Thursday, March 25, 2010

A great deal for Middletown Township

For the past two weeks, I have been immersed in painting the downstairs of my home. So, I have been a little distracted – although not enough not to notice that President Obama has produced a great win for the American people who truly care about improving the health care delivery system in the U.S. Maybe a decade from now we won’t have the 37th place ranking among the world’s nations – right below Costa Rica and only two places above Cuba.

I received an interesting phone call earlier this week from a friend whose property was needed for a cell tower. He called to see what I knew about the deal Middletown Township was getting for the two towers currently going up here. I explained that basically the Township receives $10,000 yearly per carrier on the towers and there are currently two carriers on each.

It is very likely that the number of carriers will rise to at least five of the six carriers that cover this area, so we could be earning about $50,000 from each tower, with regular increases included in the lease agreement.

In his case, the company negotiating the lease for his property – which is not Tower One, the company working for Middletown – offered monthly payments that added up to just under $20,000 for two carriers that would be included with the initial erection of the tower. However, they were offering him a one-time payment of $2,500 for any carriers that were added after the tower went up.

Obviously, when he heard of the agreement Middletown reached with Tower One, he is going to take a tougher stand with the company that wants to lease his land.

To me, this highlights two important points – thanks to the research of Supervisor Robert McMonagle, Middletown Township is getting a great deal that will help hold the line on taxes, and there is a lot of demand for tower sites to help fill in the gaps created by the explosion in cell phone use. So get ready to see one of these near you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Incredible Short-Sightedness

With all the howling and gnashing of teeth over cell towers at the past few Middletown Township Board of Supervisor meetings – particularly on the March 1 day-after-a-full-moon meeting – protestors are missing the point. Their irrational behavior is exemplified by their anger over a simple question put to them by Supervisor Robert McMonagle: “Do you own a cell phone?”

According to U.S. Mobile Markets: Analysis & Forecasts, the latest report from consumer technology think-tank, The Diffusion Group, by the end of this year, mobile phone subscribers will climb to 75% of the US population or approximately 236 million users. There is a growing consensus that cell phones are no longer a luxury but a necessity.

Because of the sky-rocketing demand, cellular service companies are scrambling to erect the towers needed to keep up with the usage. Mr. McMonagle saw an opportunity to bring in new revenue to the Township last year when he suggested the Board look into locating new cell towers on Township-owned property. Tower One was subsequently tapped to locate potential sites and negotiate lease agreements with carriers.

According to Nicholas Pullin, a partner in Tower One, conservatively, if there are just two tenants on each of the two cell towers currently under a lease agreement with the Township – which is what is currently on both the Veterans' Highway and Langhorne-Yardley Road structures – the total aggregate value of those leases would be $7.5 million over a 29-year period.

Also, these two towers could accommodate up to six carriers, so the potential for income for the Township is significant – income that will lessen what is needed to be collected through property taxes.

Opponents fail to recognize the fact that these towers are strategically sited to meet the demands of service. If the Township didn’t lease the property it owns, the companies would find an alternative private site nearby. Ultimately, these protestors would still have a cell tower in their neighborhood with the revenue going to a private individual or corporation.

These people who show up at each meeting to shout, cheer and jeer are incredibly short-sighted. One suspects that if they were around in the 1870s, they would have protested the erection of the first telephone pole.

Speaking of cheers and jeers, Board Chairman Tom Gallagher has a gavel in front of him at each meeting and should learn how and when to use it. While Mr. Gallagher likes to be the hero of the cell tower opposition, he has a responsibility to run these meetings in a professional manner – they are not and should not be pep rallies for his re-election campaign.

Perhaps some people will show up at the next meeting to thank Mr. McMonagle for seeking out ways to raise revenue in an effort to hold the line on property taxes. Now wouldn’t that be refreshing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Frank Farry: The real reason I haven't done anything in Harrisburg

In a March 5 blog, I chided Frank Farry for the excuses he made in a meeting with the editorial board at the Courier Times. Basically, he complained that he couldn’t get anything done because he was in the minority party.

Today he had a guest opinion in the Courier that is one of the most excuse-ridden, whiney pieces I have ever read. Frankly, I was embarrassed for him.

I was going to write a comment on it until I saw the first blog attached to Farry’s piece. I usually ignore these as they too often appear to be the work of cretins. But in this case, no one could have put it more succinctly. So my hat is off to the blogger who wrote:

“Just what constituents want to hear...a detailed explanation from their representative as to why he has been toothless. Doesn't Mr. Farry know that as soon as a politician starts a sentence with ‘These are not excuses,’ that every voter knows to get ready for the excuses to start flying?

“You know what the ‘reality of some of the things wrong in Harrisburg,’ is? Someone who gets elected, then campaigns on why he wasn't able to get anything done.

“In the ‘Maybe no one will realize I've done nothing’ department, Frank Farry decides that only now that everyone does know he has not been part of the solution, he ‘will voluntarily match the mandatory Senate contribution for his health benefits by sending a personal check to the state monthly.’ Others have been doing it all along. Retroactively sending the money back after you've been exposed only shows just how stupid you think the voter is.

“You might want to consider returning your entire 14 months salary. Maybe the voters won't notice the ‘reality’ of you not doing your job.”

Friday, March 5, 2010

Farry's Excuses Ring Hollow

In the “Thumbs Down” section of the Courier Times criticizes Frank Farry, who by “citing his minority party status over and over again, seems to have thrown in the towel.”

The emphasis is mine since it confirms what many of us already know – Farry is much better at whining than he is at acting. It leads one to wonder if Farry has done anything at all for the residents he is supposed to represent.

The editorial further states: “For example, Farry said he won't initiate a bill calling for state House members to contribute to their health benefits – even though he said he'd be ‘the first one to sign on to it’ – because the bill would be blocked. Glad to hear the representative would sign on. But actions speak louder than words.”

So I have a suggestion: Let’s show Farry what it means to act and send him back to his beloved fire company, where I believe he is still the chief, and send John Toth to Harrisburg who will be a full-time legislator for all the people he represents.

We need someone who acts, not someone who makes excuses.