NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE

100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940

Internet: http://www.twp.newtown.pa.us

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Minutes for the meeting held on May 21, 2009

 

The regular meeting of the Newtown Township Financial Planning Committee met on Thursday, May 21, 2009 in the meeting room at the Newtown Township Municipal Building .

Members present were Glenn Beasley, Robert Dieterle, Ronald Kaizar, Tom Grace, John Stranford, Matt Benchener, Jim McCrane, Elaine Gibbs and Mike Gallagher. Excused were Andy Salvucci and Brian Wilson.

CALL TO ORDER:

Mr. Beasley called the meeting to order at 7:20 P.M.

MINUTES OF APRIL 16, 2009:

Mr. Kaizar moved to approve the minutes from April 16, 2009. The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously with one member abstaining (5-0-1).

(Mr. Stranford arrived after the minutes were approved.)

Mr. Beasley advised that there were changes to tonight’s agenda to include an update with regards to the meeting with Mr. Czajkowski, Mr. McCrane and himself, a discussion with regards to Earned Income Tax and that there would be no update with regards to MuniCast due to Mr. Wilson’s absence.

NEW BUSINESS:

Mr. Beasley reported on the meeting with Mr. Czajkowski, Mr. McCrane and himself with regards to how the Committee is working. He advised that Mr. Czajkowski feels that the Committee is heading in the right direction. There was also discussion with regards to Mr. Czajkowski attending the meetings and Mr. Czajkowski advised that he would begin attending the meetings, but he would be unable to attend every meeting.

Discuss Earned Income Tax

The Committee discussed the Earned Income Tax with regards to how it operates and where the Township stands.

Ms. Gibbs reported on the spreadsheet she keeps with regards to increased revenue. She advised that normally the money received in January, February and March are residents paying their December Earned Income Tax. She discussed the report that the Township receives from Berkheimer with regards to resident and non-resident collection and on her conversation with Jim Hunt at Berkheimer with regards to the amount received from non-residents. The majority of the funds were contributed from Lockheed Martin. She commented on past discussions that the Committee has had with regards to employees in the financial market receiving bonuses and suggested that bonuses were given.

Mr. McCrane commented on employees earning bonuses in 2007 being paid in 2008 and not having to pay taxes until 2009.

The members discussed 2008 bonuses received in 2009 and not seeing that income in 2010.

The members discussed trends with regards to taxes being paid and the most recent trend suggest that people are not paying a lot of their taxes at this time.

Ms. Gibbs commented with regards to what the Township has received so far this year for the Transfer Tax.

The members discussed the current economy, bonuses being delayed, reduced or stopped altogether and job layoffs.

Mr. McCrane commented on the past meeting with the Supervisors with regards to the Township’s income from taxes.

Mr. Stranford questioned if a data sheet is available showing the other large employers in the Township. Ms. Gibbs advised that information has been available in the past.

Mr. Grace suggested concentrating on corporate payers by dollar.

Ms. Gibbs reported that she could get a compact disc with the information for 2008.

Mr. McCrane suggested that the members continue to look at the trends.

The members discussed tax payments being delayed and a reduction in the Township’s revenue.

The members discussed if there was a way to crosscheck that people are not under reporting. Ms. Gibbs reported on the quarterly reports that she receives from Berkheimer.

The members discussed how employers collect Earned Income Tax and residents who work out of the state paying their taxes.

Mr. Kaizar requested a copy of the Township’s contract with Berkheimer. Ms. Gibbs advised that the contract was signed years ago and that she would look into getting him a copy for review.

The members discussed if there was anyway to verify that people are reporting the correct income.

The members discussed how Berkheimer collects taxes. Ms. Gibbs suggested having a meeting with Mr. Hunt.

Mr. Benchener suggested that under reporting would not effect the trend line.

Ms. Gibbs commented that starting next year the County might be collecting taxes due to changes in the law. Mr. Gallagher reported that a committee would be formed in September from representatives of fifty-five municipalities and thirteen school districts to decide who will be the tax collector countywide.

The members discussed the fee that Berkheimer receives. Ms. Gibbs advised that Berkheimer’s fee is 1.9% of the funds collected.

