 and Nov. 16.
The Nor-Gwyn Pool Commission is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month: Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, and Dec. 15.
All meetings will be held at the township administration building, 1 Parkside Place. For more information or meeting agendas and details visit

Montgomery Township's supervisors will hold their reorganization meeting starting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4, and on the agenda for that meeting is approval of a 2016 meeting schedule. Meetings will be held at 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, with no Jan. 11 meeting due to Jan. 4 also serving as an action meeting night.
Subsequent board meetings will be held at 8 p.m. on: Jan. 25,  Feb. 8 and 22, March 14 and 18, April 11 and 25, May 9 and 23, June 13 and 27, July 11 and 25, August 8 and 22, September 12 and 26, October 11 and 24, November 14 and 28, and Dec. 12. All meetings will be held at the township administration building, 1001 Stump Road, except for the Jan. 4 reorganization meeting at the new township community and recreation center just across the street at 1030 Horsham Road. For more information or meeting agendas and materials visit or follow @MontTwp on Twitter.

Towamencin's supervisors have approved the following 2016 meeting schedule, with all meetings to be held at 7:30 p.m. at the township administration building, 1090 Troxel Road:
Work sessions - Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8, July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 14.
Business meetings: Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 23, April 27, May 25, June 22, July 27, Aug. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 22 *Tuesday due to Thanksgiving holiday* and Dec. 28.

Borough council has approved a 2016 meeting schedule with council meetings held at 7 p.m. at the borough municipal building, 300 School Street, on the following dates:
Jan. 12 and 26, Feb. 9 and 23, March 8 and 22, April 12 and 19 *moved due to primary election*; May 10 and 24, June 14 and 28, July 12 and 26, Aug. 9 and 23, Sept. 13 and 27, Oct. 11 and 25, Nov. 1 *moved due to general election* and 22, and Dec. 6 and 13.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Stricker stories

This week Lansdale lost an iconic figure, with the passing at age 84 of former councilman and longtime Lansdale Cemetery caretaker Dick Stricker.

Stricker led an effort in the early 1960s to clean up and preserve the cemetery, and served on its board of directors as caretaker and superintendent from 1964 until it was handed over to Lansdale Borough in 2013.
Several borough officials shared their memories about Stricker following a moment of silence during Wednesday night's council meeting, including borough Manager Jake Ziegler, who said Stricker was one of the first councilmen he met when he started working for the borough.
"For some reason, right off the bat he just always kept calling me 'Misterrrr Ziegler' - I don't know why, but that was Dick, and that was the way it was always going to be," Ziegler said.
"Over the years I went on various tours with Dick around the borough. Most, if not all, of those tours wound up either passing through or ending up at the cemetery. It was really close to Dick's heart," he said, calling Stricker "truly a Lansdale borough citizen for life."
Mayor Andy Szekely said Stricker was one of the borough's "most colorful characters...he was my most frequent visitor in the Mayor's office, and certainly the most entertaining."
Szekely posted on his blog his memories of conversations with Stricker, sharing stories of how the longtime Lansdale Historical Society member tore out a large wooden staircase in his home to make room for rental apartments, yet would help those who fell behind on their rent.
" As a single man, to have a gigantic house was not his style; he was practical and made money off of the buildings and provided housing for others. Very utilitarian and very characteristic of Lansdale," Szekely wrote.  Any other Stricker stories can be posted here, on Szekely's blog, or sent to the Historical Society.
Councilman Jack Hansen said during his term as council President in 2009 he'd hold public office hours, and every time Stricker walked in, "he would sit where my back was to the clock."
"Now, my office hours normally ended at 11 (a.m.), and somewhere around 11:15 or 11:30 he would say 'I've taken up enough of your time,' and leave. That was enjoyable," Hansen said.
Those visits continued to Hansen's home after his term as council president ended, and "he always came in with something good for the borough. That was his whole agenda, because Dick loved Lansdale, and Lansdale will miss him."
Council member Mary Fuller took over the leadership of the cemetery board after the borough takeover, and said she and Stricker would share stories about family members buried in the cemetery.
"To know Dick was to love him. At the heart of it, he truly was all about Lansdale. He gave his heart and soul when he served on council," she said.
During cemetery board meetings in recent years, "he would often say 'I'm not gonna be here, I'm not gonna be here,' and as much as he would say that, I just never believed it," Fuller said.
The cemetery board is currently working on plans to put a plaque at the entrance to the cemetery honoring the original board, and Stricker was glad that project was in the works.
"I know that he passed knowing that the cemetery was in good hands, and I guess that's a good thing because that'll be his future home," Fuller said.
Councilman Jason Van Dame said, similar to other stories of how Stricker would corner council members in their homes, something similar happened the first time Stricker visited him.
"My wife answered the door and told him I was at work, so being Dick, he let himself in and sat down and told her everything he was planning to tell me. He was a character, colorful, and he was definitely proud of this town."
Councilman Steve Malagari said Stricker "always had a big, bright smile on his face" and would introduce Malagari to others as "our new councilman," referring to Ward 1. On one particular run-in at the Fairmount Fire Company's firehouse, "he said, 'Did you know my name is on the plaque inside that building? When I was on council, I helped build this.'"
"Dick wasn't doing it to boast, he was doing it to say how proud he was. And every time after that, he said 'Do you know my name is on that plaque?' and every time I said 'No, I didn't.' and he'd show me every time."
"Rest in peace, Dick. I'll see you in the cemetery, and hopefully we can keep his memory eternal," Malagari said.

