John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Supervisors Vote to "Hang" 2022 Preliminary Budget

At the November 10, 2021, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, supervisors approved the "hanging" (i.e., advertising to the public) of the 2022 Preliminary Budget, which is a revision of the Manager's recommended budget.

The main difference between the Preliminary Budget and the recommended budget is the elimination of a new 1.5 Mill real estate tax dedicated to the Fire Protection Fund. Instead, the Preliminary Budget allocates $350,000 from the General Fund to the Fire Fund. This will result in a lower General Fund reserve; i.e., $1,284,055 (8.6% of expenditures).

Historically, Newtown has strived to maintain a reserve of at least 10% of expenditures. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends that local governments maintain a fund balance equal to two months of expenditures, equivalent to approximately 17% of General Fund operating expenditures. In 2020, Newtown Twp's reserve was $2.8 million (23% of expenditures). In 2021, the reserve is estimated to be $3.0 million (also 23% of expenditures).

The following is a 15-minute video snippet of the discussion leading up to the vote. 

At the October 15, 2018, 2019 draft budget presentation meeting, the Township Manager talked about the dwindling township reserve fund and the potential impact on the Town's bond rating prospects. View a video clip from that presentation and see chart below.

Reserve Fund as Percent of Expenditures. For "ESI Projections" see
Slide 25 in the ESI 5-Year Financial Plan.
Cuts Can Still Be Made 

There’s enough “fat” in this budget that can be cut without reducing the reserve fund to a dangerously low level. Possible cuts include:

  1. Eliminate hiring new Deputy Fire Chief (?)
  2. Eliminate purchase of new finance/codes software – we need to learn more about the options, wait for new Finance Director to weigh in
  3. Eliminate purchasing new Fire Chief Vehicle (see above)
  4. Hire 2 new police officers rather than 3 as proposed
  5. Reduce purchasing of police vehicles from 3 to 2
  6. Eliminate police facilities study – we’re not ready for this yet
  7. Eliminate purchase of police body cameras*

See November 10, 2021, Bills List, Page 5: PLATELOGIQ for POLICE VEHICLE CAMERAS: $ 8,400.00. If we have vehicle cameras, why also body cameras? Also, before committing to spend this money, perhaps the township should first apply for a Department of Justice grant. This is what Doylestown did five years ago.

 

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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