Ms. Gibbs reported that the contract with Berkheimer is from 1994. Mr. McCrane commented with regards to the Township revenues expanding and questioned if we should be in a different tax bracket.

Mr. Grace commented with regards to the number of bills sent out compared to the number of payees; he suggested reviewing the top twenty-five payers with regards to yearly income.

The members questioned Berkheimer’s ability to audit.

The members discussed the taxes collected in the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of last year.

The members discussed top earners in the Township.

Ms. Gibbs requested the members to email her their questions and advised that she would work on getting answers.

The members agreed that their goal should be to confirm if there is a problem and develop a solution to help plan for the future.

The members agreed that the Township’s contract with Berkheimer needs to be reviewed. Mr. Beasley requested that Mr. Kaizar be provided a copy of the contract for review.

Mr. Beasley suggested that the members deal directly with Township’ contact at Berkheimer. It was agreed that Mr. McCrane, Mr. Grace and Mr. Gallagher would talk off line to discuss early indicators.

The members discussed the 1980’s with regards to taxes and trends.

Mr. Beasley suggested having a meeting with the representative from Berkheimer in about three weeks. Ms. Gibbs advised that she would provide the name and telephone number for the Berkheimer contact.

Mr. Beasley reported on the members’ goals before the June meeting.

  • Mr. Kaizar would review the Berkheimer contract.
  • Mr. McCrane, Mr. Grace and Mr. Gallagher would meet with Jim Hunt from Berkheimer. The members would provide that group with their questions/concerns.

Mr. Gallagher commented on the Berkheimer contract being reviewed for future negotiations.

The members agreed not to mention negotiations to the Berkheimer representative and that this Committee is only an advisory to the Supervisors.

Mr. Beasley discussed the issues with regards to people not paying or incorrectly reporting their income and advised that would be the Committee’s second priority. He suggested discussing the Committee’s concerns with the representative from Berkheimer. He discussed the Committee developing the basic knowledge and then determining what to do.

The members discussed the possibility of health benefits being taxed.

OLD BUSINESS:

Update from Mr. Grace regarding variance reporting

Mr. Grace updated the members on his review of the budget with regards to variance reporting; he advised on the issues he is having with the program, that there are eighteen subcategories and requested help from Ms. Gibbs. He also advised that there are fifteen to seventeen potential variances and requested Mr. Gallagher to re-run the data.

The members agreed that it is premature to discuss the report in detail at this time or to make a presentation to the Supervisors.

The members agreed that when the report is ready for presentation to the Supervisors, they would be provided information referencing the various categories that the Committee recommends to be questioned.

Mr. Grace advised that the report should be ready for discussion at the June meeting and that he would forward a copy of the report to the members prior to the meeting. He suggested that there could be a presentation for the Supervisors’ July 8, 2009 meeting.

Mr. Grace advised that the report for the first six months of the year should be ready by the end of July. Mr. Beasley questioned if it was possible to have that data for the Committee’s July meeting and suggested making a presentation to the Supervisors in August.

Mr. Grace reported that he has some questions for Ms. Gibbs and that he would be in touch with her.

Update from Mr. Dieterle regarding the monthly construction report and the expected increases in expenses for the new complex

Mr. Dieterle updated the members on the information that he has received from Ms. Gibbs with regards to his review of the monthly construction report and meeting minutes.

The members discussed the monthly construction report not being very detailed and suggested that Mr. Dieterle meet with Mr. Czajkowski to discuss the report.

Mr. Gallagher advised that he believes that the project is behind by twelve days.

The members discussed receiving a more detailed construction report. Mr. Dieterle advised that he would contact Mr. Czajkowski to discuss the Committee’s concerns with regards to the monthly report.

Mr. Beasley suggested that Mr. Dieterle provide Mr. Czajkowski with a copy of a detailed construction report. Mr. Dieterle advised that he would do that.

Ms. Gibbs reported that the Township is receiving invoices for the project and that the invoices are very detailed.

Mr. Dieterle reported that he would continue to review the monthly construction report and the meeting minutes.

Mr. Dieterle reported on his contact with Ms. Gibbs regarding the expected increases in expenses for the new Municipal Complex and his request for her to provide him with various bills from 2008.

