Will Tredyffrin Township’s Proposed 2013 Budget increase or decrease level of staffing in Police Department?

The consulting firm, International City/County Management Association (ICMA) has completed their operations review and data analysis of the Police Department; click here to read the detailed 92-page report.  The agenda for Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting includes a presentation of the ICMA Police Operations Report.

As reference, the Board of Supervisors approved this $49K police operations study in July.   Before approving the study, there was discussion from some of the supervisors about whether the money would be better spent on bringing the police officer staffing up to the authorized level of 47 (currently at 41) or using the money for Police Department equipment.

Will the ICMA report influence the proposed 2013 preliminary budget or have a bearing on the ongoing police contract arbitration? Probably the most important question that many of us wanted answered by the consultant’s study – How many police officers are required in Tredyffrin Township to provide adequate safety for the residents? Did the study suggest increasing the department beyond the authorized level of 47 or would the recommendation be to decrease the staffing level?  

The ICMA police operations study concludes that a minimum of two additional police officers needed to be immediately hired and assigned to patrol.  According to the report, the consultants were informed that two officers have been authorized, increasing the level to 43 police officers.

The ICMA report recommends the Police Department take immediate steps to review the current shift schedule and consider the alternative 10-hour and 40-minute shift schedule, see ‘Patrol Personnel, Shifts and Shift Strength, Four-Shift Model’ on pages 79/80. According to the report, this new schedule can reduce patrol over-staffing; thus decreasing personnel requirements.  However, the report notes that changing the shift schedule may be limited by the Police Department’s collective bargaining agreement. By modifying the current schedule, ICMA suggests there would be a reduction in the department’s need for patrol personnel.

According to the report, the current shift schedule provides a “total of six overlap hours during every 24-hour period. In other words, for six hours each day, two shifts (or approximately eight patrol officers) are scheduled to be working at the same time. The data analysis portion of this report confirms this. As stated elsewhere, these hours can be used for training and other purposes, such as participation in the department’s physical fitness program. But as the data analysis indicates, this dramatic increase in manpower suggests some inefficiencies that are built directly into the shift schedule.”

ICMA claims that the alternative schedule, which uses four starting times for shifts each day instead of three, will provide for greater flexibility, “both in terms of varying start times and in aligning manpower with calls for service.” By making this change in scheduling, the report indicates a reduction in supervisory staffing requirement.  As I understand the report, if the Police Department were to move to the alternative 10-hour and 40-minute shift schedule, the standard of service to the community would be maintained with 43 officers (implying that the additional 4 authorized staffing vacancies would not be filled).  However, the report points out that if the schedule is not changed, it may require the staffing level to increase to 45. Currently the Police Department has authorized staffing for 47 officers – my read is that ICMA does not recommend filling those two additional vacancies.

The current breakdown of the 41 members* of the Police Department are as follows:

  • 1 superintendent
  • 2 lieutenants (operations and administration)
  • 8 sergeants (6 assigned to patrol, 1 detective sergeant and 1 traffic sergeant)
  • 6 detectives (1 assigned to patrol)
  • 7 corporals (6 assigned to patrol, 1 assigned to traffic)
  • 1 community policing officer
  • 16 police officers

*My understanding from reading the report is that an additional two police officers has been approved and these officers will be assigned to patrol, bringing the total to 43 officers. The additional two officers will help reduce the overtime expenditures.

It makes sense that the reduction in Police Department staffing directly affects overtime expenses. With vacancies of six police officers (47 authorized down to 41), the report provides overtime data that underscores the additional overtime expense. The Police Department’s overtime costs in 2009: $55,175; 2010:  $66,231; 2011: $144,037 and up to August 15, 2012: $138,914.  Overtime expenditures in the first 8 months of 2012 were nearly as much as all of 2011 and clearly the overtime costs will continue to rise until the end of the year.

Will the recommendations contained in ICMA’s study have any effect on the township’s proposed 2013 preliminary budget? In reviewing the proposed 2013 budget, the actual level of police staffing is not obvious.  Does the proposed 2013 budget allow the Police Department to increase staffing to its authorized level of 47?  We should remember that the authorized level of 47 police officers is actually a decrease from previous years — at some point in the past, the Police Department had 50+ officers.

