Newtown's Preliminary Budget Calls for a 4.5% Increase in Taxes

Newtown's preliminary budget was approved with a 4.5% increase. It could be cut in half if supervisors stopped the practice of having their healthcare costs paid by taxpayers.

At Wednesday night’s budget meeting, Newtown residents finally learned that 2013’s preliminary budget calls for a 4.5% tax increase. This increase would raise about $181,000 in additional revenue. Taxpayers also learned that about half this increase, despite resident’s pleas to end the practice was due to supervisors having the residents of Newtown pay their medical insurance premiums and deductibles. 

In fact, now in addition to John Nawn (who has taxpayers paying for his entire family) as well as George Wood (medical insurance for two), last night Supervisors Vice Chairman Ross Lambert, as he has other than this past year, notified the Board of Supervisors that he wanted again to have the taxpayers pay this cost. 

As a result of this decision, Newtown taxpayers will pay about $77,000 for this benefit. This is about half the tax increase proposed. Newtown is the only local township that has supervisors that have availed themselves of this paid entitlement. No other local township has taxpayers foot the bill for non-employee supervisors’ medical benefits and deductibles. 

What is the benefit to the community of their taking this paid benefit? Nothing! In fact, last week Ross slept through the budget workshop. Last night, he didn’t even attend the meeting. George also was absent from both last week’s budget workshop as well as last night’s meeting. The taxpayers pay for their healthcare costs and they don’t even bother to attend the meeting. They leave the other supervisors to vote to accept this cost on behalf of the taxpayers.

For years, Regi Siberski, an active, intelligent, honest and involved resident has notified the board that their actions in taking medical benefits were illegal. Finally, this year, the township’s solicitor, Rich Sokorai, appeared to agree that the initial process by which supervisors availed themselves of this entitlement was improper. But rather than advise the supervisors that this practice should end, he indicated that since this was many years later, and supervisors continued to put the cost of medical benefits in the budget, it was a properly approved benefit.

Regi vehemently disagrees with Rich’s assessment and continues to fight this battle. The Supervisors continue to defend the use of OPM (other people’s money) to give themselves a benefit which Regi believes they have taken illegally. And, although, now there are three supervisors who will have the taxpayers provide this benefit to them, until this past July, Supervisors Chairman Joe Catania also had taxpayers pay the bill for his family’s healthcare premium and deductibles. Only Ed Partridge has not taken this benefit. And yet, he voted to let the other supervisors take this benefit.

In addition to Regi, both Nate Glazer, another resident, and I commented on this issue and asked the supervisors to stop taking this money from the taxpayers to benefit themselves. You, too, can let the supervisors know that you want them to stop this practice. The three supervisors, Lambert, Nawn and Wood, by revoking their decisions to take medical benefits, would ensure that the tax increase proposed in the preliminary budget would be at least cut in half. 

The final budget will not be accepted until the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on December 27th.  There is still time for these supervisors to do the right thing.  I hope the taxpayers of Newtown let them know that they do not want their taxes to rise to benefit three supervisors.

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Diane December 09, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Can someone explain what these taxes are used for? We just moved to this area and can't believe how insane the taxes are. Additionally, it feels as if Newtown Square is stuck in the past. The McDonalds is falling apart and yet three feet away is Benari jewellers, and the gas prices are the highest in the area. It makes no sense to me. I don't know if there is any truth to this, but this area gives me the feeling as if taxes are so outrageous that only high end businesses can try and survive, and others can barely keep afloat. I mean I have never seen such a rundown McDonalds in an otherwise seemingly high end area. Ok I know I am ranting but I really haven't been able to understand what seems like a lack of new business growth and success in an area that should have some money to spend, and I just wonder if it is all because of the taxes. Oh yes and again, what are the taxes used for? Other than I saw some plants hanging from the street lights in the summer, I don't see any other community expenditures that warrant the taxes.
Diane December 09, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Oh yes and let me add, from what I understand other areas also have high taxes, however in Radnor for example, you get a great school district for your money. What do you get here?
Walt December 09, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Just for the record, residents should have the facts. We actually have very low taxes- one of the lowest millage rates, which our real estate taxes are based on, and no wage tax that other townships impose- please refer to the following tax rate schedule for Delaware County from 2011: http://www.co.delaware.pa.us/treasurer/TaxRate2011.pdf
Patti Wilson December 09, 2012 at 03:11 PM
So Walt, are you saying that you are good with our taxes paying for 3 supervisors' health insurance? You're good with hiring a Public Works Director without the advertised educational credentials necessary and no previous municipal experience costing taxpayers in excess of $100,000 including salary and benefits? You're good with the disrepair and lack of maintenance of roads in the township, the fact that the township provides virtually no resident services that other township's provide(no trash pickup, no debris pickup etc). The issue is not the amount of taxes paid, it is how the taxpayers' money is spent or better said misspent, in my view. You can see by tomorrow night's BOS agenda that they want to move money from the capital account(which is mostly borrowed money) to pay bills. So this is the record you defend!
Patti Wilson December 09, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Diane, I appreciate your asking these questions as I have been asking some of the same questions, too. As it turns out, the plants that were hanging from the street lights were not paid for with tax money. Paul Seligson and the EAC committee who work hard to make Newtown a better place to live sought donations to pay for this beautification. The preliminary budget with the proposed tax increase is now available for review. It shows where township officials plan to spend tax receipts. I've pointed out some of the issues I think are problems. I hope you will review it, too.
Walt December 09, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I'm not defending anything that is not right. I was simply putting forward facts that our taxes are not "insane". If our taxes were high, you're criticism would have more merit.
Diane December 09, 2012 at 03:59 PM
I have lived in the suburbs of now 4 major cities, and yes, the taxes here are insane.
Diane December 09, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Also curious why the road to Ridley creek park has been "out" for over half a year. Sorry don't know it's name, but the bridge has been out since the summer and I guess it looks like its not getting fixed? I just can't understand this township.
Maryanne December 11, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Diane, I think only banks are allowed in Newtown Square. We have one of each! I guess the township feels that Newtown Square residents have A LOT of money?!?!?!?
Maryanne December 11, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I never understood why the townsip pays for healthcare for the board members etc. They are part timers are they? In the real working world, part timers are not offered health insurance. I was told bord members have full time jobs of their own. Don't they receive health care benefits from their full time jobs?
Patti Wilson December 11, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Hi Diane, The Bridge on Gradyville Road, which the township left to deteriorate for years, is now being rebuilt/repaired. The last date projected for his completion is October, 2013. At last night's BOS meeting, it was indicated that another 3-4months beyond that may be needed for the project. That would mean that Gradyville Road will likely be closed in that area until sometime in 2014.
Patti Wilson December 11, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Hi Maryanne, In answer to your question about the Supervisors, they are elected positions, not part-time employees. That being said,it is my understanding that the three supervisors who in 2013 have asked the taxpayers to pay for their healthcare have access to other plans. It is my understanding the Mr. Lambert's wife is a teacher and in 2012 he did not ask Newtown residents to pay his healthcare premiums and deductibles, but that is his request for 2013. Mr. Nawn would be eligible for COBRA benefits and Mr. Wood is medicare eligible. Other healthcare plans would require these supervisors to contribute to the cost. Newtown pays the entire premium cost as well as the deductibles' costs. Supervisors pay nothing--that taxpayers foot the entire bill.


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