Newtown Township Board of Supervisors
Special Work Session – 2002 Budget Hearing
October 1, 2001
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting November 24, 2001. BUDGET MEETING OF 10/1/01: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 10/1/01 budget meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Present: Steve Sanderlin, Chairman; Scott Harp, Secretary/Treasurer; Dick Weaver; Tom Harwood, Interim Township Manager; Bob Pellegrino, Incoming Township Manager; Elaine Gibbs, Finance Director.
Department Heads/Presenters: Martin C. Duffy, Chief of Police; Jean Tanner; Steve Harris, Solicitor; Don Harris, Director of Emergency Services; Ron Weaver, Jr., Technology Manager.
Mr. Weaver moved to appoint Bob Dieterle to the vacancy on the Planning Commission. Mr. Harp seconded; the motion carried unanimously.
Attached to these minutes are the agenda of the meeting and presentations given by each department head.
Mr. Harp called the meeting to order at 6:13 pm.
Mr. Harwood gave the Budget Message, noting the following:
§ The real estate tax will increase for the tenth consecutive year; assessed valuation has increased.
§ There will be no increase in personnel above December 2001 levels, except for the addition of one permanent Municipal Services secretary in the Codes office and one part time custodian.
Mr. Harwood reviewed the goals and priorities for 2002, and said that the administration will look to grants and outsourcing as opportunities to stretch performance without adding cost. For the upcoming year, the administration recommended continuing municipal payments for fire hydrants and municipal streetlights; these two items save each taxpayer more than $75 in township fees. Also recommended is a continued aggressive road maintenance program.
The township has adopted GASB 34, which requires some changes to the township’s financial statements; the year-end statements will look different. Compliance cost is likely to be $15,000 - $20,000 annually. In 2002, revenue will increase only slightly; no new taxes are proposed. General fund revenue will come 60% from Earned Income Tax and 40% from transfers, fees and charges, grants and contracts. The Recreation Fund receives income from the 2-mil park tax and recreation fees, and projects a high percentage of cost recovery.
Concluding, Mr. Harwood said that the budget outlook for 2002 is good. Future sources of revenue will be necessary to continue paying for operating and very limited, low-cost capital expenses in the future. It is anticipated that Commercial/Industrial development will provide these tax revenues.
Chief Duffy noted that the 2000 census puts the residential population in our municipality at 18,206, and said he was proud of the department’s accomplishments and procedures in regards to highway safety. The police have been very proactive and diligent in the monitoring of underage drinking and sobriety checkpoints, arresting more than 150 people as of September 17, 2001 for liquor law violations. In response to citizen concern, the department has utilized traffic details to help monitor speed and safety on township roads.
Chief Duffy noted that the Board of Supervisors has assisted the department in obtaining scales and other equipment necessary to help the police deal with truck safety. Additional police officers have received certification as Weigh Masters and Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program Inspectors.
In the past year the board funded the Portable Low-Speed-Weigh-in-Motion Scale, for faster and efficient weighing of trucks. This is an excellent Screening device, which can produce a printout if needed; Newtown is the only police department in the county besides Fallsington that has this portable scale. Chief Duffy said they had received the four Wheel Load Scales budgeted in 2001, and he has requested a fourth scale, costing approximately $8000, in this year’s budget.
Chief Duffy said that Mobile Data Computers are in patrol cars, a result of a grant that Jean Tanner successfully pursued. These computers enable officers to check the status of cars and drivers; they hope to receive additional funding. Chief Duffy thanked Ron Weaver for his assistance and knowledge of the technology.
Chief Duffy reviewed funding sources. He said that funding for the school resource officer at the high school will run out in August 2002, and suggested that the school department should fund this service if other funding is discontinued. The new high school, opening in fall 2002, will be applying for a school resource officer as well. He noted the department’s continuing successful programs: Youth Aid Panel; D.A.R.E.; and the Bike Patrol, used extensively this year.
