Doylestown Borough bids adieu to mayor, councilmen
Dana M. Eckman
As Doylestown Borough Council deemed the soon-to-be-gone 2013 a triumphant year over tribulations, council members gave a hearty sendoff to the departing mayor and two councilmen with plaques and gratitude for their service in office.
At the Dec. 16 council meeting, outgoing Mayor Libby White and Councilmen Dennis McCauley and Kevin Kelly were honored with awards for their contributions as public officials. White presented McCauley and Kelly with plaques, and Council President Det Ansinn honored White, the borough’s first female mayor, with her plaque.
McCauley and Kelly will be replaced by council-elects Joe Flood and Jack O'Brien.
The council reorganization will take place on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall. The governing body will swear in its new mayor, Ron Strouse, at this meeting.
“We've accomplished some great things along the way,” White said of her eight years in office. “It’s rather emotional and I’m at a loss to really explain what it feels like.”
In other business, the Suburban Realtors Alliance announced that Doylestown Borough is the recipient of the organization’s annual Open Book Award for Transparency in Local Government. The borough was chosen from 238 municipalities in southeastern Pennsylvania for its efforts to provide residents and local businesses with detailed, up-to-date information about public meetings, proposed ordinances, borough finances and existing rules and regulations.
“The Open Book Award recognizes the efforts of boroughs and townships in southeastern Pennsylvania to put the public’s right-to-know at the forefront of their business and activities,” said Jamie Ridge, president/CEO of the alliance. “Doylestown Borough’s willingness to provide easy and open access to critical public information is an excellent example for other area municipalities to follow.”
Among Doylestown Borough’s best practices, the group said, are a robust municipal website with access to meeting schedules, draft ordinances, minutes and agendas; a highly detailed annual budget process that includes placing key documents online; and openly encouraging communication between staff, elected officials and residents and businesses in the township.
“We're proud to be a community that uses the web and social media to improve engagement with our residents and simplify their interactions with local government,” Ansinn said. “While it is great to be recognized, we are still working to further improve resident access to valuable information and bring government into the 21st century. Everyone benefits from this increased transparency and level of communication.”
“While residents of Doylestown may not agree with every decision made by borough officials, they are privileged to have open access to the process used to make those decisions,” Ridge said. “That is certainly not the case in all municipalities, some of which hold on too tightly to information that should be easily accessible to the tax-paying public.”
Established in 1998, the 9,000-member Suburban Realtors Alliance is a subsidiary of the three largest local Realtor associations in Pennsylvania: the Bucks County, Montgomery County and Suburban West Associations of Realtors. The focus of the alliance is to encourage public policy decisions that create a positive climate for real estate sales, consumers and property rights.
Also, the budget passed last Monday night will keep the tax rate flat, at 12.725 mills, or $330.85 for a home valued at the borough average of $26,000, and increase spending by about 2.9 percent. The $6.02 million budget passed unanimously.
The budget includes a $98,000 savings through the new Central Bucks Regional Police Department, combining both New Britain and Doylestown’s police forces on Jan. 1. The police department still has the largest line item in the budget at $2.4 million, followed by general services at $874,000.
The 19-officer police force will officially take over Jan. 1.
The borough also passed a measure allowing benefits for domestic partners of employees. Councilwoman Susan Madian said the change would not cost the borough any money in the 2014 budget.
Starting next year, borough residents will start to receive a monthly, rather
than quarterly, sewer bill from the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority, Borough Manager John Davis said.
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