Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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Established June 2, 1997
by citizens for citizens

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March 16, 1998

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August 13, 1997
  
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Charlestown Civic Association

Is Bigger Government Better Government?

(October 30, 1998)
 
How we stand on the issues
The Charlestown Civic Association is a non-partisan citizen's advocate. Our one and only loyalty is to Charlestown Township and all its citizens. We do not support candidates or political causes; we will only point out, when appropriate, anything that might make a significant impact, positively or negatively, on our community.
Why 5 Supervisors is not a good idea
On Tuesday you will vote on a referendum (#113) that reads as follows: "Should 2 additional Supervisors be elected to serve this township?" We have studied the ramifications and sought counsel and advice from many sources. After much consideration, we strongly urge you to vote "No" by punching NO at #113.
Let history teach us a lesson
Our 3-person board has run Charlestown successfully for many years. And it continues to succeed, today. Is there an occasional disagreement? Of course. It would be virtually impossible for 3 people to agree on everything, all the time. Our political process not only provides for opposing views - it encourages them.
All 3 current supervisors have stated publicly that the Board should continue as it stands, with only 3 members. Even former Charlestown board members concur. But perhaps the most persuasive argument comes, not from opinion, but from historical fact.
Not long ago, Schuylkill Township increased its board from 3 to 5 supervisors. Today the township has difficulty conducting even the most routine business. As one of their top officials told us, "Whatever you do, don't go to 5 supervisors. It's impossible to get them to agree on anything." Schuylkill is now considering reverting to a 3-person board. We can - we must - learn from this experience.
The additional cost is substantial
Some people have estimated an incremental cost to the township of $4,000 a year for the 2 additional Supervisors. We believe the cost will be considerably higher. The simple truth is, if you increase the board by 40%, expenses will increase 40%. Consider these probabilities:
  • A Supervisor is paid $50 per board meeting. 2 additional supervisors attending 24 meetings a year will cost us an additional $2,400.
     
  • The township secretary/treasurer will be given 40% more work to do. Since she's already working 5 days a week we will probably have to hire a part-time secretary to handle the extra work. This alone could cost us $10,000 a year.
     
  • Our Township solicitor, whose time is billed at $175 an hour, will receive 40% more calls, conferences and advisory sessions. If each new Supervisor only engages him one hour a week; we'll be paying for 100 more hours a year. That's $17,500.
And, of course, we will be facing similar higher costs with the township engineer, planning consultant, etc.
A few final thoughts
When you increase one thing, you increase everything
Absenteeism. Our 3-person board has enjoyed 100% attendance this year. They have a long-standing record of near perfect attendance. The more people you add, the more likelihood of absenteeism. And absenteeism, by itself, will destroy the whole premise of adding additional Supervisors. Our 7-person Planning Commission almost never has all members present. It's human nature. And it's a fact.
Scheduling. Our supervisors have to schedule certain events together such as road inspection tours, special hearings and work sessions. 3 people can barely find mutually convenient times. 5 people will be virtually impossible.
Let's keep our Charlestown government small
This referendum was put on the ballot because of a specific incident that occurred early this year. The sudden resignation of a Supervisor left us with the difficult task of finding an equally qualified person.
But there is a process for such a situation. By following it, we filled the position with an extraordinary Supervisor, and the township business is now functioning properly and smoothly. Our little township has a small government that is not broken. As the saying goes, there is no need to fix it.
Vote "No" on the supervisor referendum.

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