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Hellam Township Supervisor
Six candidates are running for three seats for Hellam Township supervisor in the 2015 Primary election on Tuesday, May 19.
The York Dispatch asked them to answer three questions and provide basic bio information to help voters with their selection.
Their responses are:
Michael Martin (R)
Age/Family: 67, Married, two children, two grandchildren
Occupation: Farmer & Database Administrator
Education: Bachelor of Science Computer Science, Millersville University, 1985
Community organizations with which you are active: Chairman Hellam Township Board of Supervisors, York First Church of the Brethren
David A. Miller (R)
Age/Family: 50, wife Tina, son David, daughter Jennifer
Occupation: self-employed contractor
Education: Central York High School
Community organizations with which you are active: High school and American Legion baseball umpire
Riki Potosky (R)
Age/Family: 62/Married to Mark with 2 adult children, Lauren and Alex.
Occupation: Previously teaching, now clerical and a local small business owner
Education: Graduated high school, went on to college, Shippensburg University, and graduate school at Penn State University, Harrisburg.
Community organizations with which you are active: Hellam Recreation and past volunteer for my children's programs
Philip K. Smith (R)
Age/Family: 58/married, wife April, son, Dan, daughter, Jennifer, grandson, Declan, and a granddaughter, Sloan
Occupation: I am retired from Verizon Communications after 39 1/2 years. I am presently the Emergency Management Coordinator for Eastern York County.
Education: Graduate of Eastern York High School
Community organizations with which you are active: Member of Hellam Fire Company and Hellam Recreation Commission
Bill Sprenkle (R)
Age/Family: 61/Married, three children, five grandchildren
Occupation: Retired Executive Deputy Secretary, PA Department of Corrections
Education: Bachelor of Science Degree (Police Science/Corrections), York College of PA, Graduate Studies, Villanova University
Community organizations with which you are active: York County Beekeepers Association
Stephen Wolf (R)
Age/Family: 57/Wife Elizabeth
Occupation: Facilities Director, YMCA of York and York County
Education: Central York High School, U.S. Marine Corps
Community organizations with which you are active: Horn Farm Center Board of Directors, York County Local Government Advisory Committee Chairman, York County Association of Township Supervisors President, White Rose Masonic Lodge
Questions and answers
1. How would you rate the township's performance at keeping taxes (especially property taxes) affordable for residents while providing adequate services? Why?
Martin: Smart growth principles of preserving farmland and promoting agriculture security zones while focusing growth on areas already served by roads and infrastructure, principles which have been followed since the smart growth team took office in 2004, have kept the cost of township services under control. Following these principles, combined with promoting community involvement and volunteerism while employing prudent financial management, have made it possible to construct a new public works building with an emergency services command center with no millage increase in the 12 years since the smart growth team was elected.
At 1.8 mills, .3 mills of which goes to supporting the Hallam and Wrightsville fire departments, Hellam Township's millage rate is well below the county average for townships that have a police force and cannot enact the mercantile tax, and we are among a very few municipalities that have not raised taxes in 12 years.
Inter-municipal agreements, such as our six municipality emergency services agreement, and the agreement providing police services to Hallam Borough have also contributed to our ability to provide high levels of service while keeping a lid on costs. We continue to work on imaginative ways to reduce costs while improving services.
Miller: Hellam Township supervisors have done an adequate job with taxes with no increase in 12 years. We have some volunteer organizations that could use more support from the township, but without any business growth within the township these fund can't be given. The township has the infrastructure and zoning in place to invite business growth, this would help keep taxes down and possibly increase funding to our volunteer organizations.
Potosky: Hellam Township, like all municipalities, is always changing and evolving and this is a wonderful thing! Our current board of supervisors have done the same job they have for years, but we are not the same township. We have programs that have grown and these programs help many residents in our township, from over 600 children to many adults as well, and they require funding. The township has road maintenance issues, from a harsh winter, which may require additional funding. As one can see, monies are needed, but from where?
We have a large population which is over the age of 40 years old with many reaching the retirement age, which may mean a fixed income. To continue down the road we are currently going, I do not feel it is wise. The residents of Hellam Township need to expand the tax base and this can be done by allowing businesses to come to our township, which our current board does not seem to promote. By inviting and allowing business to come to our township, in areas where zoning and the infrastructure currently are in place, we can widen our tax base, saving residents future property and school tax increases. This will also add funds for our programs, for example our library, which has not received increased funding for almost 10 years and has thousands of visitors a year.
