West Goshen Township legal fees on the rise!

West Goshen Township legal fees on the rise!

West Goshen Township’s legal fees on the rise? This may be due to a lack of transparency, along with the probability that the township is not forthcoming with information. It may also stem from the inability of taxpayers getting their questions answered without a fight.

First and foremost, it does not cost the township anything to answer questions other than time. Second, when they don’t answer questions, citizens are then tasked with filing a Right-To-Know (RTK) request with the RTK Officer for the municipal body. For West Goshen Township the RTK Officer is the township manager Mr. Casey LaLonde.

As of late, the township has been requiring citizens to file RTK requests for any information they are seeking. This does not always need to happen when the township is open with its citizens. However, the township is entitled to its procedural rules.

After a request is filed the RTK Officer is then required by law to turn over documents as long as they meet certain legal parameters under the RTK Law. All requests are met with three rules to be answered. They are-

Granted – Which does not require an answer and the information is simply provided to the requester.
Denied – The information sought is not available/doesn’t exist or does not meet the legal standards for release.
Granted in part / Denied in part – Meaning that some of the information is allowed to be turned over, while some parts are either not available or are not permitted to be seen by the public like an employee’s social security number.

There are many things like communications, financial statements, bank records of taxpayer money, forms, documents, etc. that fall under the RTK Law guidelines. But now comes the clarifying part. When the RTK Officer refuses to give the information, or provides some or none of the requested information the citizen is now able to file an appeal with the RTK office in Harrisburg. This would require the RTK Officer to engage the township’s solicitor which in turn raises costs for taxpayers.

West Goshen’s RTK Officer regularly engages with the township solicitor in RTK requests from the beginning of the process as well. This creates a financial need to the township for solicitor fees to be paid for simple RTK requests.

It is not the citizens fault, nor should the citizen be blamed, for simply asking for information to answer questions they may have for the township. It is the right of every West Goshen resident and/or PA resident to ask questions of our elected officials to hold them accountable to the taxpayer. YOU!

To alleviate the financial burden to the municipality the board should simply require, no demand, the RTK Officer give the information to the citizens. This is your money! This is your government! This is your township!

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