Lower Pottsgrove To Build Municipal Campus on 3-1 Vote

Lower Pottsgrove commissioners Ray Lopez (left at top) and Bruce Foltz as they prepared for Thursday’s meeting

SANATOGA PA – An $8 million “municipal campus” that the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners has planned during the past two years to replace its existing municipal building – considered too small for at least a decade – will move ahead toward construction, the board decided at its Thursday night (Nov. 19, 2020) meeting in a 3-1 vote.

Commissioners Bruce Foltz, Ray Lopez, and Robert Mohollen all favored the proposal, Michael McGroarty cast the sole dissenting vote, and Earl Swavely Jr. was absent.

The campus would be created at the southeast corner of East High Street and South Pleasant View Road, at what is considered Sanatoga’s busiest intersection.

The meeting attracted only a few audience members and just two, Chuck and Sharon Colletti, continued to raise objections to the project’s size, cost, and future impact on township taxpayers. Sharon Colletti, formerly the township secretary, said many of its residents “don’t have the income to afford a tax increase.”

“You don’t listen to the people,” Chuck Colletti charged, telling commissioners, “it’s ridiculous, what you’re doing.”

“We didn’t do this off the top of our heads,” board President Bruce Foltz responded later in the meeting. He noted that, during earlier month, audience members recognized the need for new quarters for township operations, even if they didn’t like the price tag. “We’re doing the best thing we can do for the community,” Foltz said.

The township’s “Capital Reserve Fund Tax,” designated to help pay for the construction and which currently costs the owner of an average home about $62.50 annually, remains unchanged in the tentative 2021 budget. It’s expected to bring in about $300,000.

Raising the tax rate seems possible in 2022, commissioner Robert Mohollen suggested.

The township anticipates selling municipal bonds for the project at a “virtually unheard of” interest rate of 2.5 percent or less, he said, indicating the low cost of financing prompted the board to act now. “It’s not going to be around for long,” Mohollen said of the rate, and added that had the board delayed later interest rates would be significantly higher. “It behooves us to act now. I think this is the solution,” he said of the campus.

As he has from early in the campus discussions, McGroarty again referred to the building’s size and expense as “concerns” that resulted in his opposition. However, he praised the work of the board Infrastructure Committee in reaching its recommendation for the building.

Mohollen in turn thanked McGroarty for pressing the board to explore alternatives. “We may disagree, but I certainly understand and respect your decision,” he said, swiveling to talk with McGroarty directly. McGroarty’s comments forced board members “to ask more questions,” Mohollen acknowledged.

Having made the decision to proceed with the project, commissioners also agreed to hire bond specialists, the Dilworth Paxson LLP law firm of Philadelphia, for its services with the municipal bond offering at a cost of $18,000.

Photo by The Post