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Sadsbury to Vote on Whether or Not to Have Two Additional Supervisors

By Bryan G. Robinson 10/24/2002

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, residents in Sadsbury Township will be asked if they want to increase their local township board of supervisors from three to five.

The referendum came about after a group of citizens in the township filed a petition with Chester County Voter Services.

Specifically, Bob and Stephanie Silvernail were the two residents who spearheaded the petition drive. Bob Silvernail is on the township zoning hearing board, and Stephanie Silvernail is chairman of the township planning commission.

In telephone interviews last week, the Silvernails discussed why they would like to see two additional supervisors on the local board.

Both said they believed the main reason there was a need for two additional supervisors to the now three-member board was because of increasing development in the township.

"We're seeing the pressure firsthand," said Stephanie Silvernail of her and her husband. "We're at every meeting and we're seeing what's happening. The meetings are getting longer and longer and there are more issues to discuss. This was our reason for asking for the referendum."

"We thought by putting the question to the residents, it would give them the opportunity to decide," said Bob Silvernail. "If they decide so, then fine; if not, then fine. That's the way a democracy should work, putting the question to the resident."

Asked what was meant by diversity, Bob Silvernail said, "We'd just like get a few more opinions." He said the board currently doesn't seem too diverse. "It doesn't seem like all the residents are getting representation, in my opinion," he said.

However, two of the three supervisors don't agree with the Silvernails and believe that a three-member board is large enough to service the needs of the township. In a letter in this paper ["Here is some knowledge about your township business" Oct. 11-16, 2002], supervisors Ralph "Joe" Garris and Doug Doratt encouraged voters to vote "no" on Election Day in response to the referendum.

And in a telephone interview last week, Garris said he didn't believe there was a need for two additional supervisors. "We don't need them," he said. "In a township that had only about 2,500, 2,600 people in it, I think it will confuse things."

Also in their letter, Garris and Doratt said, that it would take "more taxpayers dollars to support a board of five members than it does to support a board of three members." Asked about that, Garris said he wouldn't be able to say if there would be an increase until budget time. "I will suspect it will cost more money to do business and to get that money, it will be done through taxation."

He said

However, others including the Silvernails and former supervisor Neil Heineman, who was on the board from 1996 to 1991, argue that the salary for a supervisor is set at no higher than $1,875 by the state's second class township code. And even with insurance at $125 per supervisor, the amount is only $3,875 for both supervisors, they argue. That amount, they contend, would not amount to enough for a tax increase.

"If anybody wants to do homework, there will be no tax increase," said Bob Silvernail. "The salaries are set by the state government and we know what it costs to insure a supervisor. I doubt very seriously if you divided it by the number of residents there are in the township, it would amount to pennies."

Bob Silvernail said personally he believed the mention of a tax increase was used as a scare tactic to "rile up" senior citizens.

However, Frank Pyzanowski, one of those senior citizens who has lived in the township for the last 46 years, said he believed there could be an increase in taxes. "There has to be an increase in taxes when you're adding two," he said.

Pyzanowski also said there were other things besides salary such as conventions supervisors sometimes attend, mileage for those conventions. "That's extra money the township has to put out."

And Garris said the extra money needed would be from extra meetins and extra paperwork. "Every single thing that we're going to do is going to cost that much more," he said, including calls to the township solicitor, social security and workman's compensation.

In their letter, Garris and Doratt also said, "If the board of supervisors had a desire and need to expand the board to five members, the present board could do it by a majority vote. A referendum on the ballot is not necessary unless there is some underlying reason."

And in the telephone interview last week, Garris said he didn't like the "underhanded" way the petition came about. "All we had to do was make a motion, no hassle, no fuss, but they chose not to do that and chose to go behind our backs," he said. "It just makes things more complicated..."

Bob Silvernail said he didn't approach the board, but that if he and his wife had, he doubts that the board would have voted to approve the additional two supervisors. "It's pretty obvious from their letter that the two of them are against it," he said.

Stephanie Silvernail said that there isn't a requirement that the issue has to be cleared with the supervisors. "We followed the procedure dictated by the state," she said. "We went directly to the residents for them to sign the petition."

Also on the subject of a possible tax increase, she said that personally with she and her husband being residents and business owners in the township, they didn't want to see taxes increase either. "We don't want taxes to increase for anyone," she said. "We're trying to look out for residents as a whole."

She said the petition wasn't presented with malicious intent toward the supervisors.

Bob Silvernail also said he was disappointed in the letter that mentioned "the sweet-talking story originally given to the residents to coerce them into thinking that this petition was in the best interest of the township." Bob Silvernail said, "That wasn't the case. The way the question was put, it was up to the voters to decide."

Both the Silvernails are Republican, and Garris and Dorrat are Democrats. Asked if the issue was a partisan issue, Stephanie Silvernail said the petition drive wasn't driven by partisanship. And asked if she would want to run for supervisor, she said, "Yes, I would." However, she said she had been thinking of running for supervisor before the referendum and that even if the referendum didn't go through, she would still run next year when the seat held by Terry Franciscus is up.

As for Franciscus's opinion on the referendum, in a telephone interview last week, he said, "It would be up to the voters." However, asked if there was a need for additional supervisors, he said, "More than likely yes. We have additional development coming at us from all side."

And what about a tax increase? "For what little you make, no," he said.

İCoatesville Ledger 2003


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