Supervisor Candidates asked the most important issue facing Tredyffrin Township – Snyder, Wysocki & Duffy Respond

We know that local elections and the choices that voters will make on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8 are important. I sent a three-part question to Tredyffrin’s 3 Democratic supervisor candidates and the 4 Republican supervisor candidates.

Following the League of Women Voters debate on October 24, I received responses to the question from the Democratic candidates; however, the Republican candidates declined to participate.  Below is the question and the responses from Democratic candidates Tory Snyder, Murph Wysocki and Molly Duffy.  A similar question was posed to the Democratic and Republican school board candidates and those responses will be posted tomorrow.

Dear Supervisor Candidates:

Local elections are important. As a candidate for Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors in the upcoming election, I hope that you will participate in the following Q&A on Community Matters.

In 200 words or less, please respond to the following questions. Incorporate all three parts of the question into your response and please be specific in your answers.  Supervisor candidate responses will be posted on Community Matters in the order that they are received.

(1) In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing Tredyffrin Township?
(2) If you were elected, what would you do to help solve or improve this issue?
(3) Tredyffrin Township needs problem-solvers; what in your background or job experience qualifies you to help solve this important issue?

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VICTORIA ‘TORY’ SNYDER
Democratic District 1 Supervisor Candidate

The largest issue facing Tredyffrin is how to provide public services that our citizens expect given falling revenues. The basis of solving this problem has to lie in economic revitalization that strengthens our tax base. Only by ensuring highest and best use of our properties, can we maximize property values and stabilize our budget. Compared to other communities in our area, Tredyffrin is financially an easy place for businesses to locate — we have neither an earned income tax nor a business privilege tax.

If I were elected, I would make it even easier for businesses to locate or expand here.  Specifically, I would recommend updating our zoning code to remove, reviewing our fee structure and making sure our Township is properly staffed to provide prompt project reviews and permitting.

I have a Master of City Planning degree from Penn and have planned for County, local and private clients. I am also a ten year Tredyffrin Planning Commissioner. As a Planning Commissioner and active Township volunteer, I have seen and understand firsthand the barriers to redevelopment in Tredyffrin. I have the depth of education and experience to draw from in knowing how to remove them.

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F. MICHAEL “MURPH” WYSOCKI
Democratic At-Large Supervisor Candidate

The most important issue facing Tredyffrin Township today is money, how to best manage revenues and expenditures for the benefit of Tredyffrin’s taxpayers.

As supervisor, I will explore public/private partnerships, grants, pooled purchasing, and other sources to tackle our funding challenges.  I will exercise sound fiscal management to ensure that Tredyffrin taxpayers receive best value township services for their tax dollars.

I will vigorously pursue economic revitalization.  Economic revitalization means a broader tax base, additional revenues, and tax stability for all Tredyffrin residents.  If elected, I will work tenaciously, with vision and leadership that we have not seen from Tredyffrin supervisors, to bring economic vitality to Paoli by moving forward on the stalled Paoli Transportation Center/Town Center project.  I will seek a new beginning for the Chesterbrook Village shopping center.

As a commercial real estate attorney with thirty-nine years of experience in supervising, structuring, negotiating, and closing large, complex financial transactions, I know how to get people to “yes.”  I understand project budgets and the coordination of complex financial arrangements.   If elected, I will work with Tredyffrin residents and my fellow supervisors to ensure Tredyffrin’s financial strength and economic vitality.

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MOLLY DUFFY
Democratic At-Large Supervisor Candidate

The biggest issue facing Tredyffrin is keeping our taxes low by growing the tax base, and managing our tax dollars in a responsible way.  To create more revenue, we need more taxpayers.  To attract more taxpayers we need to be constantly working to make Tredyffrin the kind of place businesses and families want to locate.  There are also ways in which our expenses could be better managed that are not being pursued by our current board.

If I were elected, I would work tirelessly on economic development and revitalization.  I would forcefully support the Paoli Transit Center and town revitalization as a catalyst to more private development in the area.  I would pursue more federal, state or private grant money to continue to provide more of the kinds of amenities that make Tredyffrin attractive to families and companies who want a great place for their employees to live.  I would pursue joint efforts with other municipalities to create development corridors, and consider purchasing pools to reduce costs.

I am an attorney with a focus on environmental, land use and transportation issues.  My work as the past chair of the Environmental Advisory Council and current vice-chair of the Sidewalks, Trails and Paths committee, advisor to the Paoli Professional and Business Association in its work to develop a business improvement district and member of the Paoli Rail Task Force  has shown that I am a leader and catalyst who can complete projects that benefit all Tredyffrin residents.

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  1. While I understand the theory of spin-off economic benefit that might occur by having more stores/businesses in our community, I continue to wonder if the Democratic candidates understand that those “empty storefronts and offices” are paying the same amount of property tax (i.e. revenue) to the township as they would be if they were filled.

    Their ideas on economic development don’t increase revenue unless what they want is to develop undeveloped property — of which there is very little in the Township and, I am pretty sure, most people don’t want to see developed.

