Lower Southampton Township ended 2016 with the shocking news of Robert Hoopes, its newly-minted public safety director, indicted on charges of money laundering alongside Magisterial District Judge John Waltman and Pennsylvania Deputy Constable Bernard Rafferty.
“At this point, he is suspended without pay with intent to dismiss,” Township Manager John McMenamin said, noting that Hoopes is expected to be formally fired during the Board of Supervisors Jan. 3 reorganization meeting.
Lt. Ted Krimmel has taken over the day-to-day of the police department, and will remain in charge for at least the immediate future.
But despite the recent headlines, the township has plenty to look forward to in 2017, beginning with some good news for its residents: no tax increases for the 10th consecutive year.
“We kind of watch everything that we spend,” McMenamin said. “We go with what our needs are, other than our wants.”
That includes some thrifty improvements. Using LED lights throughout the township has saved an estimated $12,000 to $16,000 in energy costs, for example.
Some of the needs the township are addressing are up to $500,000 in paving projects this year, including repaving the surface of the Neshaminy Senior Center parking lot.
Money was also set aside to upgrade sewage pump stations with new electric circuits and boxes, something that has been ongoing for the last two or three years.
“You can’t have anything worse than a break in the sewer system,” McMenamin said. “It saves us money in the long term to constantly be doing work on them.”
Some objectives for the new year are simple improvements to municipal sites. McMenamin said at least one of the township’s fields will be upgraded with new lighting.
Township officials are also continuing to fund work on the farmhouse at Playwicki Farm. In September, the Playwicki Farm Foundation was given a $10,000 check to build an industrial kitchen at the farmhouse to enable hosting of fundraising and community events there.
McMenamin said the township is planning to put a new roof on the farmhouse this year.
The Brownsville Road Bridge project is still slated for 2018, but McMenamin said he hasn’t heard from PennDOT on it lately. In the first quarter of 2017, he said, the township will start working on some plans.
The township also applied for a grant through PennDOT to begin work on the Brownsville Road business district. If that goes through, PennDOT would give the township a little over $700,000 for new sidewalks, lighting and greenery along Brownsville Road and Elmwood Avenue and several blocks north and south of there.
Lower Southampton would have to chip in about $300,000 to fund the project, but it would be a major upgrade to a valued piece of the township.
Cleanup work is also beginning on a couple of large water basins in the township, which will help bring cleaner water to the Poquessing Creek. That’s a two-year project, partially funded by grant money.
Overall, Lower Southampton’s plans may seem tame compared with neighboring municipalities, but McMenamin said it all comes down to the township’s spending policies.
“We have a board of supervisors who looks very hard at the budget, gives us guidance and we try to follow that,” he said. “We try to stay within our means.” ••