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Shrewsbury Township Supervisor
Five candidates are running for two seats for Shrewsbury 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:
Ann K. Biser (R)
Age/Family: 50 years, I am a lifelong resident of Shrewsbury township, currently residing with my sons.
Occupation: Physician Assistant
Education: Graduate of Susquehannock High School, Wilson College Chambersburg, Essex Community College and Johns Hopkins University.
Community organizations with which you are active: St. Paul Lutheran Church Hametown, church council most recently, but also in various other capacities and I have served many years with local Boy Scout troops as Merit Badge Counselor, Den Leader and Committee Chair among others. I have also been involved in various parent organizations at Susquehannock High School.
David A. Brose (R)
Occupation: Retail Manager
Education: Bachelor in English Education from Lock Haven University of PA; Associate in Bible from Lancaster Bible College
Community organizations with which you are active: none
R. Alan Burrows (D)
Education: 1971 BS York College of Pennsylvania
Community organizations with which you are active: Gifts of Grace
Jim Coyle (R)
Age/Family: 41 / happily married with a 10 year old son and a 13 year old daughter
Occupation: Senior Account Manager for the Serta Mattress Company
Education: Penn State University 91-95
Community organizations with which you are active:
Assistant Den Leader, Cub Scouts Pack 90, Den 4(2010-2015).
Isaac Walton League member, Chapter 67 (2013 to present). Volunteer at Hopewell Fish and Game club(2000-to present). Current SYC little league baseball coach. Former SYC soccer indoor and outdoor coach. Former SYC basketball assistant coach.
Arthur C. Rutledge Jr. (R)
Age/Family: 70. Married to Diane for 43 years. Two daughters and two granddaughters
Occupation: Retired as president of an electronics manufacturing company
Education: B.S. in Business Management from Towson State College (now Towson University)
Community Organizations with which I am active: Previously, a Recreation Council President, member of strategic initiatives commission, and community planning council member. Currently, Treasurer and member of Board of Directors of vacation condo association and served several terms as President. Was first President of Villas At Shrewsbury homeowners association. Successfully led community to favorable resolution of many critical issues with the developer and builder.
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?
Biser: Property taxes, nor any other type of tax, is never popular. I believe that, over the years, the township has done a respectable job of maintaining a reasonable tax base while at the same time providing services, such as quality schools. Our rates in Shrewsbury Township are among the lowest in the surrounding areas.
Brose: My property taxes have continued to rise every year, but the majority go to the county and school district. Shrewsbury Township has had one of the lowest millage rates in the state and has been able to maintain the township while building a sizable surplus. This year did see the increase of the fire tax. I never like to see increasing taxes, but emergency services is not an area we want to scrimp on, and I fully support all three fire companies that protect our township.
Burrows: Shrewsbury Township has always kept property taxes low and provided good services to all its residents. What has happened over the last six years is an increase in "service fees" in lieu of a tax increase. Trash pick up, fire tax, fire hydrant tax, when combined would no longer make Shrewsbury Township the lowest tax (millage) base in the county.
My concern is in lieu of an increase in our millage tax. What is the cost to have an increase in township employees to manage, collect and enforce all these new fees and ordinances? Are they enforced without political or personal agendas? Do they treat all residents fairly?
Coyle: We are fortunate to have one of the lowest millage rates in York County and provide more than adequate services to the residents. The township manager and staff are competent and knowledgeable. They handle issues in a professional and timely manner. We have an opportunity with the maintenance of our township parks and my hope is that the current supervisors will address this issue.
Rutledge: I think the township supervisors have been prudent in maintaining one of the lowest tax rates in the county. The township has been able to supply the essential services needed for a very diverse community. Recently, the township has been successful in obtaining grants to help enable several projects while holding costs down. Like most other municipalities, the township struggles with aging infrastructure costs and has had to delay some road improvement projects until next year because of higher costs than anticipated in the budget (the township has 80 miles of roads to maintain). I think prioritizing the most needed projects becomes especially important when there are budget shortfalls. I believe the township has tried (successfully) to consider benefits vs. costs in debating items such as a local police force and in scheduled improvements to parks and recreational facilities (with matching grants to help lower costs).
2. Other than holding down costs, what would be your top priorities if elected supervisor (or to another term as supervisor)?
Biser: I would like to see more transparency from the board and more involvement from the community, with a mutual respect from and for all involved. The supervisors have taken positive steps in this direction recently by videotaping the monthly township supervisor meetings. I would like to continue this trend with as much openness and involvement from the community as is feasible. A more interactive dialogue provides clarity and limits the "we/they" alignments which often detract from the core intent, and can create additional angst and discontent. I am hopeful that demonstrating a willingness to serve the members of the community and a receptiveness by the board members for such transparency, we can enhance community involvement and allow us to join together to enhance our community efforts, and our community as a whole. There must be an open, respectful forum for our citizens to raise their concerns, and a receptive, elected panel with the ability and willingness to act to address those concerns. The opinions of the citizens on issues must be considered.
