The regular meeting of the Newtown Township Financial Planning Committee met on Thursday, September 17, 2009 in the meeting room at the Newtown Township Municipal Building .
Members present were Glenn Beasley, Robert Dieterle, Ronald Kaizar, Tom Grace, John Stranford, Andy Salvucci, Elaine Gibbs, Matt Benchener and Mike Gallagher. Excused were Jim McCrane and Brian Wilson.
Also present was Gary Crossland, Public Works Director.
Mr. Stranford called the meeting to order at 7:25 P.M.
Mr. Stranford commented on Mr. Beasley’s announcement to take a leave of absence and the good job he has done as Chairman. He thanked Mr. Beasley for the good job and hoped that he would be rejoining the Committee soon.
Mr. Dieterle commented on how Mr. Beasley turned the Committee around and the talented members on the Committee.
The members discussed who would be the liaison for the Committee. Mr. Benchener advised that Mr. Gallagher and himself would be co-liaisons to the Committee.
The members discussed the Committee’s Chairman and agreed that Mr. Stranford would become the Acting Chairman for the remainder of the year.
The members reviewed the minutes from August 20, 2009. Mrs. Gibbs advised that she had one correction on page 4, the last paragraph under the Public Works discussion – should reference Mr. Czajkowski not Mr. Crossland. Mr. Stranford advised that his name was misspelled twice in the last paragraph on page 2.
Update from Gary Crossland, Public Works Director
Mr. Kaizar updated Mr. Crossland with regards to the Parks & Recreation Department’s June presentation and advised that the members had several questions with regards to items being requested. He commented on the memorandum received from Ms. Pawlenko, dated August 20, 2009 and advised that it did not answer all of the Committee’s questions.
Mr. Crossland advised that he would first discuss the 2010 Capital request for Public Works and then would try to resolve any questions with regards to the Capital request for Parks & Recreation.
Mr. Crossland referenced his revised schedule from August 20 th for the Department’s Capital Planning proposals.
With regards to the roads, Mr. Crossland advised that paving wise the Department did not push the slurry sealing this year, that he wanted to keep the reserve in the fund and that if everything works out the Township should be able to do double the work next year. He advised that the crack sealing program has started but was delayed due to rain, he reported that he is concentrating mainly in Newtown Crossing. He advised that he is trying to stick to his current paving program by crack sealing Wrights and Linton Hill Roads in 2009. He reported on correspondence received from Newtown Borough with regards to the condition of Frost Lane from Linton Hill Road to the borderline and that he is scheduled to meet with their engineer. He discussed the work being done to curbs and gutters and advised that expense is not covered under the Liquid Fuels Tax. He discussed the sidewalks with regards to the handicap ramps and advised that those cost are covered under the Liquid Fuels Tax. He advised that the 2010 paving program includes Wrights and Linton Hill Road.
With regards to the purchase of new equipment, Mr. Crossland advised on the request for the new antenna and radio frequency for approximately $6,000.00 - $8,000.00. He reported that the current system is inadequate for this area and that it is effecting communications and on the correspondence received from the FCC stating that a higher frequency is needed, which requires changing the radios. He discussed the push to talk phones used by Public Works, Police and Emergency Services and advised that they do not work well. Mr. Kaizar questioned how the radios are purchased. Mr. Crossland advised that the radios are purchased through state bid. The members discussed the cost/lease for the push to talk phones. Mrs. Gibbs advised that the service is through Verizon and that the phones were free, the Township is only paying for the monthly service. The members discussed what the Township’s options are. Mr. Crossland advised that he feels the Township’s best option is to use radios. He reported that he needs to advise the FCC on the Township’s intentions by October 15, 2009. The radios being requested are for Township use, not County. The members discussed contacting Verizon to discuss the problems with regards to the push to talk service and canceling the lease. The cost for 23 radios is approximately $4,000.00. The cost for upgrading/moving the antenna is approximately $3,000.00. There is no cost for the use of the tower or the use of space in the trailer. The total cost to upgrade the Township’s radio system is approximately $15,000.00 (system would be used by Public Works, Police and Emergency Services). If the Township chooses to upgrade the radio system, only Department heads would need mobile phones. Mrs. Gibbs advised that she would email the members information with regards to the push to talk phones and their costs. Mr. Kaizar suggested having the Township’s attorney review the Verizon lease. Mr. Benchener commented on upgrading the phones to a system that works and the cost involved. Mr. Crossland advised that he would prefer upgrading the radios for his department then using the current push to talk phones, but if the Township chooses to upgrade the phones he would try them. He also commented with regards to the phone services going down and using the current radio system as a backup. The members discussed what other Townships are doing. The members discussed phone usage and push to talk in the past years. The members discussed the Township leasing phones for employees and employees paying for phone services. Mr. Crossland advised that his staff would be willing to pay for their phone service.
