Avoiding taxes, guiding development are focus of Elverson election

ELECTION 2013 LOGO round

With Election Day approaching, the candidates for Elverson borough council are focusing on how they plan to help guide development in the borough while attempting to keep it property tax-free.

Four terms are expiring on council, and Republican incumbents Esther Prosser and Merle Stoltzfus are looking to hold on to their seats. Three other candidates are also vying for a place on council, including Republicans Bob French and Dwight Frizen and Democrat Tim McEwen.

Prosser, a realtor with Stoltzfus Enterprises and the sister of fellow incumbent Merle Stoltzfus, said it’s her passion to keep the borough property tax-free and minimize local government.

“I’m a conservative when it comes to spending,” she said. “I want to keep managing our finances and make sure our spending is monitored well.”

She praised previous councils for saving money during times of development, like when Summerfield was being built. “And now we’ve had this little bit extra to fall back on through these slower years,” she said.

“Another part of my vision for the next four years is to promote local business on Main Street,” she added. “You want cute shops and boutiques to attract people to stop and spend money, and not just drive through town. I’d love it to be a destination town.”

Bob French said his background in project management for a large corporation would be useful for planning for the borough as it grows, especially in physical projects like streets and roads.

French, who has lived in the borough for seven years, added that his experience would also be useful in reporting to the borough what impact the state’s turnpike expansion project will have on the community.

As the community continues to grow, one of the biggest concerns to Dwight Frizen is the traffic in town. Speeding motorists on Main Street have been a concern to many residents lately, he said.

Frizen said he thinks an LED light sign that shows drivers their speed along Main Street might help control speed.

“It slows you down because you don’t know if there’s a cop down the road or something,” he said. He doesn’t know how much they cost, but it’s just one idea he’s had.

He’d also like to find ways to attract cable companies to the area, he said, since Service Electric is the only company that offers service in Elverson.

“I’d like to see a little more competition in there,” he said. “I know years back there was a contract in place, and I understand that because that’s how the infrastructure gets built. But that was years ago and I think it’s time we brought in Verizon and Comcast.”

Frizen shared the other candidates’ concerns for raising taxes, saying he would be interested in finding other ways to raise funds for the borough without implementing local property tax.

Tim McEwen also expressed interest in finding alternatives to taxes, not wanting them himself, but acknowledged some kind of tax might be inevitable.

Like Prosser, he acknowledged that previous councils managed to save money in times of development, but since that source of income is no longer coming in, he said the borough will have to seek alternatives.

“There are certainly some parts of the budget we can cut back to try to balance things as much as we can to put as little burden on the taxpayers as possible,” he said. “A lot of people here in Elverson are on a fixed income and they can’t afford to have a lot of taxes.”

“My grandparents are from here and I’ve been here all my life, so I’ve seen how things go here,” he added. “I’m not going to stop the expansion, but you’ve got to do things based on what’s best for the town.”

He said he is a “hands-on kind of guy” and that he will do anything he can himself to save taxpayers money, such as helping out with the renovations on borough hall.

Although McEwen is the lone democrat on the ballot, he doesn’t think partisan politics will have much to do with the race. One of his goals is to get residents more involved in the government process, he added.

“Vote for who you think will do a good job,” he said. “Don’t just check off a box for a party. Try to get more involved. That’s the big issue.”