Wolf Administration Recognizes Recipients of 2018 Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence
Harrisburg, PA – On behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin today recognized municipalities and local government officials for their dedication and commitment to strengthen their communities and better serve their residents.
“More than any other level of government, our local governments often have the greatest and most immediate impact on the lives of Pennsylvania residents – and are often the source of innovation and outside-the-box thinking that every level of government can aspire to emulate,” Secretary Davin said. “It’s my honor to recognize the local officials, governments, and organizations that have accomplished such outstanding achievements in the past year.”
Twelve communities and seven individuals from across the commonwealth were recognized for excellent service as part of the 22nd Annual Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence.
The following local government officials were recognized for their dedication to public service and their communities:
- Mrs. Anna H. Swailes, Supervisor/Secretary, Metal Township, Franklin County (nominated by PA State Association of Township Supervisors)
- Mr. Chuck S. Mummert, Jr., Mayor, Elizabethtown Borough, Lancaster County (nominated by PA State Association of Boroughs)
- Mr. Salvatore J. Panto, Jr., Mayor, City of Easton, Northampton County (nominated by PA Municipal League)
- Mr. John Kuntzelman, President Commissioner, East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County (nominated by PA State Association of Township Commissioners and PA Association of Councils of Governments)
- Mr. Kevin Barnhardt, Commissioner, Berks County (nominated by County Commissioners Association of PA)
- Ms. Felicia Dell, Director, York County Planning Commission (nominated by PA Chapter of American Planning Association)
- Mr. Timothy G. NeCastro, President/CEO Erie Insurance, City of Erie, Erie County (Received the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service to Their Community, nominated by the Center for Local Government Services)
The following municipalities, organizations, and counties were recognized:
Responding to Adversity
Goshen Township, Clearfield County
The Responding to Adversity award is given for overcoming an exceptionally difficult situation or obstacle. Goshen Township, particularly Secretary Terri Cunkle, set a high standard of excellence for Department of Community and Economic Development peer consultants and has done an outstanding job of providing service to Pennsylvania’s local governments in crisis. Cunkle is always willing to go the extra mile to solve difficult situations and train new secretaries.
Innovative Planning and Sound Use Practices
The Innovative Planning and Sound Use Practices award is given to a local government that has instituted an innovative approach to planning principles, sound land use, or utilization of renewable energy sources. Bucks County participated in the Municipal Economic Development Initiative (MEDI) program, which assists municipal governments by devoting resources to revitalize downtowns, redevelop brownfields, enhance existing technology centers, support small-scale businesses, improve older shopping centers, and encourage transit-oriented development. Thirty-two out of 54 of the county’s municipalities participate in the volunteer MEDI program. The Bucks County Planning Commission spearheaded the process by soliciting municipal partnerships, pursuing communication with private entities, and facilitating public participation.
The Information Technology award is given to a local government that utilized new information technology as an innovative tool to foster greater public access to local government and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness. Clinton County’s Management Information Systems (MIS) provides provide seamless communications and data functionality to hundreds of people on a daily basis. Services include tech support, telephone, and audio/visual services to several municipal and social service entities within the county. The county also does this for the conservation district, the tourism board/chamber of commerce, and the City of Lock Haven, on a network they created from scratch.
Health and Wellness Initiatives
Sharpsburg Borough, Allegheny County
The Health and Wellness Initiatives award is given to a local government that demonstrates a direct involvement in efforts to provide health and wellness benefits to a community. Sharpsburg Borough received this award for the development and implementation of a weekly farmers’ market that provides the community with fresh produce and other foods, and a wellness fair that incorporates the concept of mental wellness, physical activity, proper nutrition, quality of life, and overall well-being.
Fiscal Accountability and Best Management Practices
Ferguson Township, Centre County
The Fiscal Accountability and Best Management Practices award is given to a local government that has instituted a process, policy, or procedure that enhanced its fiscal accountability and utilization of resources and assets, and which can serve as a model for other local governments to use as a best practice. The finance and administration departments of the Ferguson Township have been committed to providing a transparent and easily-understandable budget document through several initiatives. For example, the Budget Executive Summary has provided a vehicle to explain the complex process of municipal budgeting to a broad audience of people. It condenses hundreds of pages of budgeting information to a 35-page illustrative document for which the community can be proud.
