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West Donegal OKs New Phone, Lighting Systems to Save Money

West Donegal Township supervisors unanimously approved new phone and lighting systems that have up-front costs but are expected to save the township hundreds of dollars a month going forward.

The township is currently paying $440 to $445 a month for its phone service through CenturyLink. The new voice over internet protocol system from Verizon will cost $960 up front, then $265 a month going forward. Although the phones will not work when the internet service is disrupted, Township Manager John O. Yoder III told supervisors at their meeting on Monday, May 21, that internet service has not been interrupted since he took on the township manager job in December.

Replacing all the fluorescent lights in the township office building with LED lights will cost $4,644 after a rebate from PPL Electric Utilities; Yoder said the utility savings will be about $1,500 a year. Yoder said it should take no more than three years for the township to save more on energy bills than the cost of the transition.

Supervisors agreed to have their solicitor move forward with preparing an ordinance establishing a property maintenance code based on neighboring Mount Joy Township’s ordinance. Yoder said such a code would allow the township to force action when a building has structural problems visible from the outside or when police see problems upon entering a home. Yoder said those problems could be structural or could be about problems like vermin in the home or animal hoarding. Yoder said police have asked the township to do something about those issues, but the township currently has no power to do anything. Supervisor Douglas Hottenstein expressed reservations about the ordinance, saying a 30-page document makes him suspicious.

Supervisors approved an ordinance requiring businesses with alarms or sprinkler systems to have keys to the business in a lockbox that firefighters can open. This allows firefighters to enter the business without breaking in when the alarm is sounding or the sprinkler system is activated. Supervisors also approved final revisions to the pension ordinance to allow benefits to be pro-rated when an employee retires mid-year and to a burning ordinance to correct word usage. Supervisors also approved a policy that sets ground rules for allowing township employees who are volunteer firefighters to leave work to respond to fire calls.

Yoder also updated supervisors about a new text-message system that the township has access to free of charge. He said it will be similar to a system used by the Elizabethtown Area School District, which sends him messages regularly because he is the parent of a high school student.

“Every time something happens at the high school, I get a text about it,” Yoder said.

He said only people who sign up to get text messages from the township will get them and the system is ready to go.

“That’s up and running. I’ve tested it on myself. It works,” Yoder said.

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