While there has been much written about the fiscal cliff nationally, last night the Board of Supervisors seemed all too happy to go over it on behalf of Newtown’s taxpayers. The supervisors approved hiring George Sharretts at a salary of $70,000. They also hired Larry Fischer as a part time employee at $40 per hour for two days a week until the end of the year.
In the case of Mr. Sharretts, the cost to taxpayers will be much more as the full benefits package will add significantly to the overall cost to hire him. That’s right, where most employees are responsible to pay some portion of their medical costs, Mr. Sharetts–along with other township employees and some supervisors–have their insurance premium and their deductible paid by the taxpayers. In addition, Mr. Sharretts will have 14 paid holidays, vacation time as well as other benefits.
In Mr. Fischer’s case as a 1099 employee, he will not receive benefits. He will, however, receive $40 per hour to help Township Manager Mike Trio get a preliminary budget accomplished. Last year, Mr. Trio hired Kathleen McGeary at $55,000 per year with full benefits and indicated that she would be responsible for the budget. When I asked why he needed to hire Larry when Kathleen was responsible, Mr. Trio appeared to change her job responsibilities.
The supervisors spent this additional money while continuing to pay Chief Anderson’s salary while they have him remaining on Administrative Leave. Newtown Township has no preliminary budget and no idea how much taxes will be raised and, yet, there seems to be no limit to how much the township manager and the township supervisors are willing to spend.
Why did they decide to add to the financial burden of the taxpayers? Mr. Sharretts was hired as the Public Works Director. In addition, Mr. Trio indicated that Mr. Sharretts would also act as an assistant to the township manager. Seems when George Clement was the assistant manager, Mr. Trio indicated that the position was not needed and subsequently eliminated the position along with Mr. Clement’s job.
Mr. Trio has now hired Mr. Sharretts as the public works director and assistant to the manager. Manager Trio advertised the pubic works position months ago with no indicator of other assistant to the manager responsibilities noted in the ad. He never filled the position. When it was advertised, did Mr. Sharretts actually apply for the position? Mr. Sharretts’ previous employer was the Archdiocese of Philadelphia where he was the director of general services. He appears to have no public works experience nor the advertised requisite education for the public works director’s job. How did he become the best hire for the job?
Mr. Fischer, as a member and treasurer of the Municipal Authority Board, voted to accept the township’s demand that the Municipal Authority agree to accept as Municial Authority debt bills that the township paid. After I pointed out that some of the bills had already been paid by those responsible for them, Larry admitted that he was wrong and had not had time to check if these bills had already been paid. Mr. Fischer is still the treasurer for the Municipal Authority and is now back as an employee of the township to help prepare the budget. How does Mr. Fischer’s hire not create a conflict of interest?
On Monday, November 26, 2012, at 10 a.m. at the township building, Mr. Trio will auction off Newtown Township’s Wyola School House. He will be selling township history to pay Mr. Sharett and Mr. Fischer’s salary among other expenses. The minimum bid is $250,000.
That same night, November 26, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the township building, the township will finally hold a budget workshop where Manager Trio and Larry Fischer will present next year’s proposed budget.
Please consider attending and holding township officials accountable to the taxpayers. Otherwise, the significant tax increase that appears to be likely will certainly become reality.