During public comment at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, resident Marie Richards asked if the Township could begin the process of providing public sewage facilities to some areas of the Township. Rather than offer, that in fact, the Township could complete specific planning modules for a particular area(as was done for Newtown Heights, Ashford and Episcopal and many other areas), it seemed that the Supervisors either don’t understand or are unwilling to provide this as a possibility. Rather than honestly telling residents that there is nothing stopping the Township from going forward with the plan being appealed. And, when resident Mark Wilson commented that the appeals were not limiting the Township's ability to move forward, Joe Catania said, “That’s what’s stopping us from going forward. The money.” And not just any amount of money - 25 million dollars. Because, of course, if you are going to borrow, why not borrow a huge amount and presume that you can manage a huge public works project.
Rather than speak to the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on sewage facilities planning that Township Officials defended and then abandoned, the thousands(and perhaps tens of thousands or more) spent on attorneys’ fees and engineers on the previous plan that the Supervisors approved, fought for and was then rescinded by the Environmental Hearing Board which stated in its adjudication “By overturning the Department’s approval of the 2009 Update, we ensure that an invalid and inaccurate plan will not act as a collateral bar to any future challenges. We also prevent an invalid plan from remaining in place during the time it takes to finalize a new update.”
Rather than talk about the thousands spent on the CR ordinance. Rather than speak to their choice of Local Service Tax Collection Provider that did not succeed in collecting what they could in Local Services Taxes. Rather than speak to their choice of Ambulance Collections provider that did not succeed in collecting what they could in Ambulance reimbursement. Rather than admitting to continuing to authorize spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on attorneys’ fees, rather than working to settle the latest appeals brought by residents, the latest excuse for not bringing public sewage facilities to areas of the Township is due to those appeals. It cannot possibly, it seems, be caused by the Supervisors and Township Manager’s fiscal management and decisions, could it?
How nice it would be if individuals had the benefit of the excuse of just saying that someone else is at fault and they just needed to borrow more money when a bill collector wanted to be paid. How nice it would be if residents had the same ability to claim that they were not to blame for wasting money resulting in not being able to move forward with renovation projects. But, this is what seems to me Newtown Township Officials think is acceptable.
It seems there is plenty of taxpayer money to spend over and over again. Why plan to make good choices and manage responsibly when, it would seem to me, you believe that you are entitled to a limitless amount of taxpayer money to do it over. In the 2014 Township Capital Budget, there is $175,000 that was budgeted for Office Renovations for the Township Manager and Staff.
There is $75,000 in the Capital Budget for 3 new Vehicles. This money alone could be utilized to begin the path forward for sewage facilities while working toward resolution with the Appellants on the issues that are still of concern in the Sewage Facilities Plan.
I wish that Mr. Catania’s was more informative about the choices he and other Township officials have approved rather than choosing to blame others. If Township Officials truly were interested in moving the sewage facilities plan forward, they could. The only thing stopping them, I believe, is their own choices.