John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
The elephant in the official Newtown Township Citizen Survey, which closed on July 9, 2020, is Question 15: "Would you be willing to pay higher Township taxes for increased services?"
In light of the projected COVID-19 caused loss of Earned Income Tax (EIT), which accounts for more than 60% of general funds revenue, the wording of Question 15 might better be "Would you be willing to pay higher Township taxes to prevent cutbacks in current services?"
It should be noted that Newtown Township has one of the lowest property taxes in the area. The Township's 4.5 mill tax amounts to $196.20 yearly town tax on a home with a market value of $400,000 and an assessed value of $43,600 (the approximate average home market/assessed value in Newtown Township in 2018). None of the tax money collected is deposited in the General Fund, which pays salaries of the Police, Public Works, EMS and other township departments as well as other expenses such as legal fees, etc. [More...]

The Newtown Area Jointure (the joint municipal zoning consortium comprising Newtown Township, Upper Makefield Township, and Wrightstown Township) would like your help in determining future planning needs for your community. The Jointure is beginning the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 2009.

The Comprehensive Plan is the Jointure's primary land use policy document that sets goals and objectives, and a vision for future development and growth. The Jointure would like to hear the views of as many residents as possible, and is committed to ensuring the community plays an active role in developing the policies that will help shape the development in the Jointure for the next ten years and beyond.

Questions include: Why did you choose to live in your township? What are the best characteristics of your community? What do you consider to be the most important problems facing your community? Overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the residential development within your community? Overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the commercial development within your community? [More...]  

Take the Survey NOW

At the July 8, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Township Solicitor Dave Sander attempted to answer John Mack's request to clarify the timeline and next steps for approval of the final version of the E-30 amendment to the Newtown Area Zoning Ordinance that would allow a combination gas station/convenience store use.

Mr. Sander argued that the draft amendment first be shown to Provco, which represents Wawa, for their review/approval before sending the finalized document to the Bucks County Planning Commission and then to the Boards of each of the Jointure's member townships. Recall that Provco is suing Newtown because it lacked such a use in any of its zones.

Mr. Sander warned the Board that this "curative amendment" would have no bearing on the court case, which Provco can still proceed with. [More...]
Listen to his comments and opinions of Newtown Supervisors Mack and Calabro here.

In June 2020, as Bucks County moved into the COVID-19 "Green Phase" when some businesses re-opened, I spent 56.2 hours on official supervisor business. Although that's still below the average of 63 hours per month in January and February before COVID-19, it is well above the 33 hours for June 2019. There were more committee meetings to attend, which required more preparation time. [More...]
Based on response, additional meetings may be scheduled in the future.
Submit your comments/questions via my Newtown Police Town Hall Questionnaire in case you are unable attend for personal reasons (e.g., conflict) or if you were not able to attend due to seating limits. Include any questions or comments you wish for me to submit to the Chief. You also can submit questions/comments/concerns directly to the Chief via email to: [More...]
John Mack's's Insights:
On June 17, 2020, more than 25 people attended aa Newtown Human Relations Commission Zoom meeting to discuss several ideas to achieve the goal of ensuring that there is No Place for Racism in Newtown Township and Borough. Organizing a Town Hall meeting with the Police Chief was one action item. Others included:
  • Coordination between the Township and the Borough Human Relations Commissions to work together
  • Work with the Peace Center and Bucks Community College to host events
  • Address racism issues in schools and advocate for K-12 curriculum to include minority or black and indigenous and LGBTQ history, make an active effort to hire and train a more diverse, nonwhite teaching staff, etc.
  • Build awareness in our communities through the showing of movies and discussions afterward
  • Organize book club discussion groups
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At the July 2, 2020, Zoom meeting of the Economic Development Committee (EDC), members Karen Miller, co-president of the Newtown Business Commons Association, and Joseph Blackburn, an Associate with Wisler Pearlstine, proposed ways that the township can revitalize the Newtown Business Commons, which is zoned for light industrial and office use. This is especially important after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and businesses get up and running again but find that more workers can work at home and they no longer need as much office space.

One specific suggestion was to apply under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA) to lower real estate taxes for businesses in the Commons. Other local municipalities are using this tool to revitalize their business districts (read, for example, "Northampton Extends LERTA Tax Break Program for Businesses"). [More...]
Listen to this 11.5 minute audio snippet for the details.

On June 24, 2020, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved a resolution "establishing guidelines and policy for outdoor sales of merchandise and/or outdoor dining for existing businesses in Newtown Township during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
You might say this is opening a door that many businesses have already walked through. Several restaurants, for example, have already established their own guidelines (read, for example, "Solstice Restaurant Develops Health & Safety Guidelines for Dining Based, in Part, on Reopening Survey").
Nearby municipalities - including Newtown Borough, Doylestown Borough, and Middletown Township - have already passed similar resolutions weeks ago. Newtown's resolution was modeled after Montgomery Township’s resolution and in accordance with CDC guidelines. [More...]
John Mack's's Insights:
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A letter and petition by Council Rock School District (CRSD) graduates Farah Contractor and Danielle Randall, was distributed via Facebook by Janai Robinson, who has been active in the Newtown area #BlackLivesMatter movement,urges the CRSD to "do better and actively prepare their students to become upstanding citizens who will fight for progressive change."
The letter and petition will be sent to the Council Rock School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, and various school principals. I learned about the letter through the Concerned Community of Council Rock School District Facebook Group.
The authors claim that CRSD falls short of its very own mission statement: “Council Rock School District, in partnership with its community, empowers all students with the knowledge, habits, and attitudes to become life-long learners and to lead and serve in a diverse global society.”
The letter lists several "action steps" that CRSD should follow to achieve that goal, including changes in curriculum, hiring a more diverse teaching staff, etc. [More...]
Find the letter, the action steps, and a link to the petition here…

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the sources quoted and John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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