Friends and relatives can pay respects during services at Huff & Lakjer Funeral Home, 701 Derstine Ave. in Lansdale, from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 27 and starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 28. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., followed by entombment in the mausoleum. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Stricker’s memory to the Lansdale Historical Society, 137 Jenkins Ave., Lansdale, PA 19446.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election day is finally here!

At long last, the day we've been waiting for!

Once you're done reading this, be sure to minimize this page and go out and vote - and be sure to use #Montcovote to let us know where you did and if it was busy!

If you haven't already cast your vote, here is our rundown of the local races in our area with info from them in their own words:

NORTH WALES - Democrat Sal Amato and Republican Martha Lottes are running for one North Wales Ward 3 seat

HATFIELD TOWNSHIP - Democrat Scott Brown chose not to run again in Ward 1, so Democrat Bob Miller and Republican Laura Thomas are both seeking that seat:

Over in Ward 5, a very familiar race: Republican Gerry Andris and Democrat Tom Landauer are running against each other for the third time:

UPPER GWYNEDD: Incumbent Republicans Ken Kroberger, Jim Santi and Tom Duffy are opposed by  Democrat challengers Kathryn Carlson, Liz McNaney and Rob Wilkinson:

Right here in LANSDALE, control of council is in the balance as four incumbent Democrats face Republican challengers, and Republican incumbent Ray Liberto is on the ballot but not campaigning against Democrat Carrie Hawkins Charlton:

Ward 1 Democrat Steve Malagari is opposed by Republican Thomas York

Democrat Denton Burnell is opposed by Republican challenger Rebecca Faucette in Ward 3

and former councilman Len Schmidt and newcomer Richard Smith are challenging Democrats Jack Hansen and Rich DiGregorio, first elected in 2007, in Ward 2:

Let me know what you see out at the polls today!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Lansdale talks televised meetings