The members discussed the square footage of the various buildings. Mr. Dieterle advised that he needs that information for his calculations.

Mr. Beasley advised that the Committee’s goal is to alert the Township if there is a problem.

The members discussed Mr. Czajkowski contacting the contractor to request the information that the Committee wants.

Mr. Dieterle advised that he would have an update at the June meeting.

Update from Mr. Kaizar regarding vendor cost savings

Mr. Kaizar updated the members on his review with regards to possible costs savings. He reported on discussions with Mr. Czajkowski with regards to arranging a meeting with DVHIT to discuss various insurances (worker’s compensation, property & liability, employee health).

Mr. McCrane reported that he is still trying to meeting with Mr. Schenkman to discuss pensions.

Ms. Gibbs reported that there was a Pension Committee meeting earlier this week.

The members discussed the work being done by Merrill Lynch and what they charge.

Mr. Benchener commented with regards to the fees charged by Vanguard.

Mr. Gallagher suggested for Mr. Benchener to contact Merrill Lynch to discuss the services being provided to the Township and the fee being charged.

Mr. Gallagher invited the Committee members to attend the next Pension Committee meeting. Ms. Gibbs reported that the meetings are scheduled for the day and are normally at the end of a quarter. The next meeting would probably be in August.

The members agreed that with regards to vendor cost savings the Committee should focus on healthcare and pensions. A meeting with DVHIT would be scheduled. Mr. Benchener would contact Merrill Lynch. Mr. McCrane will attend the Pension Committee meeting in August.

Mr. Gallagher reported on the Township’s cost savings with regards to the cell phone and internet providers.

Update from Mr. Benchener, Mr. Stranford, Mr. Salvucci & Mr. Beasley regarding enhanced revenues

Mr. Benchener updated the members on his research with regards to enhancing revenue. He advised on discussions with the Jean Tanner regarding the Rural Law Enforcement Grant and with Chris Ortwein regarding the Elm Street Grant.

Mr. Beasley updated the members with regards to energy saving and applying for grants. He reported on a meeting he attended with Mr. Czajkowski, a representative from The Stone House Group and Mr. Linske where the LEEDS certification was discussed. He advised that Mr. Czajkowski is trying to set up a meeting with Representative Santarsiero and Senator McIlhinney to discuss potential sources of funds. He advised that Representative Santarsiero’s office has agreed to help the Township write grants.

The members discussed the Township using wind power as an energy source. Mr. Gallagher advised that the Township is looking into using wind power and on an upcoming wind test to be conduct at the Municipal Complex.

The members discussed the response Mr. Benchener received from the Police Department and Ms. Ortwein with regards to the availability of grants.

Mr. Gallagher agreed to touch base with Mr. Benchener with regards to Merrill Lynch (Mike Leone), Ms. Tanner and Ms. Ortwein.

Mr. Stranford advised that he has nothing to update with regards to the private sector and that he should have an update at the June meeting.

Mr. Gallagher commented with regards to the Committee developing ideas for enhancing revenue. Mr. Stranford suggested looking into grants. Ms. Gibbs advised that the Township is not eligible to enact a Hotel Tax.

Mr. Grace reported that he would research available grants.

Ms. Gibbs reported on grant money that the Township has received and on correspondence received regarding grants that may be available with regards to going green. She advised that she would pass that information on to Mr. Czajkowski.

The members discussed what the Township has done to entice businesses to come to Newtown.

Mr. Beasley summarized why the Committee is looking into enhanced revenues.

The members discussed generating revenue and agreed that at the June meeting they would brainstorm on ways to generate revenue and decrease expenses.

PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR:

Ms. Gibbs reported that this is the time of the year for the Committee to begin reviewing the Departments’ Capital Budget request and that she would try to schedule some of the Departments for the June meeting.

Ms. Gibbs reported that she did receive an email from Chris Swanson from MuniCast and that she would email Mr. Wilson and request him to contact Mr. Swanson.

ADJOURMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:34 P.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for June 18, 2009 at 7:15 P.M. The meeting will be held in the meeting room at the Newtown Township Municipal Building.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Christy Holley, Recording Secretary