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New Pa. laws outlined for Franklin County officials

October 26, 2008|By DON AINES

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. -- There is a stack of new state laws facing municipalities next year that were outlined Thursday night for about 125 township elected and appointed officials at the Franklin County Association of Township Officials fall dinner.

One of those laws, resulting from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, already has increased the cost of repairing and repaving roads, Greene Township Supervisor Charles D. Jamison said.

Jamison's township repaved three roads covering about 2 1/2 miles this year at a cost of more than $550,000, he said. The township had to rebid the project after the court ruled that milling and repaving were public work rather than maintenance under the state's prevailing wage law.

"Two inches was considered maintenance before" the court ruling, Jamison said. The ruling added about $130,000 to the project because it had to be rebid at the higher prevailing wage set by the state, Jamison said. That additional cost was on top of an increase of about $200 in the price of asphalt to more than $800 per ton over the summer, he said.

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Carol Kilko, director of training services for the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, reviewed other new laws affecting townships, including the 15 in Franklin County:

n One new law provides $800 million for sewer, water, storm water and flood control projects, requiring a 50 percent match from municipalities. Kilko said a referendum for another $400 million is on the Nov. 4 ballot.

n Land-use procedural challenges now require challenges to land-use ordinances to be filed with the Court of Common Pleas, bypassing local zoning hearing boards.

n Fire and emergency medical services providers must provide an annual itemized account of township donations, without which townships cannot make additional donations.

n The new open records law effective Jan. 1 will require townships to appoint an open records officer to handle requests.

n Scrap metal theft prevention has been addressed, requiring scrap metal processors and recyclers to record information from the seller when the purchase exceeds $100.

"Obviously, we've all heard the stories," said Kilko, referring to the thefts of copper wire, pipe and other metals that have ballooned in recent years.

Other laws change the wording of the oath of office for municipal officials and provide protections for amateur radio operators, Kilko said.

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