With regards to purchasing vehicle equipment or park & recreation maintenance equipment, Mr. Crossland advised that there are no requests for 2010. He discussed purchasing a salt brine tanker in 2011.
With regards to buildings and grounds, Mr. Crossland advised that nothing in proposed for the Municipal Complex at this time. He reported on the request for park & recreation buildings and grounds maintenance. With regards to the Clark Nature Preserve, he suggested that the Township run a sewer line from the Woll Tract for approximately $25,000.00 - $30,000.00. He advised on the condition of the current septic tank and that if the Township does not run the sewer line, that the existing septic tank should be upgraded with a 1,000 gallon tank. Mrs. Gibbs advised that currently the house is occupied by the Main Street Manager, that there is no rent but that Ms. Ortwein does pay the utilities. Mr. Crossland advised that if the house were occupied by more than one person, the existing septic system would not be able to handle it. The members discussed the house on the property with regards to renting and agreed that the Township Manager is responsible for leasing the house. Mr. Dieterle questioned if the house can be sold. Mrs. Gibbs advised that the Township owns the property and that the house can not be sold. Mr. Crossland advised that if the sewer line is not installed that the septic system would need to be upgraded for a cost of approximately $25,000.00 - $30,000.00. He advised that if the Township chooses to update the septic system, the Health Department would become involved and dictate the size of the system. He discussed other request for the property including concrete flooring in the barn and advised that the Township is trying to get that done through Community Development Grants. He reported on upgrades to the property being done through Community Development Grants. Mrs. Gibbs reported that the Township has received $60,000.00 from Community Development Grants, that approximately $223,000.00 has been spent on the property and that does not include the cost of Township employees’ work. The members discussed the Township’s legal requirements and agreed that the property needs to be maintained. The Committee discussed their recommendation to the Supervisors with regards to the 2010 Capital Budget and agreed that they are not recommending anything be budgeted for Parks & Recreation. The members discussed the need to upgrade the sewer system and to install the fence by the stream due to the liability issue. Mr. Crossland advised that he could nurse the existing septic system along, but that the painting of the house and garage need to be done in 2010 and that the cost is approximately $30,000.00. The members discussed the painting being done by local civic groups. The members discussed the cost that the Township is incurring to maintain the property. Mrs. Gibbs advised the members that the Township can get grants for maintaining the property and that the Clark property is the only place in the Township that is eligible for Community Development Block Grants. Mr. Grace commented on most grants not being 100% and suggested that the Township do the bare minimum with regards to the Clark property and having the work done by volunteer groups. Mrs. Gibbs reported that the elected officials made the decisions regarding the Clark property. Mr. Stranford suggested that the Township develop a long-term plan for the property. The members agreed that their recommendation to the Supervisors for the Clark property would be to do the bare minimum to keep it safe and functional and develop a long-term plan. Mr. Gallagher advised that there have been discussions by the Board of Supervisors with regards to the Clark property, the donation that the Township makes to the JDNC and requesting a reduction to the amount donated. With regards to Randle Park, Mr. Crossland advised that the work doesn’t have to be done next year. With regards to the playing fields, Mr. Crossland discussed purchasing a portable irrigation system to be used at all Township fields for approximately $3,000.00 - $4,000.00.
Mr. Crossland requested members to review the road maintenance program he provided last year. The members discussed the information provided by Mr. Crossland last year and the importance of maintaining the roads. The members discussed the Township having a road millage. Mrs. Gibbs advised that if a road millage is enacted it would be separate for any other funds and would be dedicated just to roads. She advised that the Township will have to put a millage on to pay for the expansion of the Municipal Complex and that it is her recommendation that if the millage has to be increased to do it all at the same time. The members discussed increasing taxes and alternatives for road maintenance. Mr. Crossland advised on crack sealing and micro surfacing (slurry seal) and how both items increase the life of a roadway. The members discussed educating the residents on micro surfacing. The members agreed that more money needs to be spent on road maintenance.
The member thanked Mr. Crossland for his time.
The members had further discussions with regards to the cost in maintaining the Township roads in the future.
Discuss Department’s Capital Budget presentations
Mr. Dieterle discussed the current economic situation and suggested recommending to the Township that every Department do only the bare minimum.
Mrs. Gibbs reported that the funds used for parks & recreation comes from impact money and that should be considered if the money comes in. The members discussed the funds received from Recreation Impact Fees coming to an end. Mr. Benchener suggested that the Township begin saving money to purchase open space. He would like the Departments to prioritize their needs/requests.
Mr. Benchener suggested that the Committee’s next action step be to draft correspondence to the Department heads requesting them to prioritize their requests. Mr. Stranford advised that he would draft the letter and forward it to Mr. Czajkowski and Mrs. Gibbs.
Mrs. Gibbs reported on the upcoming meeting with the Department heads regarding the Operating Budget and advised that she should have an update for the Committee members at the October meeting.