As it now stands, the proposed 2013 preliminary budget includes a 5.5% tax increase with the $40M unfunded medical liability dark cloud hanging over the township. In addition, the ‘elephant in the room’ is the ongoing contract negotiations between the township and the police union, Tredyffrin Township Police Association (TTPA). Since January 2012, the contract between TTPA and Tredyffrin Township has been in arbitration; the 3-year police contract expired the end of 2011.  The process has been held captive for nearly a year, waiting for a ruling from independent arbitrator, Michael Zobrak.

Because of the comments on my post, “Lifetime healthcare benefits of Tredyffrin Township Police Association result in $40M unfunded liability – What’s the solution?“, I filed a ‘right-to-know’ request with the township.   I received copies of TTPA 2004 and 2009-11 contracts.  Until a new contract is signed, the Police Department continues to work to their last contract, 2009-11.  The  starting point for the collective bargaining agreement is with the 2009-11 contract; therefore, my comments below are taken from that contract. (Click here to review TTPA-Tredyffrin Township 2009-11 contract).

 Without a copy of the police contract, there was conflicting information and questions, much having to do with the medical coverage of retired police officers. Here are the facts according to the 2009-11 contract:

  • For officers (and their spouses/dependents) hired prior to 1/1/99 who retire after 15 years of service, medical coverage is provided without cost, except for co-pays and deductibles.
  • For officers (and their spouses/dependents) hired after 1/1/99, who retire after 20 years of service, the township shall pay the premiums for medical coverage in the amount of 4% multiplied by the officer’s years of service. An example given: 4% x 20 years of credited service = 80% premium payment.

According to the 2009-11 contract, if an officer retired on or after 1/1/2009, the township may coordinate its obligation to provide post-retirement medical coverage with available Medicare coverage.  “For those persons eligible for Medicare, the township shall reimburse them for any cost associated with acquiring Medicare, including the cost of Plan B coverage. In addition to being responsible for all costs associated with Medicare coverage, the township shall purchase supplement insurance and the township shall self-insure such as is necessary to provide the retired officer and spouse with the same level of insurance coverage they enjoyed before coverage was coordinated with Medicare.” 

It was my understanding from the budget meeting, that retired police officers received lifetime health care benefits; however that point was debated on Community Matters.  Reading further in the contract, it states that, “… Officers who retired prior to 1/1/09, as well as their spouses and eligible dependents, shall be permanently vested with, and continue to enjoy, the same level of healthcare benefits being provided for them by the Township as of 12/31/2008 at no cost, except for co-payments and deductibles then in effect.”

The missing link in the discussion was the 1/1/2009 date and whether the police officer retired before or after that date determines the medical coverage.  Until I read the contract, I did not know the requirement for retirement was 15 years of service before 1/1/99; after that date, it became 20 years of service.  I had incorrectly assumed that retirement benefits required 25 years of service.

For those police officers currently employed by the township, the township pays the entire medical premium for police officers, including spouse and children, with officers paying co-pays and deductibles.  Benefits also include dental and vision coverage.

Another question previously raised was the longevity bonus pay of the police officers and how it was calculated.  According to the contract, the bonus is computed as follows:

  • After 4 years of service              2% of Basic Yearly Salary
  • After 8 years of service              4% of Basic Yearly Salary
  • After 12 years of service            6% of Basic Yearly Salary
  • After 16 years of service            8% of Basic Yearly Salary
  • After 20 years of service            10% of Basic Yearly Salary

The biggest roadblock in collective bargaining contract disputes these days is health care benefits (in addition to salaries). Certainly health care benefits were an important component in the recently settled T/E teacher contract negotiations.  Appreciating the current economic environment, the teachers agreed that their generous healthcare plan of the past was no longer possible, changes were made in their teacher’s contract accordingly.   At present, there are 52 retired police officers and their families that are receiving retirement medical benefits.  According to the 2009-11 contract, it appears that police officers retiring before 1/1/2009 are not required to  go on Medicare when eligible.  It would be interesting to know how many of the retired 52 officers have opted to go on Medicare benefits (even those not required to do so) when they became eligible.