Balancing growth and development, which sometimes is in opposition to protecting farmland and ecological systems is an ongoing challenge for our township as it is for other municipalities. We need to do our best to avoid stifling growth and progress while still protecting our natural and sometimes irreparable resources. We need to leave a legacy of which our children can be proud. Creative solutions have to be found to meet our needs.
Brose: As a Republican, I fully support the limitation of government. We have enough bureaucratic oversight from the state and federal levels of government; we don't need the local government to compound this intrusion. If there are already "laws on the books" from a state and federal level, the township should not attempt to make more stringent laws which will make life more difficult for the average working man and woman of the township.
Burrows: My priorities would be to work with my fellow board members to develop a mentoring program to get young people involved and make sure all aspects of township government are open to and participated in by all citizens. It is very important to get young people involved on our boards and committees so we will be providing leaders who are trained and ready to lead in the future.
Coyle: My top priority is to bring civility to the township meetings. The days of bickering, shouting and spending valuable tax dollars on frivolous lawsuits to further personal agendas at the cost of taxpayers needs to come to an end. This waste of resources can and should be avoided. We need to work together to resolve our issues by listening to all view points and make rational decisions based on facts not emotions.
Rutledge: Having attended and observed several township meetings, I see a need to work toward a more collaborative process among the supervisors. I would like to see more discussion, listening and questioning, all toward trying to understand differing views and to develop consensus. At times, there seems to be bitter differences in opinions that are taken outside to the community by supervisors after votes are taken and decisions are made. I would emphasize the importance for all supervisors to be united in support of a measure once decided by vote.
I think there could be more mutually beneficial cooperation between the township and developers to provide better access for walking around the more developed areas. (For one example, walking across Mt. Airy Road between Shrewsbury Commons and Mesinna Highlands is not a safe thing to do today and is, appropriately, forbidden by posted signs. Sidewalks and walk enabling signs at the traffic light could have benefited shoppers and store owners alike while reducing the need to move vehicles a very short distance between these two areas).
There has been much controversy recently over the new Fire Hydrant fee (or tax). I think there is a valid question of fairness, overall community benefit and the need to consider soft and hard costs required to administer the current 'within 780 feet rule.'
3. Why did you decide to run for township supervisor? Why should people support your candidacy?
Biser: I decided to run for township supervisor after I began consistently attending meetings a couple of years ago. I am a lifelong resident of Shrewsbury Township, with my parents having moved here from York in the 1940s. My parents instilled a need to give back to the community, and to respectfully defend our positions, and an understanding that actions have consequences. As such, I would like to participate in serving the needs of our community. I would hope that people would support my candidacy based on my willingness to serve and to be receptive to the needs of the community, my reputation of integrity, pragmatism and honesty, and my knowledge of the concerns of the community, based upon lifelong residency.
I believe that my time running a small business, my daily interaction with people of all walks of life has taught me to listen to the views of others and to understand that my assumptions, are not necessarily the same as those of others. My career path, which includes working my way through college, while raising a child and running a household, creating a small business, later caring for elderly relatives, and my many years being a single parent have all taught me the necessity of time management, the need to address issues with appropriate information, and have further instilled the necessity and reward of hard work to accomplish a goal. My mom taught my brothers and I to know right from wrong, and she instilled in us an obligation to take a stand when necessary, and to accept consequences. I think those experiences will serve me well.
Brose: I attended a township supervisor meeting back in November and was shocked at how the township was being run. Open, sometimes hostile, argument between members of the board, personal matters being aired publicly, which had no bearing on township affairs, and supervisors railroading through new ordinances and taxes despite public outcry. I decided that the best way to help fix the problem was to become part of the solution. I have lived in the township on family farms since I was 12 years old, and I support open spaces and the preservation of farm land. Being a sensible thinking individual who is a quick learner and thoughtful decision maker, I'm sure I will be of great service to the township if the good people of Shrewsbury Township decide to elect me to this office.
Burrows: To serve. Public service means working together across political lines, to find common ground to represent all township residents.
Coyle: I decided to run in the last election as a write -n candidate after attending several meetings and witnessing the inefficiency. The community responded well to my last-minute campaign as I won almost 30 percent of the vote. Please consider supporting me for township supervisor because I bring a wealth of experience from my business background in negotiating, relationship building and controlling expenses. I will continue to support existing farm preservation regulations, serve our community and to listen to residents' concerns. Together we can make a difference and improve our township.
Rutledge: I decided to run for several reasons. First, I was asked by a number of people in my local community and around the township to consider running. Also, I strongly believe in giving back to the community, that everyone owes something to help improve their community. This is one way to fulfill that debt. Finally, I think I can make a positive difference in helping to make our township just a little better place to live.
So, why support me? I have a great deal of successful business and public service experience to put to work for our township. Throughout my career and volunteer activities I have established a reputation for effective leadership, honesty, fairness, integrity, accountability and being able to build consensus. I am recently retired, so I now have the time and enthusiasm to work hard for the interests of all residents of Shrewsbury Township. I come to the table with an open mind, a willingness to listen respectfully, no hidden agendas and a commitment to carefully consider issues that come before the supervisors.