Smith: The Hellam Township Board of Supervisors have done an adequate job in keeping taxes affordable for the residents of the township by not raising taxes for 12 years. However, by not doing anything to bring additional monies into the township, I feel they have lacked in their judicial obligation of supporting some of the nonprofit and volunteer organizations through monetary support. We have organizations that have excelled in their functions and duties of operations towards the people of the township and surrounding communities. However, they need additional monetary support from Hellam Township to keep that level of achievement. The majority of the board of supervisors, for whatever reason, does not want to promote business growth in the township. What better way, where the zoning and infrastructure is in place to have business growth, allowing the residents of Hellam Township's taxes to stay affordable. This would also help in keeping school taxes from rising. The boroughs in the Eastern York School District have no room to promote business like Hellam Township does. Right now the township is paying their expenses out of their reserve fund. Another reason to find additional ways of income.
Sprenkle:As a long-term resident of Hellam Township, I rate the township's taxes and services as very good. In spite of the current challenges for municipalities throughout the commonwealth, Hellam Township continues to succeed at keeping its taxes in check (no increase in 12 years) while providing good services for its residents. A good example is the township's maintenance of its roads in spite of the recent harsh winters and the damage caused by the construction of the Spectra gas pipeline. I have also been impressed by the township's continual commitment to the recreation commission, police department, fire departments, library and the Horn Farm Center.
Wolf: Hellam Township has not had a tax increase in 12 years. In that time period, the board of supervisors has worked as a unified team to enhance emergency services, including police, fire and ambulance services. Hellam police department provides shared contacted coverage for Hallam Borough, offsetting cost. The township supports the volunteers of Hallam and Wrightsville fire departments. They are well respected departments, with highly trained personnel and a broad range of equipment. The township has an outstanding ambulance service provided at no taxpayer expense.
The township has adhered to its budget each year, and was able to construct a much needed maintenance building, including an emergency response center for $2,100,000, with most of the cost paid by reserve funds and still retaining a sizable rainy day reserve. We have an outstanding manager, chief of police, officers and staff who work closely with the supervisors, on budget, and keeping expenses in line.
The accomplishments are due to a board of supervisors that has unified its management approach with smart growth principles. The primary focus of smart growth is to preserve farmland and support growth in appropriately zoned areas of the township. The smart growth team works to evaluate, prioritize and balance the needs of the community within its revenue base.
2. Other than holding down costs, what would be your top priorities if elected supervisor (or to another term as supervisor)?
Martin: The last two winters, several floods, and the heavy equipment used to install the Spectra gas pipeline have damaged Township roads. Bringing them back to standard is among our top priorities.
We continue to support and improve our excellent emergency and community services including police, fire departments, Kreutz Creek Valley Library, Horn Farm Center, and Hellam Recreation among others.
Hellam Recreation's volunteers have made it possible for thousands of local youths to participate in competitive sports over the years. But new volunteers are needed to continue this fantastic program, and additional fields are needed. The master park plan sponsored by Hallam Borough and Hellam Township includes a new soccer field as well as a linear hiking trail and playground facilities.
We continue to work to serve our farming community and preserve farmland and the rural character of the township while attracting growth to areas with existing roads, sewer, and water. Many new businesses have come into the township and others have expanded bringing new jobs for our residents, but more are needed.
We agree with the American Lung Association that Perdue's proposed hexane soy oil extraction process poses unacceptable risks to health, but support the plant with expeller technology instead.
Miller: My priorities would be to create better transparency between the residents and township. I would invite business growth into areas that are zoned and infrastructure in place to help the tax base. I also would work with the road master to better roads and storm water problems.
Potosky: I feel my top priorities are shared by many throughout our township:
Create transparency with our residents.
Encourage controlled business growth along the Route 30 exits corridor while keeping our rural character in other areas of our township.
Promote a strong agricultural economy.
Smith: My top priorities if elected to the position of supervisor would be to encourage business growth in the designated areas already zoned for it and that has the supporting infrastructure so that it will not adversely affect the taxpayers. I will strive to create a better transparency relationship between the township and its residents. I also would like to work with the York County Planning Commission to be creative in using the TDR program throughout the county not just in Hellam Township.
Sprenkle: Approximately 20 years ago, my wife and I began looking for a wooded lot to build our dream log home. We spent many days driving throughout York County but couldn't find land that excited us until we found our lot in Hellam Township. It had the view, privacy and convenient access to community services that we always wanted. As township supervisor, a priority will be to ensure the continuation of the township's beauty while we grow and continue to improve public services as made possible by the township's smart growth approach.
Another priority will be to do whatever I can to support our farmers. As a small farmer, I certainly know the challenges and hard work farmers must endure to help our residents to have access to healthy and affordable locally grown foods. I support Perdue's proposed soy oil extraction plant because of the potential benefits for our farmers, and the additional jobs it may bring to our area. However, I do not support the company's preference to use hexane that would unnecessarily expose our residents to a toxic gas.
Wolf: The township roads are a priority. The wear and tear of winter, along with the lingering effects of the gas pipeline construction and tropical storm Lee, have left behind flood damage and uncovered other drainage issues that need to be addressed as our road department works within its budget to continue repairs and construction.