Ambridge Borough, Beaver County
The Fiscal Accountability and Best Management Practices award is given to a local government that has instituted a process, policy, or procedure that enhanced its fiscal accountability and utilization of resources and assets, and which can serve as a model for other local governments to use as a best practice. Ambridge’s new Fire Department Code Enforcement Program is a unique initiative that other municipalities can use as a model that has saved tax dollars, doubled the staffing of their career fire department (combination department, both paid and volunteer), and increased the efficiency and service hours of their department to cover operations.
Promoting Community/Economic Revitalization
Upper Dublin Township, Montgomery County
The Promoting Community/Economic Revitalization award is given to a township directly involved in efforts that revitalize a designated residential, commercial, and/or industrial area or property. Upper Dublin Township’s board of commissioners, staff, planners, and engineers have taken a thoughtful and assertive approach to revitalizing the more than 60-year-old Fort Washington Office Park. To implement key recommendations, the township commissioners formed a Steering Committee on Redevelopment and Economic Investment (CORE), which they have since replaced with a new General Municipal Authority in 2016. This vital partnership between the municipality and business community continues to work together on various initiatives.
Innovative Community and Government Initiatives
Borough of Dormont, Allegheny County
The Innovative Community and Government Initiatives award is given to a local government that has instituted an innovative approach to carrying out its community and/or governmental function that resulted in cost savings, increased productivity, improved risk management, and/or overall service delivery efficiencies. The Borough of Dormont executed a downtown revitalization program, the Potomac Avenue Project, that utilized new products and technologies to incorporate storm water management into the road and sidewalk restoration. The project used innovative construction materials and techniques to stop flooding in an area prone to aerial floods, as well as filter contaminants and detain the equivalent of a ten-year storm. Estimated replacement costs determined that the cost of the innovative approach saved significant funds over the life of the project.
Hampden Township, Cumberland County
The Innovative Community and Government Initiatives award is given to a local government that has instituted an innovative approach to carrying out its community and/or governmental function that resulted in cost savings, increased productivity, improved risk management, and/or overall service delivery efficiencies. In response to growing environmental concerns regarding storm water, Hampden Township initiated the first Storm Water Authority in Pennsylvania. The Hampden Township Cedar Run Restoration Project, working in conjunction with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), consisted of the retrofit of two storm water best management practices and the construction of a storm water injection well. As part of the project, the SRBC and the township will host information sessions to educate the public about the project and the effects storm water can have on the local and national environment.
New Brighton Borough, Beaver County
The award is given to a local government that demonstrates it is presently providing outstanding service through coordination between two governmental units. New Brighton shared resources among neighboring municipalities and the New Brighton Area School District for maximum efficiency. Existing intergovernmental cooperation agreements have allowed the borough to eliminate duplication of efforts and save taxpayer dollars through shared policing, recreation, code enforcement, and administration. The agreements provide high-quality services to the residents in a cost-effective manner and have made financial incentives available with decreasing tax bases and diminishing revenues.
Building Community Partnerships
City of Latrobe, Westmoreland County
The Building Community Partnerships award is given for fostering partnerships between both public and private stakeholders within the community. In the 10 years of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program’s (LCRP) existence, they have transformed their downtown from empty, dilapidated buildings to a thriving and growing city. The city has supported and partnered with the LCRP to reverse a long-standing trend of deterioration of their downtown. These efforts have created a renewed interest and an enthusiasm in their downtown and throughout the community.
The Building Community Partnerships award is given for fostering partnerships between both public and private stakeholders within the community. The Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority (WVSA) Regional Stormwater Management Project in Luzerne County is designed to create opportunities for streamlined regulations, economies of scale, strategic partnerships, and a more affordable cost for property owners who benefit from stormwater services. Thirty-two municipalities serviced by WVSA will participate in this collaborative venture. The goal of this project is to reduce stormwater pollution to the Susquehanna River and to continue to honor Pennsylvania’s commitment to the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
The Governor’s Center for Local Government Services sponsors Local Government Day annually to honor local governments and officials who serve their communities and improve their quality of life. For more information about the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, visit the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Michael Gerber, DCED, 717.783.1132