As costs increase to maintain volunteer fire departments and the number of volunteers continues to decline, more municipalities are moving to allow area fire companies to bill insurance companies for materials and equipment used by the organizations when responding to emergencies.
One June 4, Lower Salford Township supervisors approved the Emergency Services Cost Reimbursement Ordinance that would allow the Harleysville Fire Company to, for example, bill an individual's home or auto insurance company for certain expenses. Officials emphasized that those in need of fire company services would not see a bill for materials or equipment, even if insurance companies refused to pay.
Township Manager Joseph Czajkowski said on Wednesday that reimbursable expenses will depend upon individual insurance policies.
The company's $107,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emegency Response) grant lasted about four years but will end in 2015. The money was used for volunteer retention and recruitment programs. It is hoped that money from the new ordinance will help to continue those programs.
Also at the meeting, supervisors were asked during the public comment period for an update on the sale of the Lower Salford Elementary School, which closed to students in June 2013.
While confirming that the township did receive notification by Souderton Area School District that the school was sold in May, Supervisor Chairman Douglas Gifford explained the township has received no additional details on the sale or on possible uses of the property.
In recreation authority business, Gifford reported April numbers for the township-owned Lederach Golf Club, located along Route 113.
According to Gifford, more than 750 rounds were played in April, even with seven days of significant rain. While profits fell under budget for April, Gifford reported that May numbers are expected to be higher.
In unfinished business, supervisors enacted an ordinance amending the Lower Salford Township Residential Office District Zoning Code by adding a Class 3 conditional use category, which would add apartments, retail establishments, restaurants, lodging, and certain drive-through establishments to existing conditional uses. Gifford reminded the public that requests for conditional uses would still need to go through an approval process. While the township's solicitor opened a hearing, there was no public comment or questions on the ordinance amendment.
Supervisors also approved a resolution to dedicate Kensington Circle and Buckingham Circle, phase-I of the Berkshire Court sub-development, located along Sumneytown Pike near Hennings Market. Supervisors also authorized advertisement of an ordinance for the township to vacate those same dedicated sections.
(Editor Larry Roeder contributed to this story)