John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
What Residents Would Cut From Proposed 2021 Budget

Many residents are understandably upset about the originally proposed Newtown Township “Manager’s 2021 Budget,” which proposed a 7.99 mill increase in municipal property tax (up from the current 4.5). The budget included many new and increased expenditures for personnel, services, and capital improvements. There are too many to mention here (download a summary of the Manager’s 2021 Budget).  

At the October 28, 2020, meeting, the BOS voted 3-2 to request that Township Manager Micah Lewis come up with an alternative budget that only increases property taxes by 40 percent – a 1.8 mill increase (download a summary of the alternative budget).

Survey Results

The "Budget Cut Survey" asked respondents to select items in the budget they would be willing to cut in order to reduce or eliminate the proposed tax increase. The list of items to cut includes many – but NOT all – of the expenditures in the originally proposed budget. Fifty-seven (N=57) responses have been collected as of 25 Nov 2020. All responses are confidential and no individually identifiable information will be disclosed to third parties. If you haven't already taken my survey, you can TAKE IT NOW.

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township Survey. It’s purpose is solely to inform John Mack, a Newtown Supervisor, of your opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.

Personnel Cuts

Many respondents felt it is not appropriate to increase salaries and add new personnel given the current situation where many people have been furloughed, laid off, or taken pay cuts.

Comments Regarding Personnel
  • “I don't think it's appropriate to continue increasing the tax burden when revenue is down. We should be looking for cuts at this time not spending more.”
  • “All employees should start contributing to their health benefits. If they're not all ready if they are we should raise the amount. If not we should start with 1.5% of their salary going towards their health plan.”
  • “This is an usual year. Limiting raises and a hiring freeze for new positions is responsible economics. Promotions should continue, but not with a back fill. Hopefully it is a 1 year issue allowing for income taxes to come back.”
  • “3% is generous since retries, only got 1.5%, Why not frezze salaries for on year.? Promotion freeze for all employees for one year.”
  • “Replacement of retiring officers should continue to maintain the size of our force. Look to combine Borough and Township officers.”
  • “Limit all salary increases to the rate of inflation for 2020. Hire no one for anything, promote by title only without pay bump, no increase in spending whatsoever except that required contractually or due to extreme emergency.”
  • “We have all had to tighten our belts considerably during the pandemic. The least our township leaders can do is the same. Maybe have a look at Middletown Township’s budget. They don’t seem to have the same problems... Newtown Township Supervisors better realize this is not an inner city location and stop the fear-mongering when it comes to police protection.”

Find more comments from residents here...

Cuts to Services

I was surprised that many respondents were OK with cutting parks & rec and road paving services, but NOT public works services (e.g., fixing potholes). However, a significant percentage did not agree with any of the proposed cuts in services.

Comments Related to Cuts in Services
  • “Since we are in a pandemic the situation should be handled similar to the private sector. Freeze spending and approve funding for mission critical priorities. The board seems to have the belief that the pandemic should their means to grow the tax burden on its constituents.”
  • “In addition think about ways to raise revenue through use fees - eg parking, etc.”
  • “Only maintenance and repair no large projects.”
  • “Look line item by line item keeping only the most essential. Summer programs should be less subsidized and sized to break even or make money instead of paid from taxes when monies are tight.”
  • “One year freeze on expenses for parks, except where necessary for safety.”
  • “Reduce as much spending as possible. All of these things can wait until the economy is on a steady footing.”

Find more comments from residents here...

Cuts Related to Capital Spending

No surprise that so many respondents felt the police building study was not necessary at this time, although that cut saves only $20,000. But every little bit helps!

