FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
TUESDAY JANUARY 20, 2004
Approval of Minutes: On motion of member Fidler, seconded by member Vance and approved by all present, minutes of the meeting held on January 20, 2004 were approved. Members Dieterle and Tirpak abstained due to absence in January.
The Newtown Township Financial Planning Committee met on Tuesday, January 20, 2004 in the meeting room of the Township Municipal Building, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, Pa.
Members present were Allen Fidler, III; Elaine M. Gibbs; Ann Goren; Phil Vance and Sarita Tirpak; Manager Robert Pellegrino and Supervisor Chair Richard Weaver.
Call to Order
Chairman of the Committee for the year 2003, Richard Weaver, called the meeting to order, thanking members for the significant work which they had done during the 2003 year relating to recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
He stated that he has had a discussion with Township Manager Robert Pellegrino regarding plans to expand the mission of the Financial Planning Committee so that a 5-Year Budget might be developed; capital and township-based income would be reflected over that period due to the perception that complete build-out of the Township is an expectation.
He noted that Doylestown Township and Newtown Township are similar in complexity: Doylestown now has many la/business offices along with the County Court House and Newtown Township is seeing an increase of office/business establishments where retail business once flourished. Retail business has become a large part of recently-built shopping centers outside of the Township.
A copy of the Mission Statement, refined during the 2003 year, was distributed to all attendees.
Supervisor Chairman for the 2004 Year, Mr. Weaver, introduced Finance Committee Chair, Ann Goren, for the year 2004.
She noted that tax revenue has slowed in Doylestown Township and other municipalities in the area and should be a serious consideration to watch in Newtown Township. She stated: "Revenue income in the future is a concern".
"Very few other taxes are possibilities to make up the deficit in the long term".
Member Vance noted that it is imperative to keep expenses in line with income.
Member Fidler advised the aging population (base) of Earned Income Tax is eroding, an obvious concern for the future. He noted that these predictions had surfaced in the early 90's with Supervisors then being advised to "keep operations on a level".
Chairman Goren stated that "people who live in high-end homes in the Township do not send their children to Public Schools (Council Rock) and do not, thus, make a drastic impact as has been advised.
Finance Director Gibbs noted she expected a report soon from Earned Income Tax Collections via an accountant at Berkheimer Associates, Inc. He indicated earlier that persons buying/living in the Township were working in New York and/or Philadelphia and their income does not feed into the Township coffers.
The report should be received prior to the February meeting of the Financial Planning Committee.
Supervisor Chairman Weaver turned the Committee work over to Supervisor Goren, whom he promised to support if her work preempted her attending an early morning meeting.
On motion of member Fidler, seconded by member Tirpak and approved by all members present, minutes of the meeting held on October 21, 2003 were approved as presented. Chairman Goren abstained due to absence at this time.
The year 2005 Budget matters will be presented by Department Heads as assigned in a memo developed by Finance Director Gibbs and Township Manager Pellegrino. The schedule will be presented at the Committee meeting on February 17th.
Projections had been presented over a five-year span and will be requested now for a 10-year span.
Chairman Pellegrino will present an Operating Budget as a result of all presentations.
A brief discussion focused on the Earned Income Tax supporting the Budget; moving excess monies into the Capital Expenditure Account as recommended previously and not yet incorporated into the 2003 Budget process. Members agreed that a balanced budget is a primary goal. Some Reserve Funds have been used for Capital Expenses in the recent past.
Finance Director noted that there is no contingency built into the budget to cover emergency items such as severe snow storms.
A discussion on raising taxes raised comments:
The public needs a very good reason for doing this.
Building a new facility would require public discussion.
The public need copies of vital information so that they become correctly informed.
Members Fidler noted that recommendations previously developed by the Financial Planning Committee in February, 2003 were presented and altered by the Board of Supervisors. He suggested notations of what types of emergency expenditures might arise.
Chairman Goren noted several matters relating to the proposed expansion: the size of the proposal could be reduced if technology replaced paper (storage could be reduced), a related article in the Courier Times will be copied to the Committee for personal information.
She requested Manager Pellegrino and Finance Director Gibbs visit Buckingham Township to investigate how they are adapting to new technology. Ms. Gibbs noted with the newly-acquired "imaging system" purchased during 2003, Newtown Township was fast-becoming current in this matter.
Ms. Gibbs stated that some Township records must be kept in perpetuity as hard copies, also that security is a feature of the new system.
Chairman Goren noted that PSATS has an "on-line" chat room for suggestions which generate revenue for building expansion programs.
Several ways in which Newtown Township has enhanced revenue have been Police services to Wrightstown Township and Public Works services to Newtown Borough. Chairman Goren asked members to be prepared to discuss types of zoning which might need analyzing as revenue-generators and/or potential zoning changes.
An additional area might be street light maintenance.
Finance Director Gibbs noted that the 2003 Audit would begin on February 9, 2004.
There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was duly adjourned at 10 A.M.
Ethel K. Hibbs, Secretary