New Hope Borough Newsletter
|February 2020||A Quarterly Publication of New Hope Borough||Midwinter Issue|
Council Welcomes New and Returning Members
The new year ushered in a new member of the New Hope Borough Council. Louise Feder, a freelance writer and curator, joins the Council for her first term, along with returning members Laurie McHugh and Ken Maisel. The three were voted into their positions at the November, 2019 election and were sworn in to their new four-year terms at the Jan. 6 Borough Council reorganization meeting.
Feder will serve as Council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board, while McHugh and Maisel will continue their previous liaison duties – McHugh with the Shade Tree Commission and Maisel at the Historic Architectural Review Board.
Ken, Laurie, and Louise join the four current Council Members: Connie Gering, Council President, Dan Dougherty, Council Vice-President, Tina Rettig, President Pro-Tem, and Peter Meyer, whose terms continue until Dec, 2021.
Council members (l-r) McHugh, Feder and Maisel are sworn in on Jan. 6
ABOUT NEW HOPE BOROUGH COUNCIL:
New Hope has an elected 7-member Borough Council which plays a central role in Borough government. Council sets policy, enacts legislation, adopts budgets, controls expenditures, appoints advisory commissions and boards, and hires employees.
New Hope Scores High on Human Rights Campaign Evaluation
The largest national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization has given New Hope Borough high marks – 89 out of a possible 100 points – on its 2019 Municipal Equality Index. The index examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there.
"We’re constantly working to ensure that New Hope remains a welcoming and friendly place to all," said Borough Council President Connie Gering. "This year’s score reflects some important improvements we’ve made in municipal services and law enforcement reporting over the past two years. Working with dedicated local partners like New Hope Celebrates, we’re aiming for a perfect 100 from the HRC in the coming years."
The Borough received perfect scores for its non-discrimination laws, municipal services, law enforcement, and leadership on LGBTQ equality. The Human Rights Campaign also granted points for New Hope’s non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits for Borough employees.
This annual evaluation, consisting of over 500 municipalities, included all state capitals and large cities, municipalities that are home to large public universities, and those with a high proportion of resident same-sex couples.
Visit the HRC’s website to read more about the annual MEI report.
New Hope Holds Property Tax Steady for Fifth Year Running
New Hope Borough rang in the new year with its fifth budget in a row without a property tax increase. The 2020 budget, which holds the Borough’s total real estate tax rate at 13.77 mils, was approved at the Dec. 17 Borough Council meeting.
"Our residents and merchants count on us to hold the line on taxes," New Hope Borough Council President Connie Gering said. "A steady tax rate allows families to plan ahead and businesses to grow – that’s the formula for a vibrant economy and a fiscally-responsible government. The Borough is, by far, the smallest part of your overall real estate tax bill, and we’re working to keep it that way."
For New Hope homeowners, the Borough’s real estate tax millage is just under 10 percent of the average property tax bill. Bucks County accounts for 17 percent and the New Hope-Solebury School District, at about 100 mils, is responsible for 72 percent of the total real estate tax burden.
"The Borough keeps the peace and paves the streets, promotes commerce and celebrates community – essential services we depend on every day," Gering said. "The work we do must be steady and reliable, and its cost should be, too."
The budget continues strong support for emergency services, including 24/7 ambulance coverage, approved overwhelmingly by New Hope voters in a 2017 referendum. The Free Library of New Hope and Solebury also benefits from additional funding for a second year in a row, coupled with nearly $20,000 in additional in-kind support from the Borough.
Borough administration continues to take measures to improve efficiency and update operations that have helped the Council set clear budget priorities, according to Gering.
"The Borough finds itself in a relatively healthy financial position today due to careful attention to the fiscal controls, which are one of the primary focus of this Council. Thanks also to the hard work of Borough staff, we are confidently moving into our fifth year with no real estate tax increases," Gering said.
Bucks County Census Information Portal
The Bucks County Planning Commission, working with the US Census Bureau and the County Commissioners, has created an online clearinghouse for information about the upcoming 2020 Census. In addition to information and resources related to the Census itself, the web portal also has a link to explore job opportunities related to the Census.
Property Maintenance Check-Up
All property owners of the Borough are encouraged to be mindful of safety and property maintenance of your properties. The Borough enforces existing safety and property maintenance codes, and the following are some of the more common occurrences of concern, so please be sure to maintain your properties and the condition of your surroundings with the following regulations in mind:
- High Weeds and/or Grass (Borough Code Chapter 109 §109.1)
- Outside Storage/Trash and Garbage (Borough Code Chapter 223 §223.24)
- Parking of Abandoned Vehicles󠆦 (Borough Code Chapter 207 §207.1)
- Snow and Ice Removal (Borough Code Chapter 233 §233.1)
- Stormwater discharge (Borough Code Chapter 207 §207.1)
- Rodent/Vermin Harborage(Borough Code Chapter 207 §207.1)
- Blocking of Sidewalk (Borough Code Chapter 233 §233.7)
- Trash Cans not meeting Setbacks or Screening (Borough Code Chapter 223 §223.24)
- Exterior/Façade Improvements needed (Borough Code Chapter 207 §207.1)
- Unsafe/Dilapidated Building or Structure (Borough Code Chapter 207 §207.1)
- Defacement of Structure and/or Property (Borough Code Chapter 207 §207.1)
- Bamboo Growth (Borough Code Chapter 109 §109.22)
- Pool in and Unclean/Unsafe or Unsanitary Manner (Borough Code Chapter 207 §207.1)
- Sidewalk in need of Repair/Tripping Hazard (Borough Code Chapter 233 §233.3)
The Borough’s enforcement emphasis is on public safety, preserving our neighborhood character, and open communication with residents. If you have any questions or concerns, contact:
Steve Olkowski, Borough Code Enforcement Officer
215-862-3347 Ext. 151
Keystone Municipal Services, Inc.