“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.” These are indeed extraordinary times with many businesses forced to close and millions of people out of work due the measures necessary to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. And municipalities like Newtown Township that depend upon business and job related taxes face financial difficulties if the shutdown continues and people do not get their jobs back.
It is unknown to what degree the COVID-19 shutdown will affect the Township's finances. Obviously, Earned Income Tax (EIT) Definition will likely take a hit due to the temporary or permanent closure of businesses [see "UPDATE on EIT" below]. Real Estate Transfer Tax Definition will also likely be, or become, compromised as people brace for a potential financial impact.
In addition, charges for public safety (permits) may decline if building and construction drop off, and the township's Parks & Recreation programming revenue stream may be significantly less if the township has to cancel summer camps.
These are major sources of revenue that fund the day-to-day operation of the Township as well as projects such repaving roads, which has been cut back to save money [read "2020 Road Program Falls Victim to COVID-19"].
Also, Keystone Collections, which manages municipal and school tax administration, collects local EIT Taxes. Keystone extended the Individual filing deadlines to match the State and Federal date of July 15, 2020. This delay in collecting EIT will also negatively impact Newtown Township’s ability to carry out needed services.
Meet Mack Monday, April 20, 2020, on Facebook
In this Facebook Live session I discussed: diversion of tax funds from road repair to cover the general expenses of the township (salaries, consultant fees, supplies, etc.), what Newtown Township can do to help local businesses, and the next step in getting approval to alter the Newtown area zoning code to allow for a Wawa or Wawa-like convenience store to be located in Newtown, Wrightstown, and/or Upper Makefield.
Given that many Newtown Township residents and non-residents who work in Newtown may be laid off for weeks, if not months, it is likely that Newtown will take a hit on EIT revenue in 2020 [see "UPDATE on EIT" below]. How much of a hit is uncertain at this time [see UPDATE below]. But as little as a 10% reduction in EIT (see chart) could mean bad news regarding the township’s fund balance and consequent bond rating.
In April, 2020, the 1.0 mill real estate tax slated to be used to borrow money to repave more than 5 miles of roads in 2020 was "re-allocated" to cover General Fund expenses - a drastic move in anticipation of an Earned Income Tax revenue shortfall of 8-11% due to the COVID-19 shutdown of local businesses. That shortfall, however, never materialized. According to Keystone Collections, which collects EIT, comparing earned income tax collections for 1/1/20 – 8/31/20 vs 1/1/19 – 8/31/19, Newtown Township specifically is up about $258,000.00 or 4.8%.Read More...
Posted on 10 Apr 2020, 01:38 - Category: COVID-19
In March 2020, I spent only 36 hours on official Supervisor business as COVID-19 forced the Township to cancel all meetings. Little did I know how prescient were my remarks a few weeks ago when I noted that March was coming in like a lion for us Supervisors and hoped it would go out like a lamb! [Read "February 2020: Another Busy Month! Marathon Toll Bros Hearing, LQBTQ+ Youth Get No Love, more...".] Compare that to an average of 63.5 hours per month for January and February - a 43% decline!
Log of Hours Spent on Official Business
My log keeps track of the time spent on the following:
- Attending “Required” Meetings
- Preparation for BOS Meetings
- Attending Optional Meetings/Activities
- Interaction with Residents
- Travel To & From Meetings
In March 2020, I spent 4.6 hours attending required BOS meetings and 5.9 hours attending "optional" meetings for a total of 10.5 hours.
Obviously, BOS meetings are the most important meetings - I am expected to attend them in order to satisfy my duties as a Supervisor. These include regular twice-per-month public meetings (except in July and August and sometimes in December), and non-public executive sessions. Optional meetings include public work sessions, and special meetings (see the list below).
“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. In March, 2020, I attended meetings of the Joint Zoning Council (JZC Definition) and Environmental Advisory Council.
In March, I spent 10.8 hours preparing for required Board meetings. This includes downloading and reviewing documents, including the Bills List (invoices paid by the Township), minutes of previous meetings, and police report.
Interaction with Residents
In my opinion, personal interaction with residents regarding their concerns is an important part of my responsibilities as Supervisor. I want to be sure that I spend enough time reaching out to and responding to residents via personal contact, official email via my email@example.com account and via my personal firstname.lastname@example.org account, and via phone and/or Facebook.
In March 2020, I spent 4.8 hours (13% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents. What did I discuss with residents? Here’s a partial list (some items are not included for confidentiality reasons):
- Revised Love is Love Day Resolution (read "Newtown Township Passes Revised Love is Love Resolution")
- Toll Bros proposed development (read "Residents Urge Newtown Supervisors to Abide by Spirit of Conservation Management Zoning Ordinance")
- Voluntary plastics reduction program
- Hoarder house in Newtown Crossing
I decided to keep track of my activities as a Supervisor on a monthly basis partly because I want to be accountable to residents, but also to make sure I am making the best use of my time. It's really an honor to serve the community! I learn something new every day and have met many fine people and volunteers who also put in a lot of time without any compensation at all. Thanks to everyone who help keep Newtown in business and safe.Read More...
Posted on 04 Apr 2020, 01:16 - Category: COVID-19