Now that Lansdale Borough's staff have moved into their new municipal building, officials are revisiting an issue tabled for most of the last two years.
Council's Communication Commission is starting to revisit the possibility of televising borough meetings, according to commission Chair Denton Burnell.
"We've obviously capable of televising things, video recording things, so now that we're in this fancy, cool space, what can we do?" Burnell said.
Before leaving the previous borough hall in 2013, the commission had broached the topic of televising meetings and posting the video on the borough website
Since then, the website has been revamped and modernized, and the new borough building "is certainly wired for" video recording equipment, Burnell said, thus restarting a discussion that's been on hold for years.
"There's obviously a lot of questions to be answered: are we buying this stuff? Are we renting that stuff? What do we have to do with regards to a public access channel? Who would manage the equipment? So on and so forth," he said.
Some of those responsibilities could be part of the role of the borough communications coordinator, a position that has been vacant since early August.
According to Burnell and borough Manager Jake Ziegler, candidates for the coordinator position are still being interviewed, and a new employee could be in place by mid-November.
That new coordinator, once they're in place, could draw on a shared services agreement with the North Penn School District to discuss how the district's NPTV channel does their broadcasts, and the hard- and software they use.
"We could have them come in, look at our situation, and say 'Hey, we can help you here, here are some recommendations we can make,'" Burnell said.
"At least, starting the conversation with them to start to build a framework for the type of things we would need to do, in order to leverage and publicly televise on a public access channel our meetings," he said.
With talks on the 2016 borough budget underway, any large equipment expenses such as multiple large cameras would likely wait until 2017, but low-cost options such as a single-camera setup could be implemented sooner depending on the answers to the cost questions.
"I'm committed to realizing at least one of those options in the next 12 months. I would assume that the video recording options could happen much quicker than that, and at a relatively low expense to the borough," he said.
The website and channel could have fresh content, if another project discussed by the commission comes to reality.
Commission member Carrie Hawkins Charlton suggested a Civics 101 program, or a series of courses introducing residents to local government and how it works.
"You can learn about the police department, learn about the fire department, learn about borough government: what we do, how our local government is structured, the processes that we go through, and some basic information about how our budgets are structured," Burnell said.
Those courses could be offered in person by borough department heads, and could run four to six weeks and result in an honorary certification for those who complete the courses.
"The idea is to engage people who don't normally come to council, who perhaps aren't really engaged, and don't really have a sense of what we do, but might be interested," he said. 
"The goals are simple: getting people more engaged and interested in their local government, and hopefully not just engaged but more involved," said Burnell.
In recent months the commission has welcomed three new members and shifted from monthly to quarterly meetings, and as part of that reorganization Burnell was renamed as the commission Chair and Charlton as Vice-chair. The group also discussed the new look of the North Penn Water Authority's water tower near Third and Richardson Streets, which now sports the new borough brand and logo developed by the commission, and a possible update to the recently revamped borough website The upgraded site is able to track users' stays and how they find certain data, and Burnell said the commission and new coordinator could use that data to make certain features more prominent and easier to find.
"We don't really know with any great certainty how people are using (the site), so I'm very keen to leverage any data tracking metrics that we have," he said.
Examples discussed by the commission include promoting more economic development topics for outsiders visiting the site, linking borough social media channels to the site, and reconfiguring photos that appear distorted due to the page framing. 

 Lansdale's borough council next meets at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the borough municipal building, 1 Vine Street. For more information or meeting agendas and materials visit or follow @LansdalePA on Twitter.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The kiosks are coming!

If you park at any of three public lots in Lansdale's downtown, this is your first warning.
The parking kiosks ordered by the borough Parking Authority last year could be running soon.
 "It's likely that the kiosks will be operational soon. It could be as early as a week or two from now - sometime within the month," said borough Manager Jake Ziegler.
For years the Parking Authority has been discussing ways to modernize its operations and better manage the parking spaces available downtown. A parking study in 2011 produced several recommendations to better manage the spaces that already exist, including three pricing zones in downtown.
Those zones are as follows: the $1 per hour downtown core includes street parking on West Main Street from Green and Wood Streets to Madison Street, Madison Street from Main to Richardson Street, the front of the Madison Parking Lot, and the West Main Street lot.
The secondary, 50 cent per hour zone includes the rest of the Madison lot, the borough’s Walnut Street and Vine Street lots, along Railroad Avenue, and street parking on Walnut Street from Main to Linden Street, on Courtland Street from Green to Wood Street, on West Main from Wood to Richardson, on West Second Street from Broad Street to Walnut, on East Second from Broad to Chestnut and on North Broad from Main to Third Street. All other public lots in the borough are free.
In June 2014 the kiosks were ordered, costing roughly $10,000 each, and designated for three public lots:the West Main parking lot at Main Street and Susquehanna Avenue, in the Walnut Street lot at Main and Walnut streets and in the Susquehanna lot at Susquehanna and Vine Street. 
The kiosks were installed this past summer, and staff initially said they hoped to have them activated in September. Ziegler, who acts as parking administrator as well as borough manager, told the authority Wednesday that the process is now nearly done.
The kiosk at Main Street and Susquehanna Avenue  would likely be programmed to charge $1 per hour due to locations in the inner core zone, and the Susquehanna and Main and Walnut lots would likely be 50 cents an hour.
"Assuming there is not a large objection to that, that's something that could be implemented relatively quickly," Ziegler said.
Ziegler also announced that the current borough parking attendant has given formal notice that he plans to retire, so staff are looking into hiring a replacement. That employee would likely work roughly 20 hours a week, and be paid for by Parking Authority funds, which come from the revenues from parking meters.
Lansdale's Parking Authority next meets at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 and borough council next meets at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21, both at the borough municipal building, 1 Vine Street. For more information or meeting agendas and materials visit or follow @LansdalePA on Twitter.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lansdale Historical Society - the story of "E.M."