Mr. Benchener discussed revenue stream budgeting and suggested that the Township look into using that approach.
The members discussed who should be prioritizing the Departments’ Capital Budget requests.
Mrs. Gibbs advised the members on the process of reviewing the Departments’ Capital Budget request in the past and how recommendations were made to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Grace suggested that the Township track the funds requested and received from year to year.
Mr. Gallagher reported that in past years the members of this Committee’s terms were only one (1) year and that the Supervisors increased the length of a member’s term this year. He discussed past Committee’s reviewing the budget requests and reviews in the future.
Mr. Grace suggested that Department heads provide a list of what they need, what it costs, if grant money is involved and what the cost is in relationship to last years actuals. Mrs. Gibbs advised that information is available. Mr. Grace suggested that the Committee formalize the recommendation. Mr. Benchener suggested that the information the Committee would like to see on an excel spreadsheet includes the following: Department requests, possible grant money, requests prioritized, this year verses last year, actuals verses projected.
The members discussed meeting with Mr. Czajkowski regarding developing a standard format for all Department’s budget requests.
The members discussed having a 5 step process as follows:
- Pre-step – develop a form (matrix/spreadsheet) – each item in a priority order (with a rank number), note if it is a must have or want/nice to have, funds spent year to year, if grant eligible (yes/no) or other funding sources and how much funding is available.
- Step 1 – Mr. Czajkowski takes responsibility (has discussions with Department heads advising on how to complete the form). Mrs. Gibbs would be responsible for meeting with the Department heads making sure that they are on track with their numbers.
- Step 2 – Department heads present priority list to the Financial Planning Committee – after discussions the Committee will prioritize the Department’s list.
- Step 3 – Committee prioritizes the compiled Departments’ lists – do all budget projections.
- Step 4 – Board of Supervisors prioritizes the list presented by the Financial Planning Committee.
- Step 5 – Funding stream situation – more discussions by the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Grace suggested adding one item to the pre-step – having an overall look at the budget, where are you this year compared to last year.
Mr. Stranford and Mr. Grace advised that they would work on the matrix to be presented to Mr. Czajkowski.
The members discussed their 5 step process with regards to the budget and this year’s timeline. They agreed that once the matrix is complete the representatives from the Committee will meet with Mr. Czajkowski and then he could meet with the Department heads and at the October meeting the members could review the Departments’ priority list.
The members discussed the Township hiring a CFO.
Discussion/update regarding the monthly construction report and the expected increases in expenses for the new complex
Mr. Dieterle updated the members with regards to his analysis of the expected increases in operating cost for the expansion of the Municipal Complex. He provided information for the members’ review. The members discussed budgeting for additional operating expenses in 2010. Mr. Benchener questioned how the operating costs are paid. Mrs. Gibbs advised that those costs are paid out of the General Fund.
Discussion/update regarding Earned Income Tax
Mrs. Gibbs updated the members with regards to income received from taxes. She reported that the Earned Income Tax is doing well and that Real Estate Transfer Tax is not doing so well. The Township is ahead in their collections by about 5% over last years. Reported on the analysis done by Berkheimer. Mr. Stranford commented on the projection work done by the Committee last year and requested that those projections be pulled for review. Mrs. Gibbs reported that land development revenue is up, 2010 will be a hard year and that permit revenue is down. The members discussed their concerns with regards to revenue in 2010 and requested Mrs. Gibbs to provide the information provided by Mr. McCrane from last year.
Discussion/update regarding variance reporting
Mr. Grace advised that he would give his report at another time.
Discussion/update regarding MuniCast indicators
Mr. Gallagher updated the members with regards to the MuniCast indicators. He advised that he would provide the members a compact disc with the MuniCast information.
Discussion/update regarding possible vendor cost savings
Mr. Kaizar updated the members on the meeting with Delaware Valley Trust. He discussed the Township going out for competitive quotes. He advised that the product is not customized but more of a shelf product (one size fits all). The members discussed the Township going out for competitive bids and who would take responsibility for heading up the effort (preparing the RFP). Mrs. Gibbs advised that DVHIT is a pool of municipalities, you pay to get in and that the Township is getting lower rates since joining. Mr. Gallagher recommended that if the Committee feels that an RFP is necessary that they make that recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
The members discussed having a meeting with the Berkheimer representative, the Berkheimer audit and how to ensure that all earned income is being reported. Mr. Gallagher requested the members to forward their questions to him and that he would discuss them with the representative from Berkheimer.
Discussion/update regarding enhanced revenues
The members agreed to table this matter for discussions at another meeting.
Discuss way to generate revenue and decrease expenses
There were no discussions with regards generating revenue and decreasing expenses.
Mr. Stranford moved to adjourn, the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:55 P.M.
The next meeting is scheduled for October 20, 2009 at 7:15 P.M. The meeting will be held in the meeting room at the Newtown Township Firehouse.