Radnor Patch has reached out to local candidates to find out more about them. Here is information from Rich Booker.
Name: Richard F. Booker
Running For: Radnor Township Commissioner, Second Ward
Party Affiliation: Republican
Political Positions Held Previously in Radnor: School Board Director (2003-2007)
Why are you running for office: Ultimately, I am running for office to make a difference to the governance in Radnor. I am taking on this challenge, to improve the operational efficiency and to lower expenses related to Radnor Township operations. I believe that the Radnor Board of Commissioners works best when the skills of each participant complement each other. My candidacy brings expertise tax law and municipal finance to the Board of Commissioners. With Kevin Higgins departure from the Board, I bring knowledge and experience to lead the Township to a better, more stable financial condition, and potentially improved credit rating.
What do you think are the biggest issues you would face in office:
First, is the issue of transparency in local government. The Township Board of Commissioners continues to make major deals for the use of taxpayer funds in secret. The Commissioners are in the process of making a deal to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to acquire a “view shed” at Newtown Road and Darby Paoli Rd. The rumor is that they are rushing to spend $11 million or more taxpayer dollars to purchase wetlands, steep slope areas and riparian buffers on the site. I value open space and parkland in Radnor. However, we should not spend taxpayer money for unusable land that would never be developed anyway.
Another secret deal relates to the development of a new 225,000 square foot sports facility, on open space land that the Township is going to give to the developer at 145 King of Prussia Road (BioMed). This past week, the Township presented development data showing the site as containing 27 acres. They know that the BioMed site is only 19 acres. They showed the higher acreage, because it included the adjacent Township parcel of 8 acres, which almost certainly will be given to the developer for the development of the sports facility. In this case, the Commissioners took a gift of $50,000 from the developer (which I wrote about documenting the conflict of interest), and they now refuse to let the public know what deals they are making behind the scenes.
As Commissioner, I will not allow these types of backroom deals to be done. I will insist on public hearings and disclosures on major transactions and the acceptance of gifts.
The second pressing issue, is the imposition by the Township of a new tax, they are calling a “stormwater fee.” The Township has known about and studied stormwater issues for years, but never did anything about them. The Township never even finished the stormwater project in Wayne that was the companion to the Radnor Middle School development. In fact, they have allowed over development of the Township, exacerbating the stormwater problem. The Commissioners decided to spend millions of dollars to overbuild their administration building (they are now proposing renting out the second floor, as it is way too large). They also decided to acquire property, and build a largely unused “pocket park” on Lancaster Ave. for over a million dollars, but they never addressed the infrastructure projects to help with stormwater backups.
I would never vote to impose a new tax on the residents, to take care of infrastructure issues that should have been addressed years ago. The Township Commissioners did not do their job over the last 20 years to maintain the stormwater infrastructure – they should do it now, with available resources. They should issue bonds, or work with our neighbors to create a regional Stormwater Authority to issue bonds, and properly review, prioritize, develop five year capital plans and build these projects. They should not impose a new tax on all of the Radnor residents, to benefit a few people in limited areas.
Finally, the Township faces significant unfunded obligations related to unfunded accrued actuarial pension liabilities and other post employment benefits. These issues will need to be addressed in order to provide for a secure financial future for Radnor Township.
If elected, what would you aim to accomplish: As Commissioner I will work to address the Township’s unfunded accrued actuarial pension liabilities and other post employment benefits, and to reduce the Township’s overall expenditures. As a finance lawyer and tax professional, I am uniquely qualified to address these issues. In addition, I have a great deal of experience in financial transactions, especially those related to municipal finance including current and advance municipal bond refundings, defeasance escrows, municipal bond underwriting. All of which are instrumental in maintaining Radnor’s sound financial standing and credit rating.
I will also work to reduce the expenditures and enhance the financial condition of the Township by focusing on rationalizing administrative staffing levels. Further, with respect to all union employees, I will pursue a policy of rigorous evaluations such that the maximum efficiency and output is achieved by our Township workforce.
Next, I think that it is time that we have a citizens committee to develop a master, long term development plan for Radnor’s second ward. The second ward in Radnor has a great deal of corporate development, but no one has considered how the future corporate development in our ward impacts the neighborhoods. Further, no one has developed plans to mitigate traffic, and provide safeguards to maintain the quality of life for Radnor’s second ward citizenry. As Commissioner, I will work to put together a committee and a new Master Plan for Radnor’s Second Ward, to address these issues.
As Commissioner, I’ll make sure that we improve the appearance of our railroad and pedestrian bridges through an aggressive refurbishment program. I’ll work with our police and school board to improve the quality and safety of our schools, and finally, I’ll cut the cost of government and improve efficiency at the local level. I’ll be fighting for the constituents of the Second Ward to maintain and improve our quality of life in Radnor, and to provide the best possible executive Board to serve the Township.
Finally, as Commissioner, I will be an advocate for transparency for our local government. I will insist on public hearings and disclosures on major transactions and the acceptance of gifts by the Township by developers and others.
Website/other information to promote:
Facebook: Richard F. Booker