    [Reply]

    Lawrence Husick Reply:

    What “From the West” fails to mention is that Tredyffrin has substantial numbers of properties that may be REdeveloped that are presently UNDERdeveloped. Key among these is the Paoli business and station area, which has been stalled for too long. It’s not necessary or useful to build on every parcel in the township, and no candidate is proposing to do that. That is just simply another straw man. We have heard from these three candidates what they propose to accomplish in clear terms. How about a response from the rest of the field?

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    From The West Reply:

    From what I can tell through the debate and other information is that the Republican candidates — through the Economic Development Committee — have already begun this process by meeting with property owners, business owners and residents. They are also interviewing for the Committee members themselves. So, once again, as at the debate and their handouts, the Democrats seem to be promising to do things (fiscal disc, econ dev) that their Republican counterparts already are.

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    Lawrence Husick Reply:

    Bravo, West (by the way, using handle means that in some ways, you’re not prepared to stand up for your positions – so consider using your name in the future)!

    So… everyone is on the same page, and is working for the good of our community. That’s the spirit!

    So why complain about Democratic candidates who will support and continue these efforts? Why reject their good-faith positions in support of something you like and support yourself? Could it be because you are blinded by party labels, and refuse all opportunities to engage in open debate and fair consideration of each candidate’s qualifications?

    Just sayin’

    TBO Reply:

    As I understand it, the primary sources of revenue are property taxes and transfer taxes. If I am wrong please let me know.

    The candidates seemed to agree that the township is built out and redevelopment is the key. The question I have is, how much more income can be generated by the redevelopment? I was waiting for one of the candidates to give an estimate.

    Otherwise, they all sounded very much the same, in which case it is just a popularity contest.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    From the west: That’s a great point, that we get the same property taxes whether the buildings are filled or not. So let’s just leave them empty. I mean, that worked for Detroit, right? It’s working out quite well for Camden and Chester too! And let’s not forget all the other wonderful cities and towns in this country that saw this policy as a cost savings to the taxpayers and how well that has done. Just leave the eyesores as is. Leave the railyard as is too. It’s such nice open space. I often take my beach chair there and admire the view.

    Your quote:
    “Their ideas on economic development don’t increase revenue unless what they want is to develop undeveloped property — of which there is very little in the Township and, I am pretty sure, most people don’t want to see developed.”
    — I can tell that you know home economics more than you know real economics. A vibrant economic community raises demand for space, that raises rents, that raises property values. People come and spend their money. Besides the additional economic benefit it would bring, it would be nice to have more storefronts in Paoli and Berwyn, it would make it more livable. apparently that’s lost on you though. You have no idea what you are talking about. You give us republicans a bad name.

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    Doesn't Add Up Reply:

    Government cannot create demand, only bubbles…

    [Reply]

    Anonymous Reply:

    Government can get out of the way and allow the wheels of commerce to turn. An occupied building is better than an empty building. It doesn’t deteriorate. Similarly, a plane that doesn’t fly deteriorates. Towns that don’t have commerce crumble. The point is that business have to want to be here. You have the largest transit center outside of Philly. and there are empty storefronts around. So you ask the question why? The better question is, what can government do to help the businesses? is it better parking you need? Shall we allow outdoor dining? Better walking? Can we give you some money to spruce up your facade? That’s what goverment can do . Government can also discourage economic development, and be happy with empty buildings because after all, you get the property tax, right FTW? And that’s the absolute worst thing you can do . Go ahead, disagree with me .

    From the West Reply:

    Anon –

    First, not a repub

    Second, I do understand all those points and agree. That is why I said I understand spinoff economic benefit, because that is what you describe.
    That said, my point is still correct: those properties will only provide the revenue they provide, no more. When the dem candidates say that their econ dev ideas will increase revenue, they won’t. Unless, of course, they plan to attact new workers and implement an eit. :)

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  2. It would be great if people would just deliver the promises that they make during campaign season. This is for all candidates. If you state you are going to do something if you are elected then I want you to be held accountable to do it.

    I havent seen any discussion about term limits in Tredyffrin but I think its about time. Olson has served his community for a long time, some good decisions and some bad. Regardless I think it is time for a new fresh vision. Folks in Mt. Pleasant need better representation from their supervisor!

    [Reply]

    Anon Reply:

    How about term limits on the Planning Commission. At least the Supervisors are elected.

    [Reply]

  3. Lets face it — the only redevelopment we can hope for would be funded by grants….until the US economy improves. Grants are typically federal or state — tax dollars — so I am doubtful that our community deserves them.
    This Olson bashing is getting boring. Don’t vote for him if you prefer his opponent, but he absolutely lives what he preaches — he doesn’t want to spend tax dollars or any dollars if it’s not worthy. He lives what he says — and I am comfortable knowing that given the demogrpahics of our community, he is a solid representative of a very fundamental core of citizens. And term limits would not apply — he was once an “at large” supervisor, lost and then ran as a region supervisor. I dont’ know how long he’s been in this seat, but it wouldn’t be long enough to worry about it. 10 years on the Planning commission — the municipal body that does approvals — seems like Ms. Snyder has had a boatload of influence for a long time….and somehow things we need more development in this area. Not sure that’s the core constituency I can agree with.
    New development or sales of existing buildings would generate interim and transfer tax — but improving property does not generate new revenue unless there is a reassessment….so I still see confusion about just what the problem is, and what could solve it.

