Newtown Township Board of Supervisors
Special Work Session – 2002 Budget Hearing
October 15, 2001
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting November 28, 2001. BUDGET MEETING OF 10/15/01: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 10/15/01 budget meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
PRESENT: Steve Sanderlin, Chairman; Scott Harp, Secretary/Treasurer; Dick Weaver; Raymond “Skip” Goodnoe; Tom Harwood, Interim Township Manager; Bob Pellegrino, Incoming Township Manager; Elaine Gibbs, Finance Director.
DEPARTMENT HEADS/PRESENTERS: William Wert, Parks and Recreation Director; Robert R. Larason, Vice President of Carroll Engineering; James Bowe, Member of the Capital Planning Committee.
Attached to these minutes are the agenda of the meeting and presentations given by each department head.
Mr. Sanderlin called the meeting to order at 6:05 pm.
PARKS & RECREATION
Mr. Wert recognized the Parks & Open Space Committee for their contributions to and support of the Parks and Recreation Department, and said they had a productive year. He said that member Russ Strover secured grant monies that were used to plant the 20 trees native to this area in the Tree Grove at Roberts Ridge Park.
Mr. Wert reviewed developments in Newtown’s park system this year:
§ The addition of the Tree Grove and provision of driveway access and parking facilities at Roberts Ridge Park.
§ The completion of the Newtown Trail.
§ The enhancement of Chandler Fields by the Council Rock Newtown Little League.
Mr. Wert thanked the Recreation Board for their support. He noted the emergence of a Skate Park Task Force, which continues to research and investigate the costs, concerns, pros and cons of building a skate park facility in Newtown Township. He also recognized the dedication, hard work and creativity of his staff.
Mr. Wert reviewed the statistics for recreation over the last year, noting a 19.48% increase in program offerings, a 5% increase in participation, an increase of 22% in income this year – with two months left. He also noted that, as of October 12th, the recreation component of the budget is operating at 106% self-sufficiency. Mr. Wert said next year’s budget targets the recreation component to be 95% self-sufficient.
Mr. Wert reviewed the number of programs offered over the last five years, as well as recreation performance. He noted that 13% of the 411 programs were cancelled due to lack of participation, the lowest cancellation rate since 1997. Mr. Wert said that the number of registrations received increased 5% over last year, and 23% of the 2494 individuals that registered participated in two or more programs offered the Newtown Parks and Recreation. The majority of participation occurs in children’s programs. Mr. Wert reviewed the graph analyzing age distribution, which helped the department learn which age categories were doing well and which age categories needed improvement. Mr. Wert reviewed income by recreation division, with summer camps representing 46% of the program receipts. He estimated that program receipts this year would total approximately $290,000.
Mr. Wert recognized the work of the Ad Hoc Community Center Committee, and summarized the committee’s recommendations:
§ Assume the lease on the Acme building on Sycamore Street;
§ Appoint a new committee to commence with establishing the community center, and
a permanent community center be deemed appropriate, the site should be on the
21 acres along Wrights Road across from the Newtown
Mr. Sanderlin asked Mr. Wert about capital expenses. Mr. Wert replied that the cost for backstop improvements were greater than expected and the line item was adjusted to reflect the difference.
Committee member Jim Bowe gave some background, and noted challenges the committee faces:
Mr. Bowe said that, due to the factors above, the General Fund could no longer fund large capital improvement projects. He said that the supervisors would need to consider some options: drop or postpone some capital improvement projects, rearrange capital project timing, seek a new bond issue, or raise millage. These options would address the possible cash flow difficulty with the Sycamore Street project and the ability to go forward with the Municipal Complex project. Mr. Bowe reviewed the list of projects for 2002, noting which projects remain unfunded.
He reviewed options suggested by the committee for the funding of the unfounded projects:
Mr. Goodnoe asked if the township should or should not consider long range funding to cover short term cash flow problems. Mr. Harwood said that this could avoid the need for a bridge loan. Mr. Goodnoe questioned whether there was a consensus concerning the municipal complex expansion; Mr. Bowe said that the committee was just offering options to fund that project. Mr. Goodnoe said he didn’t feel there was a consensus on the board supporting the municipal complex project, and said he didn’t want the township to go further into debt. Mr. Harp said that the issue would need to be discussed further, and that opinions might change.
Mr. Bowe said that if the township were to build a community center on its own, a millage increase might be necessary. Mr. Goodnoe felt this statement was premature. Mr. Sanderlin said that by stretching debt over twenty years, keeping the payments the same, some additional funding sources could be gained. Mr. Bowe said that a number of scenarios were possible and that the committee had put forth one.
On behalf of the committee, Mr. Bowe thanked Mr. Harwood and Ms. Gibbs for their assistance in the preparation of the budget report.
Mr. Larason reviewed the services to the township performed by Carroll Engineering:
Mr. Larason said that the engineers help implement what the township decides to fund.
Mr. Larason noted that their services are funded through the general fund, recreation fund, special project funds, and traffic and municipal impact funds. He reviewed the projects for 2001, including Walnut & Swamp Intersection improvements, Roberts Ridge Subdivision, accident reconstruction plan, township mapping, ISTEA trail, brake retarder study, assistance to the Planning Commission with the 2001 TIP, the environmental investigations at the Acme and Wrights Road properties. They also helped to select the engineer for the Swamp Road discussions and investigations.
