Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee Contribution Not Political?

I have kept busy with the moderation of many comments to my earlier posting, Question – Is it OK to Fund Township Budget With Political Party Contribution?  This posting has opened a firestorm of dialogue which I think is really useful for the community.  I thank the many readers for their comments and also thank local political committee members for offering their insights. In further review of last night’s Board of Supervisor meeting, I do have a few additional questions; any clarification from supervisors, fire company representatives, political committee members, residents, would be greatly appreciated. 

  • Is the $23,200 check that was presented last night to the fire companies, an actual check that represents funds received to date?
  • Or does the check represent pledges made by individuals/businesses?
  • If the check represents pledges, what is the timeline for the fire companies to receive the money?
  • How does the individual/business know which fire company to make their check payable to?
  • Or is one fire company acting as the central clearing house and will in turn make the distribution of funds to the other 2 fire companies?
  • Will the distribution of funds be proportionate to each of the fire companies based on their individual budget requirements?
  • Do you think that the contributions from individuals/business for this Holiday Contribution Drive may affect what these donors will regularly give to the fire companies in 2010?
  • CT Alexander stated that he was Chair of the Tredyffrin Twp Republican Committee (TTRC) and that his party was giving $5K in ‘matching funds’; by attaching this statement to his organization’s gift, is this not viewed as a political contribution?
  • I would suggest that if the contribution from TTRC had not been a public TTRC contribution but rather given annonymously, than it would not be a political contribution.
  • Mr. Alexander stated that the TTRC contribution was in matching funds; what exactly does that mean?  Matching to another contribution? If so, which one?
  • Supervisor Kampf read some of the names of businesses and individuals as public record.  For clarification purposes, will he be providing the public with a complete list of all contributors and the amount of each contribution?
  • Based on last night’s meeting, is it an accurate statement to say that Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson raised $18,200 in additional funds to the $5K contribution from the TTRC?

Sorry for so many questions.  I’m one of those people who is a stickler for policy and procedure.  I wrote my Masters of Public Administration thesis on government organizational theory so I am just trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together from last night’s amazing financial offer to our local fire companies.  Maybe the three supervisors who are responsible for arranging this generous fire company gift can shed some light on my questions.  Supervisors Kampf, Lamina, Olson can you help me understand how this Holiday Contribution Drive is to work?

2010 Budget Includes $50 Sewer Increase . . . Tax vs. Fee Increase or Simply Semantics!

In the last couple of minutes of last night’s Board of Supervisor Meeting something very interesting occurred.  The regular meeting had ended and the Public Hearing had a couple of items, one of which was to increase the Sewer Utility Rate for the year 2010 to $250/EDU.   Increasing the Sewer Utility Rate to $250 is a $50 increase which equates to a 25% increase and affects 80% of the township.  There was much bantering about this being a fee increase rather than calling it a tax increase.  To me, the end result is the same . . . more money is coming out of the taxpayers pocket.  Let’s not forget the mantra during this recent election cycle was based on not raising taxes.  Isn’t a 25% increase in the sewer rate raising taxes?  Again, I don’t care what you call it . . . the taxpayer is paying $50 more!  Can we please expect honesty and transparency from our local government leaders?

The interesting part for me was that moments earlier the Board of Supervisors had approved the 2010 budget which included this $50 increase to the Sewer Utility Rate.  We now have the motion presented in the Public Hearing to ‘officially’ adopt this increase.  Supervisors Shimrak, Olson, Lamina and DiFilippo voted for the increase; Supervisor DiBuonaventuro voted against, followed by Supervisor Kampf against the increase.  At this point of the evening Supervisor DiFeliciantonio had already left the meeting.   What was fascinating was as Supervisor Kampf called for the votes, he started at his right and there were 3 votes in favor of the increase (Shimrak, Olson and DiFilippo).  He quickly jumps to get Lamina’s vote in favor so that he would be able to vote ‘no’ to the increase along with Supervisor DiBuonaventuro.  This way Supervisor Kampf could get the motion to pass for the sewer increase but politically be able to still claim that ‘he had not raised taxes’.  What was this gamemanship about?  Had Ms. DiFilippo not voted in favor of the increase, the vote would have been 3-3 (rather than 4-2) and would not have carried.  If the motion for the Sewer Utility Rate increase had not passed, it would have been back to the drawing board for the just-passed 2010 budget!

Question – Is it OK to Fund Township Budget With Political Party Contribution?

Originally, I was not going to write about a contribution that was received last night at the Board of Supervisor meeting.  But the more I think about it, the more uneasy I’m feeling about what kind of message we are sending.  As Supervisor Chair Kampf read the list of contributors to the $23,200 which will fund the reinstatement of the fire company’s budget cut, I was impressed by the varied list of area businesses and individuals on the list.  He read a contribution from the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee (TTRC) – I remember thinking this seemed an interesting contributor, but there were no dollar amounts attached and I let it go.  Following the reading of contributions, the current chair of the TTRC, Mr. CT Alexander stepped up to read a statement from his organization which qualified their contribution, stating it was $5K in matching funds.  

I think we can all agree that I am about as non-partisan as they come, and I actually am a bit of a Pollyanna when it comes to how our leaders should govern our community.  I believe that government  should be for all the people and not based on which party you may belong.  So, here we go in to the new year with (1) a complete Republican Board of Supervisors; (2) our current Board of Supervisor Chair (who is a member of the Republican Party) deciding to run for State House 157; and (3) the local Republican Party donates $5K to the township budget. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that organizations (Republican Party Committee or otherwise) want to contribute directly to the fire companies, I am just questioning what this says about our local government taking political contributions for the budget?  Oh, I’m sure that this TTRC contribution is legal . . . so why does this offer somehow just not seem right?  Why do I feel a real uneasiness about the message (political party control?) that this may be sending to the community?  I would welcome comments – if fact, I’d be relieved if I could discover that this kind of political party contribution made directly to local government is routinely done in other municipalities.  I’m looking for some thoughts on the subject . . .