Comments Related to Capital Spending
  • “I think the township can survive without new vehicles or new anything for a yr or two.”
  • “Not to many years ago essentially the entire Township offices fit into one facility including the police dept offices. Now there's talk of another new police office. Don't see how that can happen.”
  • “Look for low hanging fruit. A lot of little items that get cut will add up to big savings that can be passed along to the Newtown residents by decreasing this ridiculously high increase.”
  • “Technology and cloud virtualization -so technology investments that reduce or automation that reduce cost should be explored.”
  • “Learning the impact of delayed capital purchases for trucks, computers and police cars. Are these truly approaching end of life or can the delay be handled? Pragmatic approach of what is needed not just what is ideal.”
  • “Putting off 1 year will not cause any harm to our community. We are all doing this in our homes and we wish we could purchase these items, but our incomes have gone down.”
  • “Cut everything, lock, stock, and barrel.”

Find more comments from residents here...

General Comments

We all are making sacrifices during these hard times and it only makes sense to freeze all township spending during reduced revenue yrs like this one. The companies I work with are laying off and cutting coast anyway they can not spending more. Revenue will return and sensible spending can continue at that time.

I do not oppose the tax hike. I support the township staff increase and services and understand the need for the increase. I feel that the additional $240 that the 158% increase will cost me is worth the additional positions the township will provide. I feel the residents are still under the impression that increase is imposed on their entire property tax bill as well as their school tax bill and need to be educated.

We are seriously considering buying three new police cars when we are asking for a 178% increase in taxes? Really?

Please...please use some common sense and do not raise taxes.

I cannot believe that increasing the tax rate by 180% is even being considered during these difficult times. Tighten the belt like every other responsible American - think about the tax payer.

What world do these people operate in that they believe it makes sense to increase the tax burden on residents when households are afraid of losing their jobs.

Even originally suggesting a 178% increase is outrageous. No one in this environment should get a 3% increase.

The new proposed tax increase of 178% is totally absurd how is that even possible. That should never ever be allowed is criminally ripping people off. Never heard of such a high high increase. Why is it all of a sudden happening now? At the worst time in wrong !!

Pls do what u can to stop such an unbelievable increase in taxes. So many people are out of work, people are Covid scare. We have to live on a budget and do without, so should local governments.

1) In the proposed budget letter, there was claims stating that township has suffered from lower income tax revenue which leads to shortage of funds and the need to increase tax. However, it was also stated in March, April and May the income tax fell below the projected, which was in fact due to township allowing residents to defer the tax payment until later in the year. And in September the taxes have been historical high. Therefore, there was no evidence to support the assumption that the income taxes will be lower for next year and to justify the increase of property tax. 2. What's the park& recreation budget for 2019, 2020 and 2021? What portion of this is funded by the grant contribution and how much was from the township?

I would ask that those getting the 3% raise forgo that raise for six months. Their salary would reflect the total and future raises would be based off the number corresponding to the full salary increase.

Pay freeze for employees and hiring freeze until Covid is under control and taxpayers are back to work.

Roads need lines and arrows painted - there is already enough police presence here - please halt or slow down the mania for new buildings, businesses, home developments, etc.

People have lost jobs, businesses have been directly effected by COVID. This is not the time for extra spending. It’s time to cut budgets so we can survive!

Similar to those who experience financial issues the township should not continuing with business as usual. Possible capital outlays and increases for salaries, similar to the commercial world, have to be considered not just say taxes increased when the populace is facing an unusually tough year.

As noted I think with the budget crunch the Township is experiences as we all are, needs to eliminate as many expenses or forestall expenditures that can be put off in 2021 so that the effects of the pandemic on ALL needs to be assessed.

Our opposition to this spending is not to say that these things are not important, but 178% increase when our incomes have decreased is a hard pill to swallow. If our healthcare is cut due to Supreme Court Affordable Care Act reversal, I don’t know how we will make ends meet.

This proposed budget is absolute insanity. Democrats already have a reputation for raising taxes, deserved or undeserved. Don't raise taxes and play into the republican narrative. It took a long time to get control of the board and I guarantee you that if taxes are raised, we will lose, and the voters willl have no one to blame but those who vote for it. I have never voted for an R for anything in my life, but if someone runs on the basis of not raising my property taxes, (the SALT deduction for which is now extremely limited to $10,000), I will vote for them regardless of party affiliation. Thanks for surveying our the opinions of the average citizen John, my best as always.

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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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