DuBOIS – Supervisors of the Township of Sandy, at their meeting on Monday, welcomed residents to comment and ask questions about the proposed merger between the Township and the Town of DuBois.
The meeting, which moved from the township’s usual municipal building to the West Sandy Fire Co. on Dixon Avenue, brought together about 30 residents, many of whom shared their views on the proposed referendum. November 2, which presents a consolidation within the framework of a third-class city and a council-director type government.
Steven Smith, of Treasure Lake, referring to the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL) which conducted a review last week on its independent consolidation study for DuBois and the Township, said he thought “they significantly overestimated tax savings “.
He noted that the PEL did not include changes in police and staff pay / benefits, facility changes / additions and transition costs.
Smith also asked why the residents of Treasure Lake should take responsibility for the water supply system when there is no possibility that they will ever use it.
âWhen we are consolidated, we will take this responsibility for this debtâ¦â said Smith. “Why would Treasure Lake agree?” “
Smith also said the population of Treasure Lake jumped 38% in the last census.
âBy consolidating, that percentage of the population with a combined entity was 19 percent,â Smith said. “Why would Treasure Lake be willing to lose its influence over its local government?” It just doesn’t make sense.
Linda Van Slice, from Sabula, said: âWhat we’re wondering about this consolidation is how is it going to affect us there because we’re probably not going to see water and of sewers. And even if we do, do we have to give up our wells and septic system? The other thing is what else would they do for us there? Our roads are no longer maintained. Our land (roads) is always messy, very difficult to drive. So we don’t see road maintenance the way we should. What will happen to us when it becomes the Town of DuBois?
Van Slice also expressed concern that there are currently no gun dumps in the town of DuBois and how that would affect township residents.
According to the consolidation study, a Pennsylvania Game Commission law enforcement supervisor for the North Central region, which covers Clearfield County, said a consolidation or new municipal statute would not change hunting rights, as these are decided at state level. He further said that recent court rulings have asserted that municipalities cannot replace state hunting law by attempting to prohibit or restrict it beyond current state practice.
Charley Reynolds has said he is in favor of a smaller government.
âMy personal experience with larger government has been that there are a lot of fun things going on,â Reynolds said. “I was in favor of consolidation before going to this (PEL) meeting, now I’m not sure.”
Reynolds said everything he heard at last week’s PEL meeting was “positive, positive, positive.” He said it cannot be true that there is nothing negative about consolidation.
Terry Noble, who thanked the supervisors for bringing this issue to the fore and for the work they do for the township, spoke in favor of consolidation.
âAnd the reason I’m for that, primarily, is for exactly the same reason Mr. Reynolds spoke,â Noble said. “And that is to say, it presents the opportunity for a smaller, more efficient government.” Now it’s true, the new government may be bigger than the current body here, but when you combine two governments into one, the main goal is efficiency. And by having a more efficient, smaller and more limited government, we should all benefit. “
As a resident of West Sandy, Noble said he has no doubts his water bill will benefit if it consolidates.
âBut our whole region is literally decaying before our eyes,â Noble said. âI have been here for 60 years. I saw that. This presents an opportunity that we can seize and have a better direction for the future. “
Noble said the real key to the consolidation issue does not lie in the November 2 election.
âObviously you have to be successful for that to happen,â Noble said. “But the real key to that comes the following year, in the consolidation deal, and as township residents, our vote should definitely control the direction of the merger going forward.”
Over the next two weeks, Noble encouraged voters to contact residents of St. Marys, referring to a consolidation between St. Marys and Benzinger Township that took place about 20 years ago.
âI have had the chance to speak with a number of them and almost to the end they feel it has been beneficial,â Noble said.
Lisa Bundy said what she took away from last week’s PEL meeting was that “everyone’s taxes are going to go down because of the loss of staff.”
âMy other thought was that the town of DuBois has a lot of rules and ordinances, and I was wondering if they would apply to the Township of Sandy,â Bundy said. “The way it sounded the other night, it would be the new council that was elected that would choose the ordinances.”
According to PEL, the goal of the Consolidation Agreement Committee would be to issue a unified zoning ordinance without disrupting current plans. The panel recommended keeping the current zoning as it exists as much as possible – this is one of the things that tends to make consolidation more successful.
Bundy, who has said she is currently opposed to consolidation, said she is also interested in hearing supervisors’ personal views on consolidation. Supervisors expressed their views later in the two-hour meeting.
Sarah Hoover, of Treasure Lake, said that while the private gated community will not benefit from lower combined municipal water rates under consolidation, she believes the growth of the Township and Town of DuBois is helping Treasure Lake.
âThis is where my point of concern is,â Hoover said. âWe want Sandy Township and DuBois to grow up and be strong and good because it helps Treasure Lake, we don’t get much from Sandy Township because we don’t have the right to do it. This is the situation of Treasure Lake. I can’t do anything to change it. So that’s where I’m from – I’m torn between growth and extra spending and different controversies, which I never want to see.
The full 200-page consolidation study is posted on the township website âsandytownship.net.