Magistrate Judge Kate McGill presented a report of the events of last year; bag ordinance amended.
At her second annual appearance in front of the Springfield Township Board of Commissioners, Magistrate Judge Kate McGill presented a report of the events of last year.
The Magisterial Court in Oreland functions on a local level with jurisdiction of all of Springfield Township, the portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Willow Grove and King of Prussia, and a portion of 476 near the Mid-County Exchange.
Judge McGill sees about 4,000 cases a year. In 2023, 3506 of them were traffic violations. The rest of the cases were local disputes valued at up to 12,000 dollars, Township code violations, civil and criminal cases, truancy, and weddings.
Over the past few years, the Magisterial Court has instituted pretrial services modeled after the system in place in Allegheny County. Pretrial services are designed to minimize unnecessary pretrial detention and disparate treatment.
Previously, the defendant would be processed into the system by a police officer and then presented in front of the Judge who would set bail. Now, when the person is processed, the officer runs a background check and looks at economic records, failures to report, or any pending cases or probation. The defendant then meets with a public defender, something they didn’t previously do until a later stage in the process. At the preliminary arraignments, where bail is set, the police officer, public defender and attorney are all represented.
A risk assessment is run for the defendant, and that report is sent to the Judge, giving them crucial background about the person. Previously, judges were forced to make decisions without that knowledge.
Finally, if the person is let out on bail, they are required to check in with pretrial services to make sure they are complying with bail conditions and connected with resources if needed.
Judge McGill reported that the pretrial services improved the proceedings of her courts and benefitted citizens.
Judge McGill was also appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve on the state’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Board. The board is made up of 13 judges and renders advisory opinions on judicial conduct.
During the month of August, Springfield Township recycled 181.2 tons of material with a 68% household participation rate. The board issued a reminder that hazardous waste, like oil-based paint, varnish, pesticides, gasoline, and fuel, is not recyclable. However, there will be a collection event at the Springford Center on Sept. 23 to dispose of any such items.
On August 9, the Board of Commissioners passed a ban that will start in February 2024, forbidding retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags to their customers. There were several notable contradictions in that legislation that the board addressed.
The first concerns whether or not the ban includes retailers that are not in the township but do business with Springfield Township. The board unanimously agreed that the ban does not apply to any business not located in the township.
The second concerns the state-owned Fine Wines and Good Spirits store. The board unanimously agreed that the store is not included in the township ban because it is controlled exclusively by the state.
Further, the board approved a decision to distribute informative flyers about the ban to local business owners. They also agreed to discuss further opportunities for answering questions including hosting a Q&A.
Shade Tree Commission
Longtime community member Matthew Johnson was approved to be an alternate member of the Shade Tree Commission. He’s worked for Let’s Go Outside in Philadelphia since 2019 and has a deep passion for the environment. Johnson’s appointment was met with approval from all who attended.
2024 budget meeting schedule
The 204 budget process is now underway. The schedule of upcoming meetings includes a budget workshop on Oct. 18, a budget presentation on Nov. 18 and a budget hearing on Dec. 13.
Community Day will be held on Sunday, Oct. 1, starting at 9 a.m. with a fun run. Other features of the day will include a petting zoo, fishing and tables from different community businesses.