Upper Macungie Township voters will go to the polls Nov. 8 to select a township supervisor. On the ballot are Republican incumbent and Democratic challenger
Patch posed seven questions to the candidates concerning township issues. The answers appear below in alphabetical order by last name:
1. Describe the challenges you see in Upper Macungie.
JOE CORCORAN: In the current economic climate, we need to be really smart about how we spend money. We need to do everything we can to get more from every tax dollar. That’s going to take new ideas and a different way of doing things. The ‘same old, same old’ doesn’t work anymore.
KATHY RADER: Township challenges change from day to day. Some of today's challenges are issues with the Fogelsville Dam; unfunded state and federal mandates; obtaining permits for township projects (such as Independent and Grange Road parks); traffic issues and community development.
2. What is the biggest challenge facing UMT residents at this time?
CORCORAN: In the short term, it’s deciding who they want to lead this township. Do they want someone with new ideas and an open mind who has the best interests of the township residents in mind or are they happy with the status quo? We also face a big challenge with the future of our police department.
RADER: The current state of the economy is the biggest challenge facing Upper Macungie residents at this time. With township revenues down, efforts must be made to maintain the current levels of service, without increasing taxes. That's why last year I voted against the tax increase and supported reductions in spending.
3. What would you do to address these challenges?
CORCORAN: I’ll expand on this in the answers to the next two questions, but I have proposed replacing a position in the Community Development Department with a township anager. I will also vote to expand the Board of Supervisors to five members and make financial reports available at each township meeting.
RADER: Prioritize the problems and the solutions while minimizing the expenses. Meet with state and federal legislators to help them understand how unfunded mandates and policies affect the local level of government and township residents. Seek alternative funding through county, state and federal grants.
4. Do you favor hiring a township manager?
CORCORAN: Yes. Hiring a township manager will provide us with the expertise we need to run the business of our township on a daily basis. A talented person in that position will save us money and make township services run as efficiently as possible. Most importantly, we can do it without raising our payroll!
RADER: Presently, the five department heads "team manage" most of the daily operations. As they retire or move on, I could see a need for a manager. However, during these difficult financial times, a good experienced township manager for UMT will cost $90,000-$110,000 a year, plus benefits.
5. Do you favor increasing the number of supervisors?
CORCORAN: Yes. We need new ideas and healthy discussions about the challenges we face as a township. Two more voices will give our township the insight of more of our neighbors and help us to make the best decisions for all of our residents.
RADER: In my opinion, it is not necessarily the size of the board, but the quality and dedication of the individuals serving on the board that makes the difference.
6. Can Upper Macungie successfully fund its own police force if there is a split from the ?
CORCORAN: If we had to, I think we could but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for us to do. We really don’t know how much it would cost us to have our own police force. I think there are economies of scale that still make it more cost-effective to remain in the regional department. However, I also have concerns about our regional department, including pension obligations and the ability of our partner municipalities to meet their funding requirements.
RADER: If UMT decides to break away from Berks/Lehigh and fund its own police, I do believe we can afford to do that without raising taxes to pay for it. We already pay 75.8 percent of the cost and would be able to focus those resources solely on our police.
7. Describe why you are the best candidate for the supervisor seat.
CORCORAN: I will be a true advocate for the residents of the township and represent their best interests on the Board of Supervisors. My background as a small business owner and as a volunteer firefighter in the township gives me a unique insight to the challenges we face and the solutions that will make our township as great as it can be!
RADER: From my years of experience living and working in Upper Macungie Township, I have gained valuable knowledge of its history, the problems it faces and how to solve them. I continue to work to control spending, fight tax increases and maintain the quality of life the residents of Upper Macungie deserve.