Milford postpones Pride Month proclamation to next meeting

Milford. The Board of Supervisors also discussed the comprehensive plans, sewage concerns, and workers compensation changes.

| 08 May 2024 | 03:28

At a hybrid Board of Supervisor’s meeting on Monday, May 6, Milford Township decided to push a vote on proclaiming June as LGBTQ Pride Month to the next meeting after no one seconded a motion to pass it.

Three members of the public attending the meeting spoke in support of the proclamation, and one spoke against it. Resident Lisa Jenkins called on the supervisors to pass the proclamation to “honor the history of queer people in Pike County.”

“Recognizing LGBTQ pride does not cost the township a cent,” Jenkins said. “It does not legislate. It does not endorse particular political positions or parties. But what it does do is honor the reality that queer people have been contributing to the beauty of our county, past and present, and that you as elected leaders understand it is not a controversial thing to support this community.”

The Pride proclamation request was submitted to Pike County Commissioners and every municipality in the county last week, she said. During the meeting, resident John Hellman stepped in to inform Jenkins that Westfall Township unanimously passed the proclamation.

Local organizations such as Delaware Valley Action, Victims Intervention Program and Jewish Fellowship of Hemlock Farms have backed the request, and a petition in support of the proclamation had amassed 200 signatures at the time of the meeting, Jenkins said.

There is a “problematic and worrisome” national landscape of increasing anti-LGBTQ legislation, Jenkins said, and LGBTQ people experience increased anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts when they feel the place they live does not recognize their identities. We have heard from high school students here in Pike County who can’t wait to leave because of the perceived anti-LGBTQ attitudes held here by both adults and their peers,” she said.

Milford resident Pierre Tardy opposed the proclamation and said it is “not a good idea” because of his beliefs about how children should be raised. When Tardy later reiterated his position, Supervisor Board Vice Chair Rachel Hendricks offered him a copy of the proclamation.

“I would really like you to look at the resolution itself and identify what language in the resolution you think is inappropriate,” she said.

Hendricks read the proclamation aloud and introduced a motion to adopt the resolution. Supervisor board member Robert DiLorenzo pointed out that the township does not recognize a month for other groups, like people with cancer, and expressed concern that recognizing Pride month would be “discrimination against everybody else.”

“I have no animosity toward anybody, I just think we don’t need to have the awareness month when there’s other issues,” DiLorenzo said.

Supervisor Board Chairperson Gary Williams said he was “not personally ready to vote” and proposed revisiting the proclamation at the supervisors’ next meeting May 20, which Hendricks seconded.

Comprehensive plans

The supervisors discussed comments on the Milford Township Comprehensive Plan, including which municipality to use as a comparison. Attorney Anthony Magnotta suggested that, due to the volume of comments and revisions, the public hearing scheduled for May 20 may have to be canceled.

In reference to the County Comprehensive Plan, an attendee raised concerns about the prospect of a countywide reassessment. Hendricks replied that in a countywide reassessment, one third of people get a reduction, one third get an increase, and one third remain the same. What concerns Hendricks is that those who get an increase tend to be those who have lived in their properties the longest and maintained them well, which may disproportionately impact senior citizens.

Helping seniors maintain their homes is also listed as a priority in the comprehensive plan, which Hendricks said she views as conflicting with the goal of reassessment.

Sewage Act 537 Plan

The supervisors then discussed costs relating to the Act 537 Sewage Plan. DiLorenzo, who also acts as the sewage officer, offered to volunteer his time to review commercial properties along routes. 6 and 209 to ensure they had “adequate septic or area for expansion or new septic systems,” and the supervisors discussed how to cover the cost of bringing in a soil scientist to accompany him.

Talking about the project overall, Stroyan said the township is “asking some hard questions and wanting a reasonable answer.”

“The position that they’re trying to put Milford Township in is that we’re not a player in the game,” he said. “And that’s not the truth at all.”

Worker’s compensation bill

The supervisors decided to support a statement from the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) calling for “guardrails” to be added to a pending workers’ compensation bill in the state legislature. The bill focuses on compensation related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The recommended guardrails include adding language to the bill to ensure those receiving compensation are active members who respond to emergency calls and that the “qualifying event” is the primary cause of first responder’s PTSD, Hendricks said. The statement also calls for specifying that medical professionals diagnosing PTSD must be board-certified psychiatrist or psychologist and limiting the benefit to one year, in line with other states.

The bill is an unfunded mandate, and the PSATS’ statement calls upon the state to allocate money from the DHS mental health funding line to support it. Hendricks said PSATS was asking townships to send letters to their legislators in support of their consensus on the legislation.

“I’m currently supportive of coverage for PTSD for our EMS workers, and this has been particularly on my mind in the last week,” Hendricks said, referencing a recent situation in which a new emergency management coordinator arrived at an apparent arson and homicide and had to call for police backup on scene. “I also respect that we do need to have some guardrails on the legislation so that we can keep this system functioning.”