Date – December 8, 2009

Berwyn & Radnor Fire Companies Offer Written Public Statements

Both the Berwyn and Radnor Fire Companies have now written public statements concerning their individual budgets and the 5% budget cut contained in Tredyffrin Township’s proposed 2010 budget. 

In an open letter to the Tredyffrin community, members of the Berwyn Fire Company respond to the proposed 5% budget cut.  The letter also includes required upcoming capital expenditures. Here is an excerpt from their letter, but I encourage you to read it in its entirety and respond accordingly. 

For 2010, Easttown Township has decided to maintain the level of funding (both operating and capital) for the Berwyn and Paoli Fire Companies at the 2009 level. Tredyffrin Township has preliminarily approved a budget that will reduce its township contribution to our operating and capital budgets by 5% compared to 2009 funding levels. While this is a relatively small amount of money in the townships’ total budget, we feel it is a mistake for the township to move down this path-both because every dollar matters to our volunteer company and because we feel it sets a precedent that may be hard to reverse in future years.  

I have just received notice that the Radnor Fire Company has followed suit and their Radnor Fire Company President David Roderick and Chief James Kelly have issued a formal public statement on the proposed 5% reduction in support from Tredyffrin Township. Their letter likewise details the financial difficulties facing their volunteer fire company.  In addition, Radnor Fire Company provides clarification that their organization does not receive capital support from Tredyffrin Township.  Below is an excerpt from their public statement.

We will be already dealing with a 10% cut in support we receive from the Commonwealth and our fund drive numbers look to be down based on 2009 numbers. We are not asking for an increase and we stand together with our fellow Tredyffrin fire companies in Berwyn and Paoli.

Unfortunately, we were unaware that Tredyffrin Township was proposing cuts to our funding only until a few weeks ago. Furthermore, we never had an opportunity to present to the Tredyffrin Township Finance Committee or to the Citizen Budget Advisory Work Group that was established to perform a comprehensive budget review in ‘09.

It is interesting to note that the BAWG committee did not contact the Fire Departments directly before making their recommendations in their recently released report.  I have stated this before, but will re-state — unlike other reductions contained within the proposed 2010 budget, it must be acknowledged that the fire companies are almost entirely volunteer organizations.  Once again, the savings to the taxpayers of Tredyffrin Township is estimated to be $7-12 million annually!  The proposed 5% reduction in contribution to Berwyn, Radnor and Paoli Fire Companies is in addition to the 10% cut from the Commonwealth.  Read their open letters to the community — these organizations are being honest and transparent in appealing to the community for support! 

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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