Sunshine Week | Going above and beyond to educate the public on an issue vs. doing the minimum

For one week in March each year, media organizations across the nation focus on transparency in government. Known as “Sunshine Week,” this week offers the opportunity to share with our readers the struggles we have faced covering your local governments, when a local government hasn’t been the best at informing the public, and when a local government has gone above and beyond what is required by law in keeping the public informed.

In 2018, Plymouth Township determined it needed to fund renovations or potentially completely replace its township building. To educate the public on this issue, the township held four meetings outside of its normal meeting schedule to review the current condition of the building, options for renovations, and funding options which included potentially selling its sewer system. The presentation was also available online.

In 2018, the Borough of Conshohocken was in a similar place. It developed a major infrastructure plan that would need funding. The proposed plan was presented during one regularly scheduled public meeting and was not made available online until filed a right-to-know in 2021 (three years later).

While the Borough of Conshohocken followed the law, Plymouth Township followed the law and went above and beyond to educate the public on the topic.

There were people opposed to the sale of the sewer system in Plymouth Township, however, there was never an organized group opposed to it as there is in Conshohocken This is likely due to the feeling that they had been included in the process and had had an open line of communication with the township and elected officials. Do people in Conshohocken feel that way?

In the end, Plymouth Township’s Council decided against selling its sewer system to fund the renovations and instead went with a bond.

Conshohocken’s Borough Council could make a decision about its sewer system during its’ Wednesday, March 17th meeting.