Mr. Larason reviewed the project completions planned for 2002:
§ Linton Hill Culvert
§ Wrights & Durham signal
§ Hemlock & Stoopville pedestrian crossing (submitted for PennDOT permit)
§ Hanover & Richboro Roads crosswalk signal (submitted for PennDOT permit)
§ Richboro Road Trail – from Tyler to the school district
§ Construction management – Sycamore Street project, Bypass closed loop system, Buck & Richboro intersections with the Bypass, completion of the design for Roberts Ridge Basin
§ Impact Fee/CIP studies, Capital Improvement Plan
New projects planned for 2002 included: Twining Bridge drainage and shoulder improvements, township complex improvements, construction management for the Washington Crossing/Linton Hill signal and the Newtown central business district signal coordination, Newtown Trail #2 study, and additional township mapping.
Mr. Goodnoe asked how sophisticated the township’s GIS system is; Mr. Larason said that it is very sophisticated, and that they need someone to do data input.
Mr. Harwood reviewed the responsibilities of the department. He said that the township took back 7 miles of roads in 2001, bringing the total number of roads to be serviced for snow and ice removal to 72 miles. An additional ½ mile of road from New Haven will be added for maintenance to the Liquid Fuels funding; the 3.5-mile Newtown Trail will be an additional maintenance responsibility. Liquid fuel funds should total approximately $300,000 in 2002.
Mr. Harwood noted a major staff loss this year, Lou Melchiondo, Supervisor of Roads and Public Facilities for five years; his direction and experience will be missed. Mr. Harwood described the responsibilities for the township grounds, with 133 acres requiring weekly mowing in the summer months. A cost for an additional maintenance person has been incorporated into the 2002 budget. The 2002 budget will be relatively unchanged.
Mr. Harwood described the Code Enforcement Department’s services to the community, which include processing and monitoring building, zoning and land development controls, as well as informational services to the community. The township’s efforts to create and maintain constructive lines of communication has resulted in increased requests for service from residents, usually related to code enforcement. This is expected to increase. Twenty-four application and permit forms are available on the township’s website; this has facilitated the permit process.
Due to the increased demand for services, additional temporary staff were added to Codes; Mr. Harwood said he would like to see this additional staff become permanent. Two new municipal secretaries were appointed this year, along with a temporary assistant.
Mr. Harwood said he expects code enforcement in 2002 to focus on development issues. The township should expect a consistent flow of variance appeals, impervious surface relief, and pressure towards converting older residential neighborhoods to commercial development and uses. The increased demands for services have resulted in a slowdown of application processing. Housing the department continues to be a concern; workspace remains an ongoing problem and a temporary building is proposed for immediate occupancy next year.
Mr. Harwood said that the board would receive a final, marked up version of the budget at the November 14, 2001 meeting, which will be hung by the board at that time. He noted that the emphasis in 2001 was on productivity and customer service in all departments, and accurate staff and enthusiastic services to people. He said that the administration maintains an on-going and open dialogue with the organized labor units. He noted that there had been almost a 100% turnover in staff, which provides an opportunity for training new people effectively.
Ms. Gibbs detailed the many responsibilities of the Finance Department, calling the department the nucleus of the township operations. She described the process for ordering, and said that the township’s policy is Best Price for the Best Service.
Ms. Gibbs noted that three of the four office staff have accounting education, and they have freed Elaine to attend to capital issues. Ms. Gibbs said that the township has had difficulty storing and locating documents, and she is investigating two electronic imaging systems that would provide storage and retention of those records that are regulated by State Law. GASB 34 will require new financial reporting requirements in 2004; funding will be requested in the future. GIS will be helpful in analyzing the township’s infrastructure, a key piece of the GASB 34 reporting. Ms. Gibbs described the budget preparation process.
Mr. Harwood said they have proposed continued support of street light and hydrant expenses by the General Fund, costing the average taxpayer about $75 a year. They also propose housing the Codes Office in a temporary building alongside the existing Codes Building. Mr. Harwood noted that the Zoning Hearing Board has a budgeted increase in the solicitor’s line item for 2002. He said that the HARB’s project of the awarding of historic date plaques to historic structures would be continued with the 2002 budget. Mr. Harwood said that the Business Development Council had completed their Resident Packet and township map projects this year.
Mr. Harwood noted that the township receives approximately $200,000 per year from the state to supplement their pension contributions to both the Uniformed and Non-uniformed defined benefit plans. Mr. Harwood said that this year’s budget is $30,000 for the education incentive program
In Interfund Transfers, Mr. Harwood said that they are supporting bond payments with $200,000 of general funds, and are proposing another installment of $80,000 for the expansion of Station 55. He reported that the township’s strong relationship with the fire company and their expertise has resulted in a fire rating of 5 across the community.
Mr. Harwood said that in the Impact fund in 2002 the principal activity is the payment of debt from prior open space purchases and financing of selected capital items: traffic signals at Washington Crossing & Linton Hill Road and Jefferson & Sycamore Streets, and the Newtown Bypass pre-empt system.
Mr. Harwood summarized the township’s generation of income:
1) Real Estate taxes of ten mils, which go to the special funds, park maintenance, fire, rescue and debt.
2) Fees, services and charges are almost 40% of the township’s income.
3) About 60% of the township’s revenue is from the ½ of 1% earned income tax.
Mr. Harwood noted that the percentages in #2 and #3 above are usual.
Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 7:30 pm.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Leslie Dunleavy, Recording Secretary 11/15/01