FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 12, 2002


On motion of Phil Vance, seconded by Allen Fidler and approved by all members present minutes of the meeting held on February 12, 2002 were approved as presented.


The regular meeting of the Capital Planning Committee was held on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 in the meeting room of the Newtown Township Municipal Building.

Members present were Supervisor/Chairman Richard Weaver; Allen R. Fidler, III; Finance Director Elaine M. Gibbs; Richard Fusco; Phil Vance and Township Manager Bob Pellegrino. Excused were members Phil Newmuis and Robert Dieterle.

Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order at 8:30 A.M.

Approval of Minutes

On motion of member Fusco, seconded by member Fidler and approved by all members present, minutes of the December 11, 2001 meeting were approved as presented.

New Business

A brief discussion centered on presentations of Department Heads as budget preparations and/or reviews are made during the year 2002.

A discussion centered on the name-change from Capital Planning to Financial Planning:

Chairman Weaver explained that the Board of Supervisors indicated the Financial Planning Committee emphasis might be directed toward capital expenses, future revenue and sources of income to the budget, and the financial development of departmental budgets. Member Fusco stated the original purpose of the Committee was Capital Planning matters.

Chairman Weaver stated he would investigate, with Ms. Gibbs help, a mission statement which might further indicate direction.

Member Fidler noted that originally a FIMTAF (task force) had been developed to include department heads, Supervisors and members of the public to review and develop budgets and after a 2-year program the outcome was a Capital Planning Committee, among other developments in the financial area of responsibility.

He stated that capital planning grew out of that process. Perhaps a charter would define certain responsibilities..... which would not include "Micro-managing" the budget/township.

Members concluded that the Board of Supervisors should determine if a Financial Management Task Force might be re-developed.

Township Manager Pellegrino stated that the Committee should look at:

            Financial Plans
            Debt
            Management of Debt
            Long-range Financial Planning Matters

He applauded Finance Director Gibbs over-sight as she has developed the finance department and over-sight of the various departments in the township.

He stated he and Ms. Gibbs would develop financial progress reports as well as a 5 - 10 year projection report for the Financial Planning Committee to review. The review would include capital projects compared to expenditures anticipated for same and a projection of the work compared to income throughout the departments. They would also review funding sources as they reviewed the debt service program.

He noted there are Traffic Improvements and Recreation Department improvements budgeted for in the 2002 Budget.

There had been $400,000. budgeted in the 2001 budget for the improvement of the Public Works Garage at a location to the south of the present garage and a renovation of the present garage to a storage facility. Presently, staff is reviewing this plan and a site plan is being developed.

Mr. Fidler cautioned about approving any building plans without first making very certain that the Township was adhering to its' own code requirements for impervious surface ratios. The Township would require additional open space acquisition if it exceeds the present impervious surface amounts in planning new building spaces in order to not violate the Ordinance.

The Board of Supervisors will make major decisions about the progress of the concepts as well as payment possibilities. Township Manager Pellegrino stated the 2002 Board of Supervisors has some fresh ideas and will be shared as appropriate.

Ms. Gibbs described the payroll accounting process to the Financial Planning Committee. GASBY 34 is a new financial reporting program. She plans to set up a new set of books which will include: assets, appreciation of assets, etc., since this program is advised to acquire a good bond rating for the township.

Ms. Gibbs will begin in April to schedule Departmental presentations to the Committee.

Sycamore Street Project

Chairman Weaver reviewed the progress of the Sycamore Street renovations. On-going dialogue is in process to determine if PaDOT will make direct payment to contractors or is the Township will pay invoices and submit for re-imbursement, which would seriously impact the General Fund monies.

Acme Market Site

Chairman Weaver led a brief discussion on the Acme Market Site usage, costs and insurance coverage. Presently, the building is used for storage of recycling bins and Emergency Services Department will store materials there, as well. Premiums may be reduced due to frequent in-and-out activity of employees.

Note: concerns of some residents about storage of vehicles on site which are involved in work of Sycamore Street, but feeling were that this site is preferable to areas along street which would be in front of residences therefore undesirable. It is a temporary use.

Mr. Fidler asked Supervisors to consider: Is the Acme site a municipal asset?.... probably not. Re-use of the property is the only benefit to township. Possible suggestion: return the property to the Acme Markets, Inc., or the property owner.

Review of Park & Recreation Properties

Chairman Weaver reviewed and reported on:
            Clark Property....use of the property would require a widening of the entrance driveway. Additional maintenance is needed on the house and grounds
            as soon as possible.

            Roberts Ridge.... Estimates and plans are being reviewed for the installation of an interior trail, a gazebo and playground equipment.

            Hidden Lake.... Bucks County officials have been in dialogue with Township about access and restrictions to the dam area.

            Silver Lake Park.... the entrance and parking areas are under consideration for preparatory work.

Questions were asked by members: the designation of funds for the Wiggins Property?

How will the Debt Service Funds be used in planning for future use of properties acquired for recreational use by residents of the township?

Old Business

The Newtown Fire Association will request, by a referendum on the November ballot, an increase in millage to cover anticipated costs related to maintenance of vehicles and building maintenance costs. Solicitor Harris is presently preparing a Resolution in this matter. The NFA will be responsible for the public relations throughout the township to promote adoption of the referendum. Should the matter be "turned down" by Township residents, a second plan for receipt of necessary funding must be in place.

Member Vance noted: would the NFA be assisted financially to the fullest satisfaction with this action, or find a need to return with additional requests for assistance later on?

Discussion followed on the $10 (nuisance) tax in the business sector: it generates about $70,000. annually and costs little to collect, but is aggravating to business management who must submit this amount for each employee, full or part time. Employees who are full-time, part-time or who only remain on the job for a brief period (seasonal) require the same amount and detail work for an employer, regardless of employment period.

Lockheed Martin tax revenue, or lack of revenue for a given period of time was discussed. What might happen when the incentives allowed by the County Commissioners and Township officials agreement have expired? Might Lockheed Martin leave the Township?

Questions were asked about the building in the Industrial Commons which has been vacated due to the (Russia) money-laundering legal case? The Township is holding an escrow account. Ms. Gibbs was asked to inquire of the Trustee of the Corporation, and Solicitor Harris, to determine the potential and/or disposition of the Escrow Account.

Suggestion: title of this present Financial Planning Committee could become "Long Range & Capital Planning Committee".

Mr. Fidler and Mr. Fusco will be unable to attend the March 12, 2002 meeting as they will be out of town.

Upon motion, the meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted: __________________________
                                              Ethel K. Hibbs