At Monday night’s meeting of the Upper Perkiomen School Board the group granted tax exoneration to two property owners and “did the right thing” for two taxpayers and tabled a vote on $95,000 in repairs to the Education Center’s heating and air conditioning system pending possible action against the designer and engineer of the system.
Jerry and Benita Beck appeared before the board to ask exoneration of a portion of the 2011-2012 taxes on a property they purchased last summer where they have demolished the bungalow home on the property.
Mr. and Mrs. Beck explained to the board that after they purchased the property, they determined that renovations would cost an unreasonable amount of money, and they began demolition of the house themselves shortly after taking possession of it. The property is next door to the Becks’ home in Red Hill.
“The neighborhood has thanked us for tearing the building down,” said Mrs. Beck, who told the board the house had not been lived in for over a year and had become an eyesore.
Mr. Beck told the board that the county has re-assessed the property, and that county and borough taxes have been reduced to reflect the absence of a building on the lot.
“Why was this not resolved at settlement?” asked School Director Rob Pepe.
The Becks replied that they did not know why the school district taxes were not adjusted at settlement, but they speculated that the tax bill, which had been sent to the prior owner, was mailed in mid-July, and that demolition began in August.
After some discussion, the board voted to grant exoneration of $1,174 in taxes to the Becks.
Sam Krivulka, treasurer of the Keystone Independent Baptist Church, located in Upper Hanover Township in a building that had been a car dealership and an antique mall, appeared before the board to ask for tax forgiveness of $20,482 that had been levied on the church because the paperwork asking for tax-exempt status had not been filed.
Krivulka explained that when the church moved from a rented building in Hereford to its present location, the pastor of the church neglected to file the paperwork for tax-exempt status in Montgomery County.
Krivulka told the board that the church building had been up for a sheriff’s sale in October, but that the officers of the church had arranged with the county to stop the sale pending the resolution of the taxes owed.
“You can apply for 501(c)(3) status over the phone,” said Harry Quinque, board president.
Krivulka told the board that the church was incorporated and is thus recognized as a church by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Krivulka said the former pastor also neglected to pay bills to local businesses, and that in total the church owes approximately $34,000. “We are trying to pay all of these bills,” said Krivulka, “it’s the moral thing to do.
Director Pepe held up a piece of paper and said, “Really, the only thing keeping you from tax-exempt status is a piece of paper.”
“We should do the right thing here,” said Pepe, “and give these people some relief.”
The vote to exonerate the church from paying their tax bill was not unanimous. Board President Quinque and Director Bill Scott voted no, but the rest of the board saw it Pepe’s way and voted yes on a motion to exonerate.
After dealing with the tax issues, former School Director Tom McCabe came before the board to ask them not to approve the expenditure of approximately $95,000 worth of repairs to the air conditioning system in the Ed Center building.
“How old is the air conditioning system in this building? Four years?” asked McCabe.
McCabe said that the heating and cooling system in the building should not need repairs after that short time, and he asked why the board was going to spend $95,000 to fix it.
John Sheeran, the director of facilities for the school district explained that in the summer the temperature in the building’s offices would rise to over 80 degrees, and that at first he thought there was something wrong with the air conditioning unit.
But after checking the air conditioning unit and finding it sound, Sheeran said engineer Barry Isett determined that the high temperatures in the offices was caused by hot air flowing into the unit’s intake from the empty space between the office ceilings and the roof.
“On a hot day, it would be over a hundred degrees up there,” said Sheeran. “The air conditioner was lowering the temperature of the air, but not below 80 degrees.”
Sheeran said the repairs to the system would involve installing additional ducting to route the return air back to the air conditioning unit instead of just venting it into the hot empty space under the roof.
McCabe told the board that the architect and engineer who designed the system should have known the air in the offices should be routed through duct-work back to the unit.
McCabe said the architect and engineer ought to have insurance for errors and omissions, and that they would also want to protect their professional reputation by making good on the repairs.
The board agreed with McCabe and voted to have their solicitor look into action that would push the architect and engineer toward paying for the repairs.
In other business, the Magisterial Judge Catherine Hummel swore in five school directors elected to their posts in the November election: Returning directors Jeff Ferrick, Margie Gehlhaus, and Bill Scott and newly-elected directors Cathy Fenley and Raeann Hofkin. Harry Quinque was re-elected president of the school board, and Bill Scott was elected vice president.