Tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the township building, Newtown Township will hold a Budget Meeting. As the last municipality to communicate budget issues and presumably to let residents know if they will have a tax increase next year, tonight’s meeting will be important. Last week I attended the township’s budget workshop. The only supervisors to attend were Joe Catania, Ed Partridge and Ross Lambert. And, Ross Lambert fell asleep and slept for a good portion of the meeting.
I don’t know whether this means that a quorum was attained or not. While the township officials did go over projected expenses, they did not provide any information about township revenues. They also would not take or answer any questions from the residents that attended. When I asked if I could ask questions, Joe Catania said no but that I would be allowed to ask questions at tonight’s meeting. I’m hoping, unlike last week’s meeting, that Ross Lambert will stay awake to listen and respond along with the other supervisors.
Here are some of the questions I will ask tonight:
- Township officials turned Chief’s Anderson’s claims against the township over to their insurance company. At last week’s meeting, they proposed to increase their legal budget due to Jim Sheldrake’s claims against the township. They indicated that this would go to trial next year and that Rich Sokorai, the township’s solicitor, would handle the case. This means that taxpayers are paying all the costs associated with this claim. Why did Anderson’s claims get turned over to insurance, but township officials have determined to have taxpayers pay to litigate Sheldrake’s claim?
- Kelly & Close Engineers have sent invoices to the township/municipal authority that have yet to be paid. This totals to approximately $150,000. This expense was not mentioned last week. What does the township plan to do about these bills?
- The township borrowed $500,000 to renovate the second floor of the township building for the stated purpose of renting to the District Court. That lease did not materialize but the township borrowed the money anyway. Has the township spent any of this money? If they have, what did they spend it on? And what payment do they have to make against this loan next year? It did not appear as though they put this cost in the expenses provided at the workshop.
- What is the total amount of the debt of Newtown Township? How much does it cost taxpayers every year because of this debt? What is the township’s bond rating? Previously, it was Aa3 with a negative outlook. Is that still the case?
- What is the total amount of revenue that was collected so far in 2012? How much has been spent?
- An expense to provide medical benefits to two of the supervisors next year was announced to be approximately $40,000. Taxpayers have been paying for these supervisors and others medical benefits in previous years. (No other local municipality pays for non-employees supervisors' benefits.) Newtown is the only township where supervisors think that taxpayers should pay for their medical benefits. These supervisors pay nothing including no deductible cost or premium cost. Tonight, I will ask, "Why?" again.
I hope residents will attend tonight and ask their questions too.