So, I received this email and read Patch’s article about the 2013 budget passed by the Newtown Township's Board of Supervisors on December 27th at a 5 p.m. meeting. This action doesn’t seem to reflect any consideration, in my view, of Newtown Township residents during a holiday week, especially since township officials have had months to prepare, present and discuss this budget. Why do they wait until what seems to me to be the last minute and most inconvenient times to hold important meetings and make important decisions?
The following is an email from a concerned resident on Thursday night's meeting:
"Last night we passed the 2013 budget, tax increase was reduced to 2.9%. This is a good compromise to keep the increase as low as possible and still provide adequate funding to effectively operate the township. We do expect that when some of the approved development (Liseter formerly Ashford for example) is built, that new tax revenue will enable us to minimize increases in the forseeable future. Now that the township is back on sound financial footing, the board can fully focus on sewers and possible revision of zoning. Of course, both issues are complex and not everyone will be satisfied. The sewer issue is extremely difficult; we have folks who desperately want sewers, others with new septic systems who are adamantly against sewers and many folks in the middle. In order to keep the plan cost efficient, it must include almost everyone. Quite a challenge!”
Seems Newtown Township’s supervisors or someone speaking about the actions of the Newtown supervisors having finally passed a budget at almost the last possible date available, are suggesting that a 2.9% increase reflects a good compromise. I certainly don’t see it their way.
And, I think having township’s expenses grow to almost $8 million dollars in 2013 without increased services to Newtown taxpayers could scarcely be seen as sound financial management. How is the township now on sound financial footing? And, it wasn’t on sound financial footing previously? Yet, three current supervisors have been on the board quite a few years.
In 2012, taxpayers got to pay significantly to settle with former Police Chief Dennis Anderson. The Board of Supervisors just voted to pay a settlement of $43,000 to former Township Manager Jim Sheldrake. And taxpayers continue to pay annually $44,000 to Aqua (per year for five years total) to settle Aqua’s appeal of the previous Act 537 sewer plan.
All this, and taxpayers are asked to continue to pay for the medical benefits and deductible costs for supervisors. That’s about $80,000 that taxpayers will provide for the medical benefits for supervisors Ross Lambert, John Nawn and George Wood, and their spouses and/or families. To add to this, supervisors allowed the creation of the position of Public Works Director and then hired a candidate without the advertised required education and no municipal experience at a salary of $70,000 plus additional benefits.
So, it seems to me, Newtown Township supervisors’ version of compromise is continued spending, no accountability, and references to the challenge of changing zoning to affect residential neighborhoods as well as years of sewage facilities planning.
This would not be my view of compromise—is it yours?