NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes for the meeting held on July 24, 2012
The Newtown Township Financial Planning Committee met on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at the Newtown Township Administration Building.
Members present were Joe Barkley, Warren Dallas, Robert Daries and Rick Fuerman. Excused were Scott Rosenberg and Brian Wilson.
Also present were Supervisor Ryan Gallagher, Kurt Ferguson, Township Manager and Elaine Gibbs, Finance Director.
CALL TO ORDER:
Mr. Barkley called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M.
MINUTES OF JUNE 26, 2012:
Mr. Dallas made a motion to approve the minutes from June 26, 2012 as presented. The motion was seconded by Mr. Barkley and passed unanimously (4-0).
Mr. Barkley updated the members on his discussions with the prior Township Manager, Joseph Czajkowski with regards to the expectations of the Committee. He noted that the Committee is appointed by the Supervisors and that it has no legal structure. The Committee’s goal is to provide advice and assistance to the Supervisors and Township staff. He requested the members to introduce themselves.
INTRODUCTION OF MEMBERS AND OTHERS PRESENT:
Mr. Daries reported that he currently works for Merrell Lynch and has worked in finance for approximately twenty years. He grew up in Maine and has resided in the Township for the past ten years.
Mr. Dallas stated that he is employed by the U.S. Department of the Navy. He was born and raised in Newtown. He is involved in the Fire Association and is the president of Newtown Place’s Home Owners Association.
Mr. Fuerman advised that he is employed by Transamerica Retirement Services and had been a resident of Newtown for four years.
Mr. Barkley reported that he is a retired executive and has been a resident for thirty-two years. He is a former member of the Planning Commission and the Council Rock School Board. He was on the original Financial Planning Committee. He is currently teaching at Holy Family College.
Mrs. Flaherty advised that she has been a recording secretary for the Township since 2001. She resides in Langhorne and has two daughters.
Mr. Ferguson stated that he is originally from Meadville, Pennsylvania. He went to school in Pittsburg and has a masters in urban and regional planning. He has worked for various municipalities and is happy to be working in Newtown. He currently resides in Warminster, but would like to purchase a home in the Township.
OTHER BUSINESS CONTINUED:
Mr. Ferguson commented on the Committee’s role and advised that he wants to be a presence at the meetings. He feels that department heads should not be presenting capital budget requests to the Committee that should be done by him. He noted that the Township is in tight financial times. He is looking not to waste anyone’s time. He noted the departments’ priorities may not be the Township’s. He wants to automate the purchasing process. He discussed the use of short term financing and stagger purchases. He views this group as a sounding board. Going forward the departments will present the capital requests to him and he will present them to the Committee.
Mr. Barkley commented on the Committee not having a charter. He feels that the Supervisors make financial management decisions in a vacuum. He discussed the MuniCast system being a forecasting tool and noted that the Committee has been working to put together a forecast. He wants Mr. Ferguson to contact the Committee if he has any questions.
Supervisor Gallagher noted that the original concept of creating this Committee was to get the residents’ opinion with regards to financial matters.
Mr. Ferguson commented with regards to the budget challenges today and in the future and how to bridge the gaps.
Mr. Barkley discussed the Committee’s review of the Township’s accounting program AMS and the recommendation to leave the matter of possibly going with another accounting software alone for at least two years.
Mr. Dallas questioned if Mr. Ferguson has used forecasting software in the past. Mr. Ferguson reported that he has not and advised on the types of analysis he has done.
Mr. Dallas inquired on how far out he normally budgets. Mr. Ferguson advised that he budgets out two years and with regards to capital budgeting he looks ahead five years.
Mr. Barkley invited Mr. Ferguson to attend the Committee’s meetings and advised that he would be contacting him to schedule a meeting.
Mr. Barkley requested the members’ to report on their homework assignments given at the last meeting. He updated the members on his meeting with Mark Klein and Rob Reinhart from Council Rock School District. Items discussed included the District’s budget and Earned Income Tax. It was advised that the District’s primary source of revenue is from Real Estate Taxes, that a review of facilities will be conducted to see if any schools can be closed and that two elementary schools will be expanded. It was noted that the student population is expanding. Mr. Ferguson and Supervisor Gallagher reported on the proposed expansion for Goodnoe Elementary. The members discussed turnover in neighborhoods, contractions in the student population, the effects from the economy and the effects from teacher retirement. Mr. Ferguson reported that the District will be appearing before the Planning Commission to discuss changes to the plan for Goodnoe Elementary. Mr. Barkley reported that the District is willing to share information with the Township and that Mr. Klein will be meeting with Mr. Ferguson. He also noted that he has not heard anything back from Aria.
