2010 Township Budget Passes Without Much Fanfare!

Tonight’s Board of Supervisor meeting made me feel like the kid on Christmas morning.  You know after weeks of anticipation, it’s finally Christmas morning.  You get up early, race to see what Santa has brought, rip open the presents and then a short time later you have that letdown is that all there is kind of feeling.

Although tonight’s Board of Supervisor meeting certainly had its high points, I came away feeling it was a bit anti-climatic based on the intensity which developed over the last couple of weeks. The meeting did get off to a very exciting start though — the fire company members arrived in force and brought fire trucks for effect!  Young and old firefighters lined up around the entire perimeter of Keene Hall creating a very moving visual statement.  CBS 3 Eyewitness News reporter and photographer filmed the meeting!   I just watched the news – only about 15 seconds worth made it to the news!

Chairman Warren Kampf opened the meeting explaining that we would not follow the agenda, but rather start with the budget.  Prior to opening the discussion on the budget, Mr. Kampf announced that there had been a fundraising effort by some of the supervisors over the last couple of weeks to raise funds for the fire companies to make up for their proposed budget contribution cuts.   Through private donations, the Holiday Contribution Drive raised $23,200. Mr. Kampf read a long list of businesses and individuals who had made contributions (list included Comcast, Fellini’s, San Nicola, etc.).  I have a feeling that this money was received in pledge format, so I am a bit concerned about the follow-up and collection.

With the money coming in from private donations to support the fire department’s reinstatement of the proposed budget cuts, there was no reason not to approve the budget.  There was some shared concerned from audience members that this private donation check to the fire companies is a quick-fix for the 2010 budget and that the money does not represent a longterm solution.  And there were many in the audience who believed that funding emergency services should be 100% funded by all taxpayers through the township budget rather than with private donations. (A sentiment shared by Supervisor JD DiBuonaventuro.) In fact, Berwyn Fire Department president Rip Tilden delivered a very passionate commentary concerning the ongoing and future needs of the fire company.  Although Mr. Tilden (as well as the representatives from Paoli and Radnor fire companies) are extremely grateful for this show of community support, we were all left wondering why it required such an outpouring of energy, ePetition, letters to the editor, blog postings, etc. over the last couple of weeks.  Remember, if we had to pay for the volunteer services of these firefighters it is estimated at $7-12 Million yearly.  Here’s hoping that all supervisors (including those taking office in a few weeks) will remember tonight’s meeting when work begins on the 2011 budget.  In the end, the budget passed 6-1 (Supervisor Mark DiFeliciantonio was the only vote of opposition).  It should also be noted that Supervisor DiFeliciantonio left the Board of Supervisor meeting once the budget vote was taken.  His departure struck me as  highly inappropriate as all departing supervisors were to be officially honored during tonight’s meeting.

There were other noteworthy items discussed during this meeting (including the accolades for the departing supervisors, update on St. Davids Golf Club’s $50K sidewalk offer, etc.) but I think that discussion will have to wait until tomorrow.  And I’m also hoping that a couple of my friends who attended tonight’s Board of Supervisor meeting will offer their personal insights.

The Clock is Ticking Down . . . Where Will you be Tonight?

The clock is ticking down to the final Board of Supervisor Meeting of 2009. Tonight’s meeting, 7:30 PM in Keene Hall, Township Building, will contain the approval of the 2010 township budget.  Remembering the last 2 meetings, I expect that tonight’s meeting will again be electrifying, dramatic, emotional . . . and any other adjectives you care to add.  I suggest that you either plan on attending or watch from home.  Remember folks, this is our township and our money that we are talking about!

How will each of the 7 supervisors decide to vote on next-years budget? I recall the draft budget was approved 4-2 (Bob Lamina was absent) Will the fire company’s see their budget contribution reinstated?  I just checked and the ePetition to reinstate the firefighters contribution is at 513 signatures.  There’s still time to  join these residents and show your support for the firefighters, click here to sign the petition. 

Do you think that the appeals from the residents and business community will make a difference in how each supervisor will cast his/her vote? What’s that saying about the “will of the people”?  Will that be recognized? How about the reinstatement of the staff longevity pay . . . will that be included in the final budget?  Do you remember the passionate plea from a township staff member at the last Board of Supervisor meeting; she suggested that some of the employees may be receiving as much as a 14% cut if the proposed budget passes.  Can we expect further discussion about St. Davids Golf Club and the $50K offer in the BAWG report?   There was a subcommittee created to discuss the sidewalk issue; will the public receive an update?

Tonight’s meeting will honor 3 supervisors who are retiring – John Shimrak, Mark DiFeliciantonio and my best friend, Judy DiFilippo.  John stepped in to finish out Bill DeHaven’s term and Mark completes his term, serving 4 years.  Tonight is a landmark meeting for Judy; it will mark her 20th (and final) year of serving on the Board of Supervisors – what a remarkable accomplishment of service to this community!  I am sure that you join me in thanking all three for their time and commitment.

In case you missed it, here is the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

I Want to Believe it Isn’t So!

This morning’s entry will be personal and indulgent.  When I decided to start the Tredyffrin Township: Community Matters blog about 5 weeks ago, I did so for several reasons.  I was very disappointed in the November Boad of Supervisor election results; and this blog provided a vehicle to talk about important ‘community’ matters.  Since the blog’s inception, I have been excited by the response from the local community – in fact there has been nearly 6,000 hits in this short time. 

In no small way, I believe that the success of Community Matters was driven by another local blog, John Petersen’s Tredyffrin Township Political Notebook. John and I become friends over the course of my recent campaign and I was grateful for his support. When I decided to start my blog, John was available to encourage and to answer my endless technical questions.  I believe that John’s blog offers a unique, cutting-edge way of looking at our local political landscape. Often times, John would write what so many of us were thinking, but for various reasons may not have said.  In some respects, my Community Matters became the counter balance to his Political Notebook.  John and I often discussed that the 2 blogs cohesively existed in the same ‘sandbox’ and offered independent viewpoints on similar topics.  The reader was often amused by John’s quickwit and creative take on everyday subjects. But I do I think people would be surpised to learn that the ‘real’ John Petersen is very different from the darkness that was sometimes reflected in his writings. 

All of this leads up to my disappointment in John’s decision to end Tredyffrin Township Political Notebook, stating that it is no longer required. I absolutely disagree with John’s decision and have told him so; I think that we need more than one voice in this community. We need him to keep the light shining on the important issues, especially during these severe economic times.  I’m hoping that with sufficient encouragement . . . John can be convinced to change his mind.   To read John’s last blog entry, click here

Here’s wishing for a change of heart from Mr. Petersen!