It has been asked, but still not answered with a date. Will there be budget workshops in Newtown Township?
This question was asked at a previous Board of Supervisors meeting and Township Manager Mike Trio answered, “Yes." Yet, here is November 8th, and no budget workshops have been scheduled. It is worrisome that the township has not yet held or provided any preliminary budget information. Newtown Township taxpayers have no idea whether or not and how much their township taxes will increase next year. Delaware County is already forecasting a 2.8 percent tax increase for taxpayers in the county’s preliminary budget.
What percentage will Newtown propose? We currently have no idea. This, after the Board of Supervisors recently voted to add a Public Works Director to the township payroll at a cost not to exceed $72,000. They seem comfortable to be adding to the payroll, but can’t seem to provide up-to-date revenue and expense information. They seem comfortable with leaving taxpayers to wonder if Police Chief Anderson is currently still on paid Administrative Leave. They seem comfortable spending taxpayer money, but can’t seem to keep the public up-to-date as to what this means to the overall township budget.
The law requires Second Class Townships to adopt a balanced budget by no later than December 31st of each year for the next year. This preliminary budget must be advertised for public review for at least 20 days. How could the Board of Supervisors adopt a balanced budget if it hasn’t taken the time to review and understand what is being proposed by township departments? Of course, meetings and discussions would have to be held, and according to the Sunshine Act, all meetings of the Board of Supervisors where a quorum is present are required to be open to the public.
In other townships, and previously in Newtown, the township manager has held a number of budget workshops. At these workshops, the manager will deliver a proposed or ‘draft’ budget to the Board. These workshops provide the taxpaying public an opportunity to understand and comment on where their money is spent. In other townships, this has already been accomplished. Not so in Newtown.
Newtown can’t even seem to keep the revenue and expense information that was promised to be updated current on its website. If a taxpayer were to go the main page of the township website today, they would see year-to-date revenues and expenditures for the quarter ending June 30, 2012, first. This is followed by the bills for October 22, 2012, and then Revenue and Expenditure information as of March 31, 2012.
Further down the main page, the Management Letter for last year’s township audit is noted on the same line as financial information from the Municipal Authority audit. Who knows where the finances of Newtown stand? At the very least, taxpayers should be able to see the state of revenue and expenses as of September 30, 2012. That, and budget workshops would provide Newtown residents a view of current management decisions.
Hopefully, at next week’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, the dates for budget workshops will be set. If they are not set next week, we are left to wonder and wait for a possible December significant tax increase surprise.