Franklin Township voters went to the polls to find a ballot quite similar to the one they encountered in the spring. And this time the results were the same.
The referendum for the half percent earned income tax for open space which was defeated in the spring reappeared for the general election, having been reinstated by the current board of supervisors. Again the voters cast their ballots against it by a vote of 841 to 591.
In the supervisors' race, two pro-earned income tax Republican supervisors' candidates who were defeated in the spring, Norman Hughes and Bill Skalish, ran as Democrats this time around through nominations by primary write-ins. Again they were defeated.
Republican challenger Penny Schenk defeated Incumbent township supervisors' vice chairman Norman Hughes, by 825 votes to Hughes's 630 for the six-year term.
The same thing happened in the race for the unexpired four-year supervisors' term. Bill Skalish, who was running on a pro-earned income tax platform, was defeated in the primary but reappeared for the general election as a Democratic write-in. John Auerbach defeated him on Tuesday. Auerbach earned 884 votes to Skalishs's 526.
Schenk, who was reached by phone on Tuesday evening after the votes were counted said she was happy with the results. "I feel really good. John and I are really grateful to the people of Franklin Township," she said.
John Auerbach, who likewise opposed the open space .5 percent earned income tax, reflected on his victory. "I feel very good. We have a big victory. We worked very hard on the two campaigns," he said.
Norman Hughes, lost his seat on the board could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Bill Skalish, who campaigned on a platform stating that an earned income tax to expand open space ultimately holds down school taxes, could not be reached Tuesday night.
In the intervening months between the primary and the general election the candidates have sparred, announcing their opposing platforms and arguing the pros and cons of the earned income tax.
Hughes and Skalish, in arguing for the open space earned income tax, maintained that the primary results showed that people did not entirely understand the tax situation. They needed to know that the real estate half mill dedicated to open space will disappear if and when the earned income tax was enacted.
A mill is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 worth of assessed property value.
Additionally, they have said now is a good time to buy easements and land at a relatively low price. The purchase of land set aside for open space cuts down on the number of new residents and thus the number of students crowding the Avon Grove School District which, she said, add to the tax load.
Supervisors' chairman Nan Latimer, in supporting the votes by the incumbents, said people who are paying earned income taxes outside the township would have that money transferred into Franklin and would not see an increase. Likewise, seniors on fixed incomes would no longer have a millage burden.
Schenk and Auerbach, have argued that enacting the earned income tax and using the money to "leverage" loans to buy more open space will drive the township deeper into debt.
In a recent written statement, Schenk said the township government provides specific services directly related to public safety -- traffic safety, emergency services, road maintenance and zoning. These are the essential core functions. She said her stated plan is to maintain these services at high levels and look for areas of improvement. While she supports and appreciates open space, she said she does not believe this is the time to put residents into deeper municipal debt to get it.
Hughes, a retired employee of Hercules, spoke of the benefits of raising money to "leverage" grants to buy land and development rights. He said that in order to get grants, the township has to put up 50 percent first. Right now, he is concerned with at least three farms that, if the development rights are not purchased, could turn into housing developments.
All votes are unofficial until verified the board of elections.