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  4. Where is the imagination in this township? Take Chesterbrook Village for example. It is an obsolete design that does not attract tenants. When the economy recovers a bit, and the current owner, Blackstone, thinks they can flip it at a profit, the township could be encouraging developers to look at just tearing it down and doing some kind of mixed use development. It’s already zoned that way. If they had retail on the first floor and residential above, it could generate more taxes than it does today sitting idle. The neighbors could have some decent shops on the ground floor, including maybe a food store.

    You could say the same about some of the office buildings in the Chesterbrook. They are difficult to rent because they are outdated. Tear a few down and you could create a space to keep Shire here.

    We need to think bigger than getting tenants into outdated buildings. Once a recovery takes hold there will be private and public funding availability for these regenerative projects. Maybe we’ll have fixed our zoning and permit processes so it will be easy for companies to regenerate here. We’re certainly on all the right transportation routes but many of our buildings have seen better days.

    [Reply]

    Township Reader Reply:

    It is not the business of the township to encourage a developer to tear something down. Market forces do that. If you have ever rented space in a commercial venture, you know that “build out” contributions are part of the negotiations. You pay a certain amount rent, and you ge tan allowance from the owner to make changes to the building.
    If an owner is unable to rent the building, then they are driven to make changes on their own. SO — let’s not talk about imagination?
    I’m not particularly fond of the letter writer this week in the paper, but there are two Jefferson quotes that come in to play at this time in our unstable economy:

    “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.”
    and
    “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

    Perhaps you read earlier on this blog where a real estate professional was lamenting that the township should be purchasing a vacant lot in Paoli behind buidlings he had brokered as additional parking. That would presumably improve the value of the buildings. Ironically, this was POST sale — where the buildings sold for a considerable discount. THAT is the market at work. If you buy the buildings at a discount, you should provide your own parking….and including parking land in your P&L for purchasing should be automatic.

    So — not to worry. If buildings do not rent, they will be torn down if that is economically feasible. We are not thinking about getting tenants into outdated buildings. That’s the “redevelopment” mentality.

    But before we put too much energy into vision and redevelopment, maybe we should be reading the financial section of the newspaper. Tredyffrin is not an isolated issue — and deeper pockets than our taxpayers are being assaulted financially by the global meltdown. (Ask Jon Corzine — he trashed NJ and now it turns out he is a version of Bernie Madoff). You cannot always spend your way out of trouble. The bill (or the audit) comes due.

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  5. From the West – you say Democrats are only promising to do what Republicans are already doing. In 2009, Michelle Kichline and Phil Donahue had economic development in their campaign materials and debate points. Two years later, three supervisors have begun to meet with business leaders – just in time for the election.

    Molly Duffy began calling for expanding our tax base through economic development in the primary, and newly appointed supervisor, Mike Heaberg, suddenly became the public face of the Kichline/Donahue ideas. That was in February. Ms. Kichline said in a recent BOS meeting that the three supervisors had held approximately eleven meetings with various township people.

    That’s not a lot to say for two years. And they only asked for citizen volunteers in late September. If that is your idea of doing, I would hate to see your definition of inertia. Maybe some new people with fresh ideas and some energy – and backgrounds in planning, economic development, and real estate law – could actually get this initiative up and moving before another two years pass. Don’t confuse talking about doing something with actually doing it.

    [Reply]

  6. Perhaps the R candidates sense that this blog may be a bit biased towards a certain party. Just maybe….

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    I disagree.

    If you have followed CM for any length of time, you would probably see that I am issue-driven & not a fan of party politics. If you look back on CM during the days leading up to the May’s Special Election, you would probably have some of the Democrats arguing that I was not in ‘their corner’ over the use of an anonymous quote from Community Matters on a political mailer. Further, I have not used my forum to publicly endorse any supervisor or school board candidate.

    However for the record — prior to the Primary Election, I did give my vote of confidence to my friend Tom Hogan, candidate for District Attorney. But other than endorsing Tom Hogan for DA (and he would be a Republican) I have been consistent about specific issues and electing problem-solvers that will help the community. I could care less which party they represent — Republican, Democrat, party of purple . . . it’s simple, I just want those elected to deliver on what they promise!

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  7. Just so my views are clear, I am an advocate for the schools but think we need a balanced approach. I was disgusted with the contention that the budget has been mismanaged. That is not true especially in the light of unfunded mandates from the state in the past. Some of the candidates want to go to the very state that helped everyone get in the hole for a solution. How exactly can the state help with insolvent pensions?

    The teacher’s union only made the salary freeze concession after it became plainly obvious that they were losing the support of the parents and we would not tolerate being held hostage by them.

    I understand the issues are complex and the solutions aren’t easy. We want and need to preserve the top quality education that TE is known for but all parties need to accept that the glory days are gone.

    More government is seldom the answer, usually the problem. Not in every case, but in most.

    [Reply]

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