Mr. Fuerman discussed his assignment regarding building permits and dwelling units. He advised that he is waiting for information from Martin Vogt, Zoning Officer.
The members discussed the plans for the Newtown Swim Club.
Mr. Fuerman commented on an article in the paper with regards to the sewers. Mr. Ferguson advised on the upcoming meeting with the DEP and the Township Solicitor and noted that Newtown Township is not in violation.
Mr. Fuerman commented on the Township’s population turnover. Mr. Ferguson reported that he would talk with Mr. Vogt regarding the information that the Committee is looking for. He also discussed the ability for the Township to generate reports detailing the information that the Committee is looking for.
Mr. Barkley advised that the Committee has not seen any economic database.
Mr. Barkley inquired on what information Mr. Dallas has gathered with regards to population. Mr. Dallas reported on the data not being new. Mr. Ferguson advised on his access to census information and that he will have Mrs. Kivenko forward the information to Mr. Dallas.
Mr. Barkley commented on an article in the Bucks County Courier Times regarding aging population. He questioned if there is a correlation between the growth of the EIT and unemployment rate.
Mr. Dallas commented on the population and the level of detail.
Mr. Daries commented on the Township’s pension discount rate. Mr. Ferguson advised on his recent meeting with the Pension Manager and on the distribution of funds. 70% of the funds are in equities. The actuarial assumption on the pension funds is 7 ½%. He discussed the Township’s three pension funds and advised that currently the Police contribute 5%, the Fire Department contribute 2% which will be increased to 4% over the next couple of years and the non-uniform employees contribute 0%. He reported that the Township is setting aside 7-10% of gross wages depending upon the group. He can provide that information to the Committee. Mr. Barkley requested that information be provided to Mr. Daries and Mr. Fuerman.
Mr. Barkley commented on teaching financial model building and building the answer form first. He also inquired on what the Township wants to do with the MuniCast system.
Mr. Daries commented that input is needed on the direction that the Township is going to be entered into MuniCast.
Mr. Ferguson inquired on the output/value of the information being inputted.
Mr. Dallas inquired if MuniCast will be able to help predict revenue from Real Estate Tax and Earned Income Tax.
Mr. Ferguson requested a copy of the MuniCast file and advised the members on his wife’s background in finance and that he would have her review the information.
The members discussed what is accessible for the user to change.
Mr. Daries reported that currently the information is being updated by Mr. Swanson.
Mr. Barkley agreed that it is a good idea for Mr. Ferguson to review the file.
The members discussed getting a copy of the file to Mr. Ferguson. Mr. Daries advised that he could send the file to Mr. Ferguson. Mr. Barkley reported that he will follow up with Mr. Ferguson.
(Supervisor Gallagher excused himself from the meeting.)
The members suggested that Mr. Ferguson touch base with Chris Swanson at MuniCast once he has had a chance to review the file. Mr. Ferguson inquired if there would be a charge for that. The members advised that there would not be any charge due to the fact that the system has not been implemented. Mr. Barkley also noted that it was Supervisor Mike Gallagher who originally looked into MuniCast.
The members discussed choosing economic indicators.
Mr. Barkley reported that the Committee would like to get to the point where they have some feel for a forecast from MuniCast that is useful to look at the budget in some context. He questioned if Mr. Ferguson has a schedule for reviewing the 2013 Budget. Mr. Ferguson advised that he likes to start preparing the budget around March 1st for presentation to the Supervisors by October 15 th.
Mr. Barkley discussed inputting the 2013 Budget information into MuniCast and forecasting out five years. He advised the members that at the August meeting he would like to actually look at the system. Mr. Ferguson reported that could be arranged.
Mr. Barkley reviewed the members’ assignments to be completed prior to the August meeting. Mr. Daries will forward the MuniCast system information to Mr. Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson will forward census information to Mr. Dallas and pension information to Mr. Daries. Mr. Dallas will forward the road analysis to Mr. Ferguson.
Mr. Barkley advised Mr. Ferguson that last year the Committee began creating an operational forecast for the current year. He noted that for $500 AMS can write a monthly financial management summary. He commented on how the report could benefit the Township. Mr. Ferguson discussed municipal budgets and the Treasurer’s Report. He noted that he would like to see Mr. Barkley’s report.
Work on First Draft of MuniCast Forecast
Mr. Barkley advised that the Committee would begin working on the MuniCast forecast at the August meeting.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR:
Ms. Gibbs advised the members that there will be an audit presentation on August 8, 2012. Mr. Ferguson reported that the audit runs from 7/1 to 6/30 and that Keystone must do a yearly audit.
There being no further business the meeting was duly adjourned at 9:00 P.M.
The next meeting is scheduled for August 28, 2012 at 7:30 P.M. and will be held in the main meeting room.