Chief Duffy said that the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association has received a federal grant to institute an accreditation program, greatly reducing the cost to the township. Ms. Tanner has been named Accreditation Manager for the department. Approximately 90% of the standards have been met. The total cost is approximately $5000, including printing of manuals.
Chief Duffy said that he has added money to the department’s budget request in the chance that they receive authorization to use radar. He thanked the board for its support in providing the department with needed resources and equipment, in particular with the replacement of handguns. He complimented all of the officers, and noted that Officer Sigafoos has been activated in the Reserves.
Noting the board’s recognition of the need for attorneys with specialized knowledge to serve in various situations, Mr. Harris described his staff and the functions of the township solicitor. He noted the following in regard to fees:
In conclusion, Mr. Harris said he doesn’t see a significant change in the role of the solicitor in 2002, and sees no reason why legal costs would exceed the budgeted amounts. If special situations arise, they will advise the board and quote costs for particular projects, if requested.
Mr. Sanderlin thanked Mr. Harris and his staff for their steady, sound advice and timely completion of documents and tasks.
Mr. Harris said that many residents are unaware that the emergency department has paid firefighters, EMT’s and inspectors; they are available 6:00 am – 6:00 pm. He said that they are working quite well with the Newtown Fire Association and the Ambulance Squad. Mr. Harris reviewed the annual statistics, noting that the department’s diligence in fire lane enforcement has been effective.
In 2001 an incident reporting program was developed in Microsoft Access for all fire and EMS incidents. In 2002, the department plans to develop an inspection program that will link with the Fire Incident Reporting System currently being utilized.
Mr. Harris said that the Emergency Services Department was awarded two FEMA Firefighters Grants:
The township was required to match $8,000 for both grants. These grants will help the department to meet the NFPA’s firefighter safety requirements.
The department is requesting an increase of $2000 for additional equipment and supplies, including: portable radio holders, additional portable oxygen cylinders, suction unit, portable generator, and miscellaneous supplies. This increase will enable the department to maintain its own equipment and bring that equipment up to today’s standards. Mr. Harris is also requesting a $2700 increase to the communication line item of the budget for 2002, to cover the increased routine maintenance cost of communications equipment. As well, a requested $4500 budget increase will continue the goal to have the entire department accredited, through Personal Development Training and/or certification.
The Fire Station expects to start renovation work of Station 55 in 2002, which will include a combination Training Room/Emergency Operation Center that will house the radios for Emergency Management Operations. The capital expense of $16,000 for these radios has been presented to the Capital Planning Committee.
Mr. Sanderlin asked about emergency preparations plans for the township. Mr. Harris said that Newtown is a member of the Community Alert System (CAN), which includes a system of notification through the township’s phone system. There are also evacuation plans in place.
Mr. Harp complimented the department’s cooperation with other organizations, and praised Mr. Harris for his work in procuring of $80,000 in grant money for the township.
Ron Weaver reviewed the responsibilities of the Technology Department. He reported that Beth Leone continues to work with the staff, especially new staff, to utilize the computers and programs effectively. The phone and voicemail system was upgraded successfully this year, coming in under budget.
Mr. Weaver said that the 2002 budget includes broadcast services of live BOS meetings, maintenance contracts for finance, police and computer, hardware and software, including the replacement of 1/3 of the workstations per year. A new tape backup is needed for next year for the web servers; the budget will need to be adjusted upwards.
Mr. Weaver said he is waiting to hear from Penn DOT, to see if they would be willing to add pre-emption to the Bypass signals. A sound activated system was tested and proved to be insufficient. Strobe lights are now being tested on vehicles for the signal pre-emption system.
Mr. Weaver asked the community and supervisors to relay any suggestions for the website to the Technology Department. He said that Mr. Sanderlin would be working pro bono on getting the codified ordinances onto the web site.
Mr. Bob Conway asked if there could be line items listing salaries separately; Ms. Gibbs said she would check into a line item sheet for the police department.
Mr. Weaver moved to adjourn the meeting. Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 7:40 pm.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Leslie Dunleavy, Recording Secretary 11/15/01