We have a wonderful recreation park and we share costs with Hallam Borough on improvements and maintenance. We solicited and received $50,000 Marcellus shale impact funds and are working on DCNR grants to continue improvements. Finding available grant funding sources takes the burden off local resources.
As president of York County Association of Township Supervisors and Chair of the Local Government Advisory Committee, I forge relationships that help benefit Hellam residents and township staff.
There is not a single issue that drives the agenda. Rather, I will continue to work with the smart growth team to manage community needs in a fiscally responsible manner.
3. Why did you decide to run for township supervisor? Why should people support your candidacy?
Martin: We have demonstrated that growth need not destroy the township character, nor require high taxes.
The world class prime agricultural lands in the township's central valley that support local farm businesses like the Lehmans' and the Flinchbaughs' can be preserved, thereby supporting vibrant economic activity and a wholesome lifestyle. New generations of farmers can learn their trade in Horn Farm Center incubator farm programs while new and expanded businesses like PA Truck Center, Stewart Welding and Fabricating, PAZ Metals, and H&H Castings can also thrive.
More than 80 Transferable Development Rights have been sold, most recently for $10,000 each, providing a half million dollar shot in the arm for local land owners.
The informal, participatory style of township meetings, where residents are not only welcomed and respected but also strongly encouraged to participate, has earned praise from visitors not accustomed to a teamwork approach to local government.
I thank Hellam Township residents for the opportunity to serve. I am greatly honored by the confidence they have placed in me and the rest of the smart growth team. If given the opportunity Steve Wolf, Bill Sprenkle and I will continue serving Hellam Township residents' needs.
Miller: I choose to run for supervisor because in 22 years living here, I have seen the good and bad within the township. I was baseball coordinator from 1997 till 2004; funding for the rec programs is less today than at that time. I believe it is time for a change of leadership with new blood. I came from a farming family and would like to keep this township in the farming culture, along with adding business growth where it is zoned to help with future property taxes and creating jobs.
Potosky: It is time for change and I want to be part of that change. Our township is currently working with a deficit which will continue to grow if action is not taken to create additional funds. I feel it is extremely important to listen to every resident's concerns, not only the special interest groups, and to make a fair decision based on them. All residents have the right to know what is happening in their township and I wish to provide that transparency. I will work for you, our citizens of Hellam Township, and will strive to do my best to make the very best decisions for all.
Smith: I decided to run for Hellam Township Supervisor because I feel it may be time to see change within the leadership and bring in different blood. Having been a past Hellam Township supervisor, a lifelong Hellam area resident and the current Eastern York County Emergency Management Coordinator, I have had the privilege to meet many of the residents of this great community in which we live. I feel I always tried to make decisions that would benefit the majority of the townships residents, not just the special interests groups. If elected, I will continue to listen to every resident's concerns and act in a professional manner on making decisions that will continue to keep taxes affordable while finding ways to increase the tax base while keeping a rural character within Hellam Township. Bottom line is, there are two groups with candidates running for the position of Hellam Township Supervisors, with different views on how to lead our community. The residents, if they care on the direction they would like to see Hellam Township proceed, need to vote on May 19th.
Sprenkle: I retired from the Commonwealth of PA in 2010 after 35 years of public service. At the time of my retirement, I was responsible for the internal operations of the PA Department of Corrections. The responsibility included oversight of approximately 52,000 inmates; approximately 17,000 staff and an operating budget of approximately $1.4 billion. During my career, I was fortunate to have mentors who helped me to acquire excellent leadership and organizational skills. These skills allowed me to lead the transformation of our agency from an "old school" type organization with emphasis on internal control and growth to an agency committed to providing excellent public safety, improved operational efficiencies, excellent staff training and development, and fiscally responsible.
I decided to run for township supervisor to make a meaningful contribution to the board of supervisors and the residents of the township. My public service experience and skills, along with my motivation for team management, new ideas and continual improvement will help the township to continue to be a place where others can live their dreams as my wife Rhonda and I have. I am excited and honored to part of the smart growth team and I'm looking forward to working with Mike Martin and Steve Wolf to serve the Hellam Township residents.
Wolf: I support smart growth issues. I support farming. I support responsible development. I support the health and welfare of the township residents. I believe I have experience that can benefit the community in all of these areas.
There has not been a tax increase for over 12 years, this is to the credit of us using smart growth principles.
I have no further political aspirations, nor do I expect personal or financial gain from being a supervisor. These are the qualities I value in an elected official, so I stepped forward to be a part of good government, rather than just talking about it.
Please vote for Mike Martin, Bill Sprenkle and Stephen Wolf, smart growth candidates for Hellam Township Supervisor. Thank you!