NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes for the meeting held on November 17, 2009
The regular meeting of the Newtown Township Financial Planning Committee met on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 in the meeting room at the Newtown Township Fire Hall .
Members present were Jim McCrane, Ronald Kaizar, Tom Grace, Brian Wilson, Elaine Gibbs, Matt Benchener and Mike Gallagher. Excused were Glenn Beasley, Robert Dieterle, John Stranford and Andy Salvucci.
Also present were Supervisor Calabro, Joanne Bintliff-Ritchie and Jay Sensibaugh.
CALL TO ORDER:
Mr. McCrane called the meeting to order at 7:25 P.M.
MINUTES OF OCTOBER 20 2009:
The members reviewed the minutes from October 20, 2009. Mr. McCrane advised that he had two changes. On page two, the sixth sentence from the top of the page should read – Supervisor Benchener reported on the Board’s discussions with Gilmore. On page three, under privilege of the floor, the fifth item should read – The members discussed the need for a more uniformed approach to budgeting by all Departments.
Mr. Kaizar moved to approve the minutes from October 20, 2009, as corrected. The motion was seconded by Mr. Grace and passed unanimously with one member abstaining (3-0-1).
Mrs. Gibbs commented on Supervisor Benchener’s request for an executive summary report on a monthly basis. She advised that is what the Treasurer’s report is. The members advised Mrs. Gibbs on what information that they are looking for (top five to ten items projected over budget). Mr. Grace reported on the meeting with the Township Manager where the request was discussed. Mrs. Gibbs requested the Committee to provide her with further information as to what they are looking for. The members suggested that the report show trends, revenue, expenses and variances.
Supervisor Benchener advised that the Supervisors have the ability to revise the budget at any time of the year. He also commented on the need for the Township to tighten the budget process.
Mrs. Gibbs commented on the demands from the public to spend money. She suggested that the Township verify if there is enough money to cover the request prior to making the commitment. The members discussed the Supervisors reviewing proposals first.
The members discussed the Township’s policies with regards to purchase orders and suggested setting a threshold. Mrs. Gibbs reported on procedures with regards to purchasing. Mr. Grace suggested having a checks and balance system. He feels that the Township should be run like a business. The members agreed that the Supervisors should be encouraged to set a threshold for purchase orders of $1,000.00, anything more would need to be reviewed.
Mrs. Gibbs reported on an option for the budget of moving money from different line items. She advised that would need to be voted on by the Supervisors.
Supervisor Gallagher questioned if the Committee will give a report to the Supervisors before the end of the year. The members present suggested that the report include recommendations with regards to purchase order/budget monitoring and the five-step budget process discussed at the October meeting.
Mrs. Gibbs reported that in prior years the budget was presented to the Supervisors over three meetings and suggested that maybe the Township go back to that process.
Supervisor Benchener suggested that the Township offer incentives to Township staff to save money. The members discussed the pros and cons of what Supervisor Benchener is suggesting, the Township having union and non-union employees, splitting the incentive within a Department, items that can be cut and monitoring the cuts to verify that services aren’t being effected. The members agreed to table this idea at this time, but to discuss the matter further in 2010.
Woll Tract Update
Mr. McCrane refreshed the members on the discussion regarding the Woll Tract that took place at the October 20, 2009 meeting. Supervisor Gallagher reported that the Township Manager approved the change orders and that the Township Solicitor is reviewing the matter. Supervisor Benchener reported that the Township has not received the information requested from Gilmore.
Mr. McCrane advised on his presentation to the Supervisors on October 29, 2008 with regards to his prediction for decreased revenue and an increase in expenses. He questioned if the members had any questions or suggestions with regards to the 2010 budget.
Supervisor Benchener commented on the original budget that the Supervisors received and reported that at the last Supervisors’ meeting some items were reduced for an additional savings.
Supervisor Gallagher and Supervisor Benchener advised that there would probably be further cuts to the proposed budget.
Mr. McCrane commented on nothing being earned in interest this year and the increase in building permits. Supervisor Gallagher reported that the Promenade will be built and that there will be an increase to the permit fees. Mrs. Gibbs advised that the permit information was received from the Codes Department.
