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Bennington ends years-long run of public service to Hilltown Township in many roles


For Ken Bennington, the essence of a life well lived is rooted in doing right – in trying to make a positive difference for one’s family, community and country.

That’s why Bennington served as an air defense officer – rank of captain – in the U.S. Army. It’s also why the native Philadelphian has served Hilltown, the community he’s lived in for 44 years, as a supervisor, planning commission member and township manager over the course of four decades.

“When you look back at the end of your days on earth, you want to say that your life had meaning, and what you did was important,” said Bennington. “I have no regrets.”

Now, at age 69, Bennington is stepping back from public service into full retirement, having already retired from his career with Merck & Co.

He’s ending his time in office on his own terms. Bennington did not stand for reelection to Hilltown’s three-person Board of Supervisors, which governs the municipality. His time as supervisor will conclude Jan. 5, when election winner and local farmer Caleb Torrice takes the seat (supervisors serve for only a small stipend; it’s not a full-time job).

“The running of municipalities in the 21st century should be the purview of younger men and women,” said Bennington.

Certainly, Bennington stepped up to the plate as a younger man and continued to swing hard over the decades. No pushover, Bennington had a plain-speaking, blunt style that typically left little doubt about his position on an issue. While he rankled some over the years, he says the driving force behind everything he did was the protection and betterment of Hilltown for its residents.

“Mr. Bennington has served this township with dedication,” said Township Manager Lorraine Leslie. “He has always been available to the staff and the residents and has given his time freely. We will all miss him.”

Fellow Hilltown Supervisor Jim Groff had praise for Bennington, too.

“You always knew where Ken stood on a topic and I truly respected the fact that he and I could disagree on something, but neither one of us took it personally,” Groff said. “I truly believe that makes for a good board.”

Bennington and his wife moved to Hilltown in 1975 while he was still in the Army. Nine years later, his service to the township began when he joined the municipality’s Planning Commission, which evaluates development applications and more.

“When I was appointed, I just wanted to contribute and understand what was happening in the township where we planned to live for a long time,” said Bennington. “Back then, we were confronted with an explosion of growth and developers hoping to gobble up everything that they could.”

Bennington maintains the commission worked hard to prevent Hilltown from being overrun with development. Still, he didn’t see eye-to-eye with supervisors, and wasn’t reappointed. Taking things in stride, he decided to run for supervisor. He won, and then went on to serve in the role from 1990 to 2005.

His consecutive years on the board came to an end when he decided to accept the position of township manager – a full-time role that’s essentially the municipality’s chief administrator. Bennington held the manager’s job for several years before going on what proved to be only a temporary hiatus from public life: In 2014, he took office again as supervisor after winning election to the board.

Reflecting on his time in service to Hilltown, Bennington said he’s proud to have contributed to an “outstanding police department with a very safe community; an outstanding road crew that makes us proud every day; trails, parks and controlled growth within the township; three-acre zoning in our rural residential area; a strong open space preservation program; balanced township budgets with very few tax increases in 30 years; and no debt for the township.”

He was quick to state: “I never accomplished anything individually, but in concert with many good supervisors.”

While Bennington’s moving on, he hasn’t totally slowed down. He still works two part-time jobs to stay busy. Looking ahead, he and his wife will be relocating to Philadelphia and spending more time at their condominium down the shore. “I’m also,” he said, “finally going to find some time to get back to my love of reading.” “A more reliable funding source is needed to support this valuable, and necessary, operation.”

All total, Sellersville’s local real estate property tax will now be 27 mills next year – up from 24 mills in 2019.

A mill is equal to $1 of every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. To calculate the municipal tax on a Sellersville property, multiply the assessed value of the property by 27 and then divide by 1,000.

For example, a Sellersville property assessed at $30,000 would owe $810 in annual municipal real estate taxes in 2020.

As part of establishing the local property tax rate for 2020, Borough Council also approved the annual budget that will fuel municipal operations and initiatives for next year.

The budget’s expenses total about $3.93 million – a tally that includes expenses related to fire protection, sewer service and the “general fund.” The general fund, with expenses at about $2.74 million, pays for essentials that include borough administration, police protection and more.

Rivet noted that, in 2020, Sellersville plans to use a grant of $122,500 to help pay for a trail rehabilitation and handicap access improvement project at Lenape Park. Work is expected to begin next summer.

Meanwhile, Sellersville also plans to repave Nanlyn Avenue, Township Road and Chadwyck Circle next year at an estimated cost of $262,000.