Lights, Camera, Action . . . Board of Supervisor Meeting!

Lights . . . Camera . . . Action!  A Hollywood screenwriter could not have scripted last night’s Board of Supervisor meeting any better.  Drama, Comedy, Suspense . . . the night had all the elements for a made-for-TV movie!

During the New Matters section of last night’s agenda, the audience watched as the individual personalities of the supervisors emerged; at times leaving the audience wondering who exactly was in charge.  Joining the cast of characters was ex-supervisor Bill DeHaven who chimed in multiple times from the audience-side of the dais.  Larger-than-life personality, Mr. DeHaven’s passion in his support of the fire companies was evident to all.  He chastised the supervisors for not having a long-range budget plan, suggesting that their current proposed budget was shortsighted and represented a band-aid solution to a far greater problem.  He further suggested that the supervisors go back to the drawing board and figure out how to ‘fix’ the proposed budget before December 21.  One of his recommendations was a ‘fire tax’ that would help fund the fire companies’ expenses.  (Interesting concept, why not explore further?) Mr. DeHaven’s criticisms of the proposed budget incensed Supervisor Bob Lamina, escalating to an angry exchange of words. 

Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro tried to steer the boat to a higher ground, with his continued support to reinstate the township’s 5% budget cut back to the Fire Company budget. An interesting player last night was Supervisor Mark DiFeliciantonio.  I’m not sure if Mr. DiFeliciantonio’s behavior was due to his lame duck status on the Board or his impassioned support of the Fire Company and EMS services.  Unfortunately, from my perspective Mr. DiFeliciantonio overstepped his position, when suggesting to resident Ray Clarke that he was not interested in hearing what he had to say; declaring that he was tired of Mr. Clarke saying the same thing, meeting after meeting.  Shame on this elected supervisor – when you are elected by the people of this township, you are elected to serve, and to listen to them all.   

Although I support open public debate among Board members, last night represented a fine line between respectful discussion and overt, antagonistic personal attacks.  At one point, Supervisor Warren Kampf offered a lengthy personal diatribe supporting his position to accept the proposed 2010 budget, which continues to be offered to the public as a ‘balanced budget’. (Several residents made public comments in support of raising taxes in lieu of reduction of township services).  It was during Mr. Kampf’s closing remarks that Mr. DiFeliciantonio abruptly stood up, walked through the audience and out the door.  Not sure what we were to take from his dramatic exit . . . what kind of message was this elected official looking to send?  Following Mr. Kampf’s remarks, Mr. DeHaven had the last word of the evening, suggesting that Supervisor Kampf was campaigning from the bench.

Last night this taxpayer had some questions answered (the mystery surrounding the alleged $50K offer from St. Davids Golf Club was put to rest by Supervisor Judy DiFilippo, which I addressed in my last posting) but other questions still remain. I am struggling to understand the sewer fund/streetlight issue.  I thought that the sewer fund was a stand alone operation and any additional fees proposed in the budget were to simply cover expenses.  Does the sewer fund actually subsidize the township streetlights? I do not understand the connection. If there is someone who has a better understanding of the sewer fund/streetlight issue, I’m appealing for some clarification. 

Between now and the final Board of Supervisor Meeting of the year, on December 21, if you have thoughts about the proposed budget, post a comment here, write a Letter to the Editor, send emails to the Board of Supervisors and the Township Manager.  I encourage you to get involved; let your voice be heard.  If you have a chance, please look for the rebroadcast of last night’s Board of Supervisor Meeting.  The meeting presented an up close and personal look at our elected officials and shed an interesting light on the inner workings of our local government.

Stay tuned for the next installment – update on the Fire Department later today.

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3 Responses

  1. Pattye
    Good accurate account of the most incredible suporvisors meeting I ever witnessed. Street light costs hidden in sewer fees? Whats that all about?
    I have to praise Judy Difilippo for the backbone and leadership she demonstrated last night. She put alot on the table for debate by giving the public full disclosure, thank you Judy. As far as the budget and fire funding issue, let me say that I was very vocal last year as to the need for some fiscal discipline in light of the economic disaster we were facing (still facing). I thank all the sup’s and township manager for making some incredibly tough decisions. However, enough is enough, I think we are going too far and not listening to the citizens of this Township. I will focus on what I think to be the most important issue, public safety. If you were able to strip everything away public safety would be the one resposibility you could not. It is well known as unemployment goes up so does crime. Yet we cut police and now fire funding. How hypocritical to praise our first responders for saving lives and then cut their funding while leaving in place a non essential like fireworks. I say fund the firefighters and put all true costs in front of the public and LISTEN TO THEM for a change.

  2. Thanks ‘Joey bag a donuts’ for your viewpoint. I too applaud the efforts to keep taxes down, but if I have to pay a couple extra bucks for a volunteer firefighter or township employee so be it. I watched a replay of the meeting today. Why is the Board fighting volunteers in our own township…libraries, fire company, boy scouts? This is truly an embarrassing situation for the Board. Mr. DeHaven lighting Mr. Kampf up was quite entertaining. You go Judy…at least you have backbone for us true Republicans, unlike Mr. Lamina who is out of control.

  3. The use of the sewer utility fund for street lights and traffic signals was in fact out in the open in the budget workshop materials, but I for one didn’t pay much attention to it. Here’s data I found, but you could definitely get a better analysis from the Township.

    In total, sewer fund revenues are forecast to be $3.8 million in 2009, 75% of the total operating expenditures budget of $5.1 million, a deficit of $1.24 million. The proposed fee increase makes up $847,000 (68%) of that deficit.

    Of the $5.1 million in 2010 (stays flat vs 2009), $275,500 goes to electricity for street lights and signals, $57,300 for repairs and maintenance on the signals and $53,000 for R&M on the lights – total $385,800, 7.7% of the fund. There’s also a capital allocation of $100,000 for a new traffic signal at Old Eagle School Road/Strafford Avenue, 6.0% of the $1.659 million SUF capital budget.

    I don’t know why this funding approach came about. Maybe because those of us in the western district off the sewage grid paying for our own septic systems used to be off the streetlights/traffic lights grid also?

    Is this the year to change signal and light funding? It seems that summarily transferring nearly half a million dollars to the general fund and then getting all that funding by increasing the budgeted $7.9 million of real estate taxes that provide half of the general fund revenues might not be the way to go.

    A good question for the politicians to weigh!

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