Bucks County Herald

Richland votes to hold referendum on number of supervisors

CLIFF LEBOWITZ

While they couldn’t agree on use of the township newsletter to help inform residents on the issue, Richland Township supervisors were unanimous in approving a resolution to have a public referendum on whether the township should change from having a three-person board of supervisors to a five-person unit.

The action was taken at the July 10 board of supervisors meeting, authorizing a referendum question to appear on the Nov. 7 municipal ballot, which is to ask, “Should two additional supervisors be elected to serve in this township?” with the opportunity to simply vote yes or no.

For the “plain English” version of the question, the resolution notes “the ballot question asks the voters of Richland Township whether the township board of supervisors should continue to consist of three (3) elected supervisors or if it should be expanded to consist of five (5) elected supervisors.”

Later in the meeting, Supervisor Tim Arnold and Supervisors Chair Tim Ritter voted against a motion by Supervisor Rick Orloff to allow an article on the subject written by him, and not subject to editing, for the township newsletter, with space available for other supervisors to write on the topic as well. During the discussion, it was suggested that the proposed article might be construed as use of taxpayer dollars, through use of the township publication, for political advocacy, which is not allowed.

The idea of expanding the board of supervisors previously came up during Orloff’s recent campaign for new accountability to the township by the independently-established Richland Township Water Authority (RTWA). He suggested the expansion possibility after he was unable to gain support from Ritter for formal proposals to establish a new accountability for the RTWA, and then was unable to establish a candidate to run against Ritter in the recent municipal election, where Ritter gained a new six-year term.

During his campaign for the idea, Orloff had complained of an inability to use the township newsletter to explain his advocacy as a public interest issue, as well as an inability to use the existing government structure to adequately pursue the advocacy.

His opponents on the board and in the community have insisted that the idea is more accurately characterized as politically and personally motivated against Arnold, who is also the RTWA’s executive director.

Also during the July 10 meeting, Township Manager Paul Stepanoff praised L & L Construction Inc., on California Road, for free use of its crane to help install a new air conditioning unit for the township building. He added that the company had also offered their crane, for considerably greater savings to the township, to help install what officials hope will be a new, permanent, pre-fab restroom for Veterans Park, for use during softball events of the Richland Area Softball Association and the Quakertown Community School District.

In addition, officials announced agreement with a private property owner, thereby avoiding the use of eminent domain, to gain the final easement needed to start construction of the Closed Loop Project for Route 309. The project has been in the works for more than 15 years, and will establish a traffic signal timing system, with a real-time monitor, that can enable timing changes to respond to traffic flow and volume. A completion schedule update is expected from the township traffic engineer at the Aug. 14 board of supervisors meeting.

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