As the T/E School District’s contract with the teachers union is a public document so is the Tredyffrin Township Police Association contract with the township.  Some in the community have voiced concern with residents speculating about the contents of the police contact.  I am of the opinion that as the T/E School Board has the TTEA contract available on their website, www.tesd.net, the township should likewise provide the TTPA contract on the website.   Providing the public documents to the residents lessons the confusion and misinformation that comes about by not know the facts.

I look forward to your comments on ICMA’s report reviewing the Police Department and the 2009-11 agreement between TTPA and the township. Monday, December 3 Board of Supervisors meeting includes the proposed 2013 preliminary budget and the ICMA police operations report on the agenda.

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  1. A couple of tips of the hat: to the majority of the BOS for commissioning the consultant report and to Pattye for obtaining the current contract. Now there’s the foundation for an informed public discussion of the level of service the community expects, the efficiencies with which that service should be provided and the fair total compensation for those providing the service.

    Re the consultant report: To my mind we got excellent value: lots of data and very specific recommendations. The Superintendent, his team and the BOS should be tasked with responding to each and every one. Are the ideas practical? What would the service level impact be? What would the cost implications be? It’s rather disappointing that the consultants did not estimate the financial benefits of their recommended shift timing change.

    My guess is that the residents like the current “no call is too minor” approach. I for one appreciate the idea that a patrol will come out to even a minor traffic accident. An average 7 minute response time does not seem too short.

    But it is interesting that fully 40% of calls for service are police-initiated and that capacity utilization, if I read the Appendix data right, is about 25%. We certainly do need to staff for more than the average demand level, but perhaps the minimum “3+1” shift staffing could indeed become the norm instead of the current “4+1”. Do half of all calls need more than one unit to respond?

    License plate readers look to be a great idea, as does a County-wide prisoner booking facility. And the overall theme of improving performance measurement across the board seems hard to dispute, unless it would be too costly to collect the data. I like the idea of the “Professional Standards Officer. I see that one duty would be to audit officers’ compliance with checking voicemails and emails – maybe that would avoid missing future court dates ……

    There are many fundamental recommendations that need review, so it’s clear that the township should entertain only the shortest of terms for the upcoming contract. The current one is certainly eye-opening. Current compensation: an average salary that significantly exceeds $80,000 when the shift differential and longevity bonus are factored in, plus overtime, court time, stand by time, complete medical, dental, prescription and vision insurance, up to 20-25 days vacation, 12 holidays, and 2 personal days. Retirement at age 52/25 years of service. Retirement compensation: a 50% pension (although in surely a mistake, the contract language states the ANNUAL pension to be 50% of the MONTHLY compensation), with a (capped at 30%) cost of living increase plus payment for medical coverage (at least now the same plan as for current employees) or Medicare and supplemental premiums. (Benefits dependent on years of service.

    We should recognize the actual annual cost of hiring a police officer under these terms. For example, let’s say an officer retiring at 52 after 25 years service has another 25 years to receive retirement benefits. Simplifying outrageously (ignoring the drop-out rate, the cost of money, investment returns, overtime, the 5% officer pension contribution, the cost of all the other benefits, future inflation of the CPI and of healthcare costs, etc. [that’s what the actuaries are for]) to the $80,000 salary we should add say $20,000 for current year healthcare benefits, $40,000 for a year’s worth of pension, and say $15,000 (maybe no dependent coverage then, but older) for future healthcare benefits: so that’s $155,000 a year.

    Is that compensation appropriate? Perhaps. But it exceeds the current resident household income and is subject to healthcare cost inflation that is out of the township’s control. At the very least, healthcare needs to be reined in, and such an elite force should leave no stone unturned in the search for efficiencies.

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  2. A few comments:
    .
    I echo Ray’s positive comments about the BOS commissioning the report and Pattye providing the contract and the public forum.
    .
    We’re lacking perspective relative to what other similar townships are offering for law enforcement compensation. The PDE makes it easy to compare school districts. I don’t think there is any comparable organization for township services. If police arbitration is similar to teacher fact finding, much of that information has already been submitted to the arbitrator.
    .
    I wonder how difficult it is to attract and retain law enforcement personnel. That would give a good indication whether compensation is adequate or excessive.
    .
    It will be interesting to hear the discussion and see what action is taken by the BOS. Change is difficult; it’s much easier to just retain the status quo.

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  3. It has been my experience that when consultants have no expertise to offer (technical skills–engineer, architect, IT), there is usually no true purpose to a study but to offer a new perspective. This BOS seems to lack a compass, so turns to consultants for direction. Not sure how this report will guide them…the term herding cats comes to mind, but I actually have faith that this BOS is putting energy into trying to reach the right conclusions. Some stronger leadership could probably produce a comparable consensus.

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  4. Already the intimidation. Patch reports that “cops are expected to show up in big numbers” at tonight’s meeting, and cites unattributed officers’ opposition to the report. The best place to see the presentation and form your own conclusions could be your living room.

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    TE resident Reply:

    Really? If you actually left the comfort of your home you would have witnessed the debacle. The ‘professional’ from the study couldn’t even make it to the meeting. He’s a busy professor. (Mind you our tax $$ paid for the findings of his report).
    Not to mention the Skype idea was a major joke. So we all endured a phone interview which left many of us dazed and confused.

    If we cut Spanish or the PHD teachers in T/E parents come out in force. I can’t imagine why making sure we have enough men & women in police uniform is such an argument.
    We expect a safe community. Not one with less of a force then we had ten years ago.
    It’s pathetic how few people show at these BOS meetings or have no clue about township talk and reality.

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  5. Did we ever consider the fact that maybe the officers are showing up to support…..I don’t know, the community they serve. More Officers on the street protects the residents, business owners and patrons, and visitors to our township. Why are we so focused on numbers, when the real issue here is taking care of people. I feel that our officers fight for us, without ever knowing who most of us are, and deserve the respect of standing behind them, when all they are trying to do is increase manpower in order to add to the level of service. I don’t believe it’s intimidation, it’s trying to make the quality of life better in this town.

    Does anyone that reads this blog ever compare TTPD salaries and benefits to neighboring townships. Oh, and compare the #of calls, and other services provided?? TTPD seems to be less compensated than other municipalities, and if I remember correctly, took less pay over the years in order to maintain a certain level of benefits. Boy….do they sound greedy or what????? How dare they try and work with the township, who is over the top wealthy, (((SARCASM!!!!!!!!!!!)))))

    Let’s all grow up, and realize that TTPD takes care of us better than a lot of PD’s in this area.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Lower Merion Twp Police union contract:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6C8sHXDr6DCNEk3dHI2T3lvTU0/edit
    Unlike most municipalities, LM has their police contract available online. On medical benefits and pension, LM defines retirement as 50 years of age plus 25 years of service. The medical coverage of current and retired police officers in LM is detailed, over pgs. 28 – 55. Lower Merion Twp/police union contract is 85 pgs. long and covers specifics. On the other hand, Tredyffrin Twp/police union contract is 22 pgs. and does not include the same level of detail as LM. I would be more than happy to add other neighboring police contracts, if they were available to the public.

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    Thanks again, Pattye, for your enormously valuable service.

    That LM contract looks to be very instructive, and I’ll try to make a moment for a line by line comparison. I don’t think the story is going to be the same as for the teachers……

    I do recognize the point about relative compensation being important, but I would ask readers to also consider this: Possibly compensation levels for public sector workers have got so out of alignment with the compensation of taxpayers, that EVERY jurisdiction faces an unsustainable economic drag? Differences between jurisdictions perhaps reflect different paces at which they come to terms with this?

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I did get around to the comparison, filed here:
    https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B0vLCW_qYyQbMjhBeVB3Z3NXSFk

    Much caution is in order when reviewing this tabulation. The Tredyffrin agreement contains only a summary of the pension plan terms. Both agreements contain many provisions that I did not attempt to summarize. Both agreements have different coverages for employees hired at different dates; I tried to record only those terms applicable to current hires.

    My conclusion is that the cash compensation for an officer is similar in both townships, possibly a little higher in Tredyffrin. The pension plans are very similar, with a 3% of salary higher contribution in Tredyffrin.

    The healthcare benefits for both current and retired employees are significantly different. Tredyffrin offers a specific Aetna PPO plan and pays all premiums and 50% of co-pays. Lower Merion offers a POS or HMO plan (for which the provider can be changed), for which the employee has to pay a 3 or 4% premium share. For retirees, Tredyffrin offers the same plan as for current employees and dependents, and after Medicare eligibility will pay for any Medicare basic and supplemental premiums the retiree chooses, up to the value of the employee plan. In Lower Merion, the employee pays as 6% premium share for an HMO plan covering the retiree and spouse and the township liability ceases with Medicare eligibility.

    I would imagine that the cost of providing the same service level would be significantly lower In Lower Merion because of a lower healthcare expense.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Ray, thank you for providing the benefit comparisons between Lower Merion and Tredyffrin Townships — I appreciate the effort!

    Clearly, it is the medical benefits (both pre and post-retirement) where there is more of a difference. Kudos to you for reading through the 85 pgs. of Lower Meriond’s contract. I hope that the new contract with TTPA contains similar details as LM. LM contract runs through 2012 whereas Tredyffrin ended last year — could it be that because LM negotiated their last contract a year after Tredyffrin, there were a clearer sense of the economy and were able to make needed (but difficult) changes. It seems that overall, compensation is fairly similar between the two townships. I have been told that Easttown Twp starting salaries for their police officers is significantly higher than Tredyffrin Twp but that their benefits are less. I have not seen the contract so cannot confirm the information.

    John, You make some excellent points. However, I don’t think a discussion comparing the benefits of police departments in surrounding municipalities is not valuable. Why should the comparison of police contracts be that different than the comparison of teachers contracts, at least as related to medical benefits and pensions? I think there’s value in comparing the number of uniformed officers in the neighboring townships — obviously, if the two are of similar population, size, etc.

    But I don’t think the discussion on what some may view as contract minutia should negate the importance of the $40M unfunded liability. For the last couple of years the township budget has included $250K/yr. contribution to the unfunded liability with the 2013 budget proposing $500K/yr. contribution. To pay down the $40M debt means either decreasing costs (services) or increasing revenue. Although there are hopeful signs that the economy is improving — reportedly housing sales are up and so is new construction, there’s a long road ahead.

    Back to your comment as to an Earned Income Tax. Clearly, facing a suggested 5.5% tax increase in 2013, the supervisors cannot continue to look in that direction, so what will it take to push the EIT envelope? If the TTPA contract is not settled favorable on the medical expenses, what’s going to happen? Klarich plugged in medical costs in the 2013 budget based on a new insurance plan, but if the police agreement doesn’t support the change … what then?

    If residents want to continue the quality of service (from police support to snow removal) that they have enjoyed, the community needs to ask itself where’s the revenue to pay for it coming from …?? With $3M leaving the township yearly in EIT revenue, when does that become an option.

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    I noticed that LM has come to a new four year police agreement providing 3.5% annual salary increases and improvements in “pension service increment” and vision, dental and life insurance, offset by additional employee pension contribution requirements and “cost containment” for healthcare insurance for active officers and future retirees.

    The LM Board President illustrated how the benchmarking ratchet (racket?) works with her statement quoted on MLM that: “The proposed contract is competitive with recent labor agreements and arbitration awards for other area police departments.”

  6. The salaries for the TTPD seem to be extremely generous. Base salary for a TTPD officer with 1 year on the job is $61,874, after 3 years it increases to $75,917 and a detective earns $81,229. These are base salaries and do not include shift differential, detail pay, OT, etc.

    A newly minted FBI agent assigned to the Philadelphia area earns $45,771 plus $9,974 in locality pay and $13,936 in Law Enforcement Avaibility Pay (LEAP) for a total of $69,681. If I understand LEAP correctly, it is provided to federal law enforcement agents in lieu of OT provided they work at least 50 hours/week. A TTPD officer starts earning OT after 40.5 hours/week.

    Also consider that new FBI agents must possess bachelor’s degress plus either a law degree, CPA designation, fluency in languages the FBI is interested in such as Farsi, Russian, etc., anelectrical engineering degree or certain IT certifications, or 3 years of work experience (very few agents are hired through this entry path). The entry level requirements for a TTPD officer are 60 college credit hours which can be waived for candidates with military, lawn enforcement or pre-existing Act 120 certification.

    I understand that Tredyffrin is a top notch police department with very high quality officers but one has to wonder if the pay has become overly generous when compared to the duties of a police patrolman. I also would be willing to wager when the TTPD offers the test for new officers, the door is almost being beaten down with highly qualified applicants that would love to take the job, even with a reduced compensation package.

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    Concerned Citizen Reply:

    When your house gets broken into, or your child goes missing, or when you have some other problem that you can’t possibly fix on your own, CALL THE FBI!!!! See if they get to your house or workplace in 5 minutes and offer 100% of themselves to make your life better.

    I would also love for you to get your facts straight before you start spouting off on here. A first year Tredyffrin Officer makes a base salary of $41,000. Only after three full years of service do they top out, and then that salary stays the same for the most part. And “service”, is putting their lives on the line everyday for people like you, that really don’t seem to appreciate them. Obviously you’ve never been in a life or death situation, or defended someone you didn’t even know, just because it’s your job.

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    Praying Mantis Reply:

    Concerned Citizen,

    I suggest you re-read my post before you accuse me of providing misleading information. I wrote that a TTPD officer with 1 year of service earns $61,874 (or $29.75/hour) before OT, shift differential, etc. I compared this against the total starting salary of a new FBI agent assigned to the Philadelphia area which is $69,681 (or $26.80/hour) which they earn for a 50 hour average work week with no possibility of further OT. The FBI is highly selective and requires post graduate education or other advanced skills of its agent applicants while the TTPD only requires 60 hours of college which can be waived under certain circumstances.

    You are correct in stating that the starting salary of a new TTPD officer is around $41,000. However, as the author of this blog previously mentioned, TTPD considers the 1st year of employment as training for a new officer, after which they receive a $20,000 or 51% +/- raise. Pretty generous if you ask me. Also, that $41,000 salary seems pretty good considering new officers hired who haven’t attended the police academy are earning it to to go to school and those who do have the academy are probably riding with a training officer for much of the first year.

    No question TTPD is a quality police department with high quality officers, much more so then other departments…Philadelphia being an example. As an affluent community, Tredyffrin citizens expect and are paying taxes to ensure a certain quality of service from their police. i think it comes down to supply and demand. I believe that there are many qualified high quality applicants interested in police work and those individuals will work for a more realistic compensation package and am interested in hearing what others have to say. you don’t and you are entitled to your opinion. Although it is a different field, ask anyone who has recently graduated from college with a degree in education about getting a job in a public school other than Philadelphia, Chester, etc. It’s almost impossible because there are many many applicants for only a few jobs because everyone knows public schools pay very well and very few people leave once hired.

    Lastly, I’d caution you about making assumptions about my life experiences. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life in the fire/emergency medical services and have been in more than one hairy situation. I’ve done this to receive compensation of exactly $0. I do it because I believe strongly in volunteerism and with my skill set and disposition, I feel that it is the best place I can make a difference in my community. So please, spare me the lecture on what “service” is. I’ve lived my life providing it and don’t expect any special recognition or a rub on the tummy from the members of the community. Nor do I use the fact that I could possibly be killed or injured in the line of duty to leverage the sympathy of the citizenry to extract personal gain for myself like you just attempted to justify high police compensation. Respect for a job well done and the camaraderie of my peers in fire company where i volunteer are just fine with me.

