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.