If you're looking for a free and fun way to learn about the area's history, the Lansdale Historical Society is offering its latest Community Program tomorrow, Oct. 13.
Starting at 7:30 p.m., LHS member Donald Lewis will tell the story of "E.M.," Edward Mathews, one of Lansdale's earliest local historians.

According to LHS, Mathews wrote in exhaustive detail about the people and events in the North Penn region during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite several serious illnesses, Mathews was able to gather thorough information for nearly every local newspaper, and his diaries would become reference sources for local historians of future generations.
He would crisscross the area by trolley and bicycle, and stayed for a time in Lansdale; details will be described at Tuesday night's LHS program, held at the Lansdale Parks and Recreation building, 660 Lansdale Avenue.
Lewis, a longtime LHS member, has researched Mathews' life and writings ahead of the 100th anniversary of Mathews' death, and has previously given LHS presentations on the origin of Lansdale's street names and the question of where General Winfield Scott Hancock was born.
As with other LHS events, admission is free and donations are appreciated.
LHS also has tons of resources for any area history you'd like to know, including back issues of The Reporter dating back to issue 1 in 1870, and host Saturday seminars to teach new residents about the area's history.
For more information on the October program or other LHS events, call (215) 855-1872 or visit
Also, best wishes to LHS President Dick Shearer who is undergoing a medical procedure today - hopefully that gives him plenty of time to watch former Phillies in the playoffs!

Monday, October 5, 2015

More budget news - MMOs

Now that budget season is underway for our local municipalities, we're hearing quite a bit about MMOs, or Minimum Municipal Obligations. An MMO is an amount a local municipality is required to pay for pension expenses during each budget year. Most municipalities have some sort of pension board or committee that oversees these calculations

Per state law, each municipality is required to certify what those numbers are by the end of September, ahead of passing their formal budget in November/December. The budget includes those amounts as an expense the muni is required to pay, and there is usually state reimbursement available for at least some of the MMO pension costs - that also varies by municipality.

Here are the MMOs that have been approved recently:

- Hatfield Township's MMO obligations are slated to decrease for the first time in nearly a decade in 2016, a trend officials attributed to a defined contribution plan first implemented in 2013. Total township pension costs totalled $623,860 in 2014, peaked at $716,383 in 2015 and now project to fall to $537,788 in 2016; here's the breakdown:

- Lansdale Borough: Police MMO has been calculated as $967,144 for 2016, based on a total police employee payroll of $2.74 million and an expected contribution of $96,000 from members.

MMO for borough non-uniform pension plan has been calculated as $475,000; of that total $190,000 is required for the management category of employee; $190,000 for employees of the Molders Union, and the remaining $95,000 from AFSCME union members.

- Montgomery Township: MMO for the township's police pension plan in 2016 has been calculated at $761,309; estimated state aid is $247,000 leaving a township obligation of $514,309. 2016's figure is a 1% increase from 2015, and a total of 36 police officers contribute 5% of their salaries.

For non-uniform employees, the MMO is calculated to be $279,591 in 2016, with an estimated state aid of $188,000 leaving a local obligation of $91,591. 49 employees participate in the plan, to which the township contributes 8% and the employee, 4%; the 2016 total is less than a 1% increase over 2015, according to the township.

- North Wales: Council approved an MMO figure of $65,770 at their Sept. 8 meeting, and council Vice President Christine Hart said the borough typically receives "most of it back in subsidies" from the state. "To keep it fully funded is something we've done as long as I've been here. We have not stopped contributions, even when we've been ahead of the game," she said.

- Towamencin: Police MMOs for 2016 have been calculated to be $773,557 for 2016, down from an $814,586 figure in 2015. The township's non-uniform MMO, based on a defined benefit pension plan, has been calculated at $162,360 in 2016, down from $181,117 in 2015.

- Upper Gwynedd's MMO figures were still being calculated during their Sept. 15 workshop, and I've asked their staff if those figures are available - will update once I get that info!