Mr. McCrane questioned the Forfeiture Fund. Supervisor Gallagher advised that if the forfeiture funds are not received from the DEA the money will not be spent. Mrs. Gibbs reported on the funds received in 2008.
Mr. McCrane commented on the Recycling Grant increasing by fifty percent. Mrs. Gibbs advised that she received those numbers from Mr. Huff, who does the Township’s submission to the State.
Mr. McCrane commented on the contributions being cut. Supervisor Gallagher advised that the contributions to the Newtown Library, Wrightstown Library, First Fourth and the Newtown Corporation have been reduced.
The members discussed the Clark property. Supervisor Gallagher advised that the Supervisors would be having further discussion regarding the property over the next few months.
Mr. Kaizar commented with regards to the union benefits, the cost of medical benefits, getting competitive bids and the cost employees’ contribute to their medical benefits. The members questioned what the Township is required to supply and what the employees’ pay. The members agreed that the labor contracts need to be reviewed. Mr. Kaizar refreshed the members on meeting with DVHIT. Mrs. Gibbs advised that the labor contract is up in 2011. The members questioned if the Township is buying more than they need to. It was agreed that Mr. Kaizar would review the labor contracts. Mrs. Gibbs will forward the information to Mr. Kaizar for his review.
Mr. Grace commented on the increase to the police pension. Mrs. Gibbs explained the increase; she also discussed the Township’s smoothing of the pension in prior years.
The members discussed the Pension Committee. Mrs. Gibbs advised that she would like Supervisor Benchener to meet the new representative. Supervisor Benchener advised that he can not make a morning meeting and that he would like to schedule an evening meeting with the pension representative. Mrs. Gibbs updated the members on the pension report. Supervisor Gallagher invited the members to attend the Pension Committee meetings.
Mr. Grace questioned the budget with regards to shortfalls and a back out plan. Supervisor Gallagher advised that currently there is no plan and that an option would be to borrow money.
The members discussed the possibility of the Township reducing staff.
Mrs. Gibbs suggested that a possible solution with regards to budget shortfalls would be to raise taxes.
Mr. Grace commented on the overtime budget. Supervisor Gallagher and Mrs. Gibbs advised with regards to overtime.
Mr. McCrane commented on expenses with regard to phone services, contracted services under general administration and technology, Township engineer, police overtime, profession services under code enforcement and the Park and Recreation maintenance salary. Mrs. Gibbs advised on the new telephone system that is being installed in the new Administration Building and that the Township is doing away with some of the copiers. Supervisor Gallagher reported that the Township Assistant Manager is now the Code Enforcement Officer and on the Park and Recreation expenses being consolidated into the General Fund. Supervisor Benchener commented on having a more flexible budget.
Mr. McCrane advised that he feels that 2010 will be worse on revenue side, that he is not convinced of the proposed increases in permit and building revenue and that the Reserve Fund will be depleted.
Mrs. Gibbs commented with regards to the Township repaying bonds and suggested that 2011 would be the real problem.
Mr. McCrane commented on the RCN settlement being used for park and recreation. He feels that money should have been put toward the budget.
Mr. Kaizar commented with regards to promotions within the Police Department. Supervisor Gallagher advised on the discussion between the Supervisors and the Police Chief and that it was decided that matter would be part of the contract renegotiations.
Mr. Grace reported that the members had issues because the request was not presented to this Committee prior to being presented to the Supervisors.
Supervisor Benchener commented on the next Supervisors’ meeting and suggested that the Committee prepare a report for presentation.
Mr. McCrane advised that he would put together a proposal for the members to review with regards to a report to the Supervisors and would provide Mrs. Gibbs with the information that the Committee is looking for on an executive summary.
The members discussed the Supervisors’ December meetings on December 2, 2009 and December 16, 2009.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR:
Mrs. Bintliff-Ritchie commented on the suggestion to offer bonus incentives to staff for saving money. She offered her help or help in finding another party who could.
Mr. McCrane moved to adjourn, the meeting was duly adjourned at 8:54 P.M.
There is no December meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for January 26, 2010 at 7:15 P.M. The members will be notified of the meeting location on the January agenda.
Respectfully submitted by:
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary