FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
TUESDAY OCTOBER 22, 2004
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes of the meeting held on October 22, 2004 were duly approved with member Fidler abstaining due to absence at that meeting.
The regular meeting of the Newtown Township Financial Planning Commission met on Friday, October 22, 2004 in the meeting room of the Township Municipal Building.
Members present were Anne Goren, Ryan O'Keefe, Elaine Gibbs, Phil Vance, Township Manager Bob Pellegrino and Assistant to the Manager John O'Boyle.
Chairman Goren called the meeting to order at 8 A. M., thanking members for changing the meeting schedule from Tuesday to today (Friday) due to a seminar attended by Manager Pellegrino and herself on Tuesday, October 19th.
A hand-out was given to members present detailing Slots in Penna., a re-print from the Philadelphia Inquirer and a copy of the completed Township audit for the 2003 year. The Audit, 2003 report included GASB 34 information and all Township Funds statements.
On motion of member Vance, seconded by Chairman Goren and approved by all members present, minutes of the previous meeting were approved as presented.
Copies of the proposed budget for the year 2005 had been mailed to members earlier and Manager Pellegrino reviewed the same. He noted that transfer taxes had increased which was expected to do so until the year 2007 due to construction of residential and commercial projects in process or scheduled to begin in the near future.
He indicated that the Earned Income Tax would be reducing as near-by municipalities would adopt the Tax. Manager Pellegrino explained that expenses are largely driven by the present union contracts which apply to Uniformed Police Officers; Non-union employees and the Emergency Service Contracts, Health benefits increase at a rapid rate annually.
Manager Pellegrino suggested that an appropriate measure would be for the millage increase to be raised gradually, which would impact residents on a gradual basis.
Member O'Keefe suggested conservatism, noting the suggestion in the Proposed Budget to move one mill of tax from the Debt Service Fund to the Park & Recreation Fund to cover a proposed short-fall which necessitated a $17,000. (+ or -) from the General Fund to the P & R Fund during 2004 to meet expenditures of the Department.
Member O'Keefe distributed copies of a document he prepared: "Federal Rates/Municipal Rates" of bonds suggesting an 8 million dollar bond could be secured now at a rate of 3.28% for a 10-year period. A brief discussion focused on the debt (mortgage) to the Wiggins Estate which is planned to be completely paid off in 2004.
A brief discussion centered on a proposed 7 million dollar cost for a potentially-proposed new building which would be covered by a contingency and debt service cost totaling 9 million dollars. Mr. O'Keefe will prepare a document showing these costs/expenditures and indicate wisdom in borrowing at the present time and rates for the future use. He had spoken to representatives of The Delta Group who had addressed the Planning Committee earlier and both he and Representative suggested as well as the potential for grant monies if plans are made wisely and in accord with grant requirements.
The Planning Committee would need a commitment from the Board of Supervisors regarding the building program so that design criteria could be explored simultaneously with appropriate financial plans.
Chairman Goren reviewed last year's budget plans and noted how important it is that they be considered this year as well:
- Increase revenue
- Reduce expenses
- Shift revenues
She demonstrated her suggestions of increasing revenue by looking for grants projects (Recreation & the proposed new municipal complex) to maximize the use of money presently held. Market services to adjacent municipalities (conduct their recreation programs, police department i.e., Newtown Borough). Use the Internet to sell out-dated equipment (e-bay) & advertise sales in township newsletter. Advertise rentals on channel 23 (request of Fred Polner to set standards which might apply.)
Suggestions for reducing expenditures: reduce/eliminate non-essential expenditures (donations, televised meetings). Bring some services in-house (televised meetings). Review contracts with service providers (Health-care, Corporate Synergies Co., municipal pool). Recommend zoning changes to promote uses that protect & expand the EIT base (expand high-end, low density houses). Borrow more to pay off current debt & refinance at current lower rates. Advertise in Park & Recreation brochure and Township newsletter.
Shift Revenues: Move money from debt fund to recreation via transferring 1 mill.
Suggestions of Committee members: member Vance suggestions promoting recreational programs at each of the meetings of the Board of Supervisors. A general discussion followed on the present advertising done in the Park & Recreation Department brochures, the Township newsletter and on Channel 23. The secretary was directed to copy an anticipated document to be submitted by member O'Keefe with the minutes of this meeting to all members. Members who were unable to attend were invited to submit suggestions, as well. Member O'Keefe suggested Manager Pellegrino include ideas from Delta Group, Inc., presentation along with his 2005 Budget proposal to the Board of Supervisors.
Chairman Goren reviewed dates during November and December which would provide information about the proposed 2005 budget to the Board of Supervisors and the public viewing audience.
It was decided to cancel meetings of the Financial Planning Committee for the months of November and Decemeber.
There being no further comments, the meeting was duly adjourned.
Ethel K. Hibbs, Secretary