Friday, October 2, 2015

2015 Budget season - UPDATED 10/13

UPDATE 10/13: Montgomery Township has announced their schedule of topics to be discussed during a series of budget workshops later this month.
The board has already voted to schedule budget workshop meetings for Oct. 20, 21, 22 and 28, with Oct. 29 as a backup date. All meetings will start at 6:30 p.m. and run until roughly 8:30-9 p.m.
Topics for each of those sessions have now been announced:
Oct. 20 - budget overview, general engineering projects, traffic engineering, Public Works, Parks
Oct. 21 - Environmental Advisory Committee, Fire Department of Montgomery Township and Department of Fire Services, Sewer Authority, Planning/zoning, Shade Tree commission
Oct. 22 - Community & Recreation Center and Autumn Festival, Police, IT and Finance
Oct. 28 - Administration, personnel, conclusion.
The supervisors are tentatively scheduled to adopt a preliminary budget on Nov. 9 to start the formal public review period, and adopt the final budget on Dec. 14. If any change is made during the drafting process that alters one item by more than 25 percent or the total budget by more than ten percent, the budget must be re-advertised for another 20 days, according to township staff.
All of those meetings will be held at the township administration building, 1001 Stump Road; for more information visit or follow @MontTwp on Twitter.

UPDATE 10/9: Towamencin has adjusted their budget schedule due to the cancellation of an Oct. 7 budget workshop meant to discuss several township departments.
With the Oct. 7 meeting canceled, Oct. 21 will now mark the start of budget talks, with topics on the to-do list including the township Police, Fire Department, emergency management, Code enforcement, and the Morgan Log House.
Several other departments originally scheduled for Oct. 7 will now be discussed on Oct. 18: Parks and Recreation, Public Works, the Towamencin Pool, and the long-term capital budget and fee schedule.
A budget workshop on Nov. 4 will discuss remaining departments: Finance, IT, economic development, administration, and sewer.
Adoption of a tentative 2016 budget, originally scheduled for Nov. 10, will now take place during a Nov. 18 budget meeting.
The 20-day window for public inspection now means that instead of final adoption of the budget on Dec. 9, the budget will now be adopted on Dec. 23 at the supervisors' work session. For more info visit


It's that time of year again, one of the most important and yet unappreciated for local governments - budget season!

Each of our local municipalities has at least one, and usually a series, of meetings to go over the last year's budget and plan the coming year.

Typically, each department (parks, finance, police, code, public works, etc) will submit a draft budget containing everything they would like to see included in the next year, and over the next several meetings their board will cut that down to make ends meet.

Depending on their schedules, each of the municipalities handles the early weeks of budget season differently, but all of them have to approve a draft budget in November, make it available for public comment, and approve the final version in December.

Each municipality schedules their budget talks differently: Lansdale Borough began talking about the expenditure side of their budget in Sept. 2 council committee meetings, and will talk about revenues in their Oct. 7 committees next week. Those committee meetings start at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the borough municipal building, 1 Vine Street, and the draft budget could be adopted Nov. 18 and the final version Dec. 16.

Montgomery Township's board had a choice between several possible budget meeting dates, and said they'll hold their workshops on Oct. 20, 21, 22 and 28 with the 29th as a backup date. Those meetings start at 6:30 p.m. and tend to run to 8:30-9pm, and (SEE ABOVE FOR UDPATE) which department goes on which date will depend on when engineers and professional consultants are available, according to their finance director. Those meetings are held at their administration building, 1001 Stump Road, and follow them on Twitter @MontTwp or visit www.MontgomeryTwp for details on which meeting is when.

Upper Gwynedd tends to hold one all-night budget meeting to discuss their entire wish-list, and last year's ran from 5 p.m. to roughly 11:30 p.m. - eat something beforehand! That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 at their administration building, 1 Parkside Place.

Hatfield Township holds an annual goal-setting meeting - which used to be at the start of the calendar year, until they realized it made more sense to hold it while drafting the budget - and then keep up talks on the budget during board workshop meetings. The budget-only meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 11 and the other commissioners' meetings are schedule for Nov. 4 and 18 (which should include a formal budget presentation) and December 2 and 16, all at their admin building, 1950 School Road.

