Maintaining effective cleaning services within the business corridor is not only our core mission, it is critical to having a safe and clean business corridor. GSSD acknowledges that we have not consistently maintained that level of service over the last few months due to financial constraints brought on by a significant decrease in assessment revenue. We are working with our business and property owners to remedy this situation by continuing conversations with them and by also following the established process in place for recouping outstanding assessments. We have also been working with the Commerce Department of Philadelphia and have been assured of their commitment to and support of the community and to the greater goal of maintaining a clean and safe Germantown. We continue to work hard on all fronts to create a new narrative for Germantown.
We are grateful for your patience during these challenging times. Many of you, knowing the good work that the GSSD has done in the district for the last several years, have reached out in support with concerns and questions. While we cannot address all the misinformation and wild speculation, we can say that we offer sincere apologies for the last few months when the actions of the organization did not reflect our core mission. Please know that like you, we aim for accountability, transparency and representation.
To that end, an emergency Special Board Meeting was held on Friday, January 4, 2019 at our office located at 57 Maplewood Mall, 1st Floor. The purpose of this meeting was to propose and implement action steps to resolve specific organizational challenges. The meeting was well represented and included: Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Commerce Department representatives, property owners, residents and members of the local press.
Specific action steps were presented and included:
▪ The Board passed a unanimous resolution to remove Ingrid Shepard as Board Chair
▪ The Board then moved to appoint Trapeta Mayson, Interim Board Chair
▪ The Board also voted to accept meeting dates for the entire year and publish accordingly
▪ A draft financial summary was presented by Pyramid Accounting Solutions.
The goal of the draft summary was to provide greater clarity and understanding of the organization’s finances and operations. The agenda provided an opportunity for participants to ask and receive answers to questions; and share suggestions related to finances, cleaning, assessments and notifications. Former board president Ingrid Shepard recently stated that she was “unavailable (for several weeks) due to being out of the country for work”. The board had to act in accordance with what needed to be done at a particularly challenging time in the organization’s history, in order to continue the work of the GSSD. Therefore, the board removed her as board president. Since the January 14, 2019 board meeting, Ms. Shepard has provided the organization with access to essential GSSD accounts. In the interim, the organization needed to conduct business, so the board voted to open another account.
Removal of a board member, much like appointing a board member is a process set forth in the PA Municipality Authorities Act that the board must follow. Members can leave a board by resigning or by the board following an established process to remove a member. The GSSD Board is committed to transparency, representation, best practices in board governance and adhering to established processes for municipal authorities. We are working to strengthen our board governance. The board governance committee will be charged with reviewing operations and internal controls in general and will specifically look to update GSSD’s bylaws. A June deadline has been set for bylaws update. We plan to keep the public informed about our progress.
The GSSD will continue to alert business and property owners and community members about scheduled meetings. A schedule of the year’s meeting is listed on the organization’s website. We have provided opportunities to ask questions and give feedback. We have tried to counter rumors and misinformation by being accessible to address questions and concerns as quickly as possible. Despite the financial constraints and leadership challenges, we are managing to clean the avenue twice weekly through our partnership with Friends of Germantown - Northwest, LLC.
In January, we initiated a Nomination Advisory Committee led by a board member and comprised of eight business/property owners and community representatives who will be responsible for identifying business and property owners and community representatives to recommend to the board for nomination consideration. The committee had its first meeting this week and has already developed a great list. While the group indicated that they want business and property owners represented on GSSD’s board, they were adamant that the other voices of Germantown are included and heard. There are several open seats on the board and the GSSD is open to representation from our stakeholders.
The Board will continue to engage the community, business owners and stakeholders for suggestions, volunteers and donations to help the GSSD maintain a clean and vibrant commercial corridor. We welcome your input. We applaud our community of business and property owners who invest in Germantown and keep our commercial district active. We thank the residents of this special place for your passion and commitment to ensuring a clean, safe and beautiful Germantown.
Yours in Partnership,
Interim Board President