North Wales Borough is a trickier case, since they are still looking for their next full-time borough manager. Last year, the former manager had a budget complete in mid-November before he left to work in a larger town, but this year's schedule is still to be determine. Borough council has said they hope to have a new manager hired by Nov. 1, and their council meetings are scheduled for Nov. 10 and 24 and Dec. 8 and 15, all at the borough municipal building, 300 School Street.

And last but certainly not least, Towamencin's supervisors have scheduled several budget workshops, to be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 and 21 and Nov. 4. Those will go alongside supervisors meetings at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 24 and Dec. 9 and 23, all of which will be held at their township building, 1090 Troxel Road.

Let me know if I'll see you at any of these budget meetings!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Finn McCool's update + more Hatfield news

New news from Hatfield Township regarding one of their most prominent vacant properties:

(Photo by Mark Psoras for The Reporter - all other photos are taken by me unless i say otherwise)

Hatfield officials discussing possible demolition of former Finn McCool’s building

This has been a tricky issue for several years, ever since the property owner was murdered in a home invasion in January 2013 - which is still the coldest i have ever been, so cold my cellphone and flipcam stopped working while at that scene.

Anyways! Hatfield has had this property on their radar for several years, including during talks on their imminent danger ordinance which produced one of the strangest quotes i've ever heard in a meeting:

“My office was prepared to have a court order to have Finn McCool’s demolished, and right as we were about to serve that paperwork the owner was murdered, which held up that process,” she said.

More details on what could happen with that property are in that story, so click the link above!
And in other news from Hatfield, a resident brought up an issue we'll likely hear more about coming soon - political campaign signs. The resident asked if signs already placed in the township should be taken down because we are more than 30 days from an election, and the reply from the township solicitor was to say that regulations currently on the books are not enforceable.
"Not only would I recommend that it not be enforced, but that we take the time to take it off the books," said solicitor Christen Pionzio.
The only enforceable regulations the township can enforce would govern whether signs are placed in rights-of-way and present safety hazards, she told the commissioners.
"There should be nothing on the code relative to political signs. You can keep them up year-round if you want to. It's free speech, so quite frankly, there shouldn't be any (regulations)," she said.
What do you think? Should municipalities be able to regulate political signs, or just have no codes at all? Let me know by commenting here or tweet me @Dansokil - thanks!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In other news - Lansdale Planning Commission 09/21/2015

The main news from Lansdale's Planning Commission Monday night was the first look at plans for a 120-unit apartment building proposed for North Second Street and Cannon Avenue:

Here are some pix of the presentation on that project; I've asked to get the full presentation and will update if i get it.

Other news from that meeting included talks on a subdivision on the 700 block of North Valley Forge Road, where a lot with two homes will be divided into two lots with one each. Minor discussion from the planning commission on that one, mostly concerning Code requirements that say one more shade tree must be added to one of the lots, which led to this exchange:

Planning Commission also continued its talks on the borough Comprehensive Plan update, which has been ongoing for several months now. Montgomery County Planning Commission reps to the local commission have been updating data in the 2006 plan, and last night's talks dealt mostly with historical data on when certain types of residential and business construction were recorded with the county, and which borough projects those meant.

Lansdale PC also discussed an upcoming zoning hearing board discussion re: a business on the 100 block of South Broad Street, seeking to build a shed structure behind their property. Commission members also asked Director of Community Development John Ernst about several other ongoing projects. No formal permit applications have yet been filed for the former Molly Maguire's restaurant and pub site at Main and Wood Streets, but the department has had discussions with "a potential buyer," Ernst said.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Behind the scenes with FDMT

Here's hoping you don't see it for a while, but the Fire Department of Montgomery Township now has a new state-of-the-art fire engine that has officially entered service:

Out with the old, in with the new as FDMT welcomes new engine

Ever wonder how we were able to get that cool photo? Here's a shot of our photographer Geoff Patton deploying his monopod, and using a mix of skill and luck to get just the right angle:

and it's worth noting Friday was also the final day for FDMT's oldest fire engine, a 1988 model the department obtained when they were formed in 2002, and they've sold to a collector in Virginia...couldn't resist taking one last pic of that too:

congrats FDMT!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Testing testing...let's see what this looks like! This will be a blog about all things in and around Lansdale, so here's a pic from last night of the new borough municipal building at sunset. Story on their very first meeting coming soon... the meantime follow me on Twitter @Dansokil for live updates as these meetings happen!