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    cp Reply:

    Tredffrin’s Police Department is much more than patroling our community. Many, if not most, of our officers are trained experts in varying fields of law enforcement. These officers are committed to excelling in these areas of expertise and often attend advanced training courses by using their personal vacation time. We also have officers who are certified instructors and lead training sessions throughout the country. These personal choices bring back a host of law enforcement expertise to our community that is not necissarily found in other police departments. This comment is not meant to contradict anyone’s opinion. It is meant to perhaps broaden someone’s view on the function of our police department in our community. In my opinion, the expert training our officers complete matches any education requirement of an FBI agent. If anyone would like to gain an understanding of the day-to-day workings of the police department or insight into the advanced law enforcement expertise within the department, I suggest you check out the Citizen’s Police Academy. Here’s the link for further information. http://www.tredyffrin.org/police/crime/cpa.aspx

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  7. PM — I think you and Ray are spot on as to the fact that public sector increases/guarantees have lost touch with private sector wages. Yes, there are those in the “money” field who make fake money by earning a percentage of everything they touch…I say fake because some of them make extraordinary amounts of money and others make a decent living. But kids coming out of school into entry level jobs are thrilled with $40-$50K and some benefit contributions….especially before they turn 27. We call the alternative the “law school cruise” where kids are literally staying in school and tyring to upgrade their credentials because there are no jobs out there….

    This economy is the reason we have wars overseas and haven’t had to resort to a draft. People are earning a living. And candidly, our TTPD is wonderful, but the closer you get to the city, the more “hazard pay” you are likely to warrant. These guys are not in the MIddle East or a major urban corridor. It’s the 50 year retirement thing that is the most troubling. People run marathons in their 70s.

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  8. First off how hard was it to get this ‘professional’ at the actual meeting on Monday? What a joke, slap in the face to the police department and the good citizens of Tredyffrin. To have this ‘professional’ on skype and it not working is an EPIC failure. $50,000 of evasive comments (going over what is spelled above) and then we had to follow on a conference call.

    I echo the President of the Pan Handle association’s comments from the meeting. With all the Aqua road construction and road closures. Game over for any of us in need of an officer on an emergency call at least 7-8 miles from headquarters. With low man power it is still a struggle to get a patrol cruiser here.
    We barely see them as it is, I hate to fathom a robbery, major accident, or a child goes missing.

    I really hate to see how hard we fight to keep our schools strong with the best teachers, we should be doing the same with the police force. No questions asked.
    If this board needs to doubt that, they need to be voted out.

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  9. Now that I am moving away, I find it interesting to see how my future home handles municipal services. There is one property tax bill which includes state, county, county school, county solid waste, special services and transit. When we closed on our home there, as a requirement of our homeowner’s insurance, we had to register the house with the fire department, where we were charged a fee based on the assessment on the house. (about a dollar per thousand, market based assessment) Bigger house, bigger fee. Not sure it’s obligatory, but it is if you want homeowner’s coverage. It also makes sense that the mega mansions pay a great deal more for fire protection service…which presumably they do here but since we only pay township tax and it’s “blended in”, who can tell? And we all know our assessments are basically mystery numbers…We have multi-million dollar homes in this area, but few if any are assessed at even half their value, whenever they are built.

    The taxes are billed twice a year, with the first installment an estimate and the second one reflects the total millage for the year less the first installment.

    I only mention this because it seems we keep trying to fix things that aren’t broken…..we try to reduce expenses by cutting manpower, but possibly it’s the “other stuff” we need to address, like efficiencies of scheduling, paper management (we bill for county, local and school in 3 bills, and then we send a sewer bill, and we fundraise for fire protection. We offer a discount for paying on time, instead of a due date with interest and penalties for failing to do so. ) Candidly, it seems we hire consultants because we need “back up” for decisions we make. Rules substitute for judgment.

    We need to listen to each other. the BOS hires consultants because look how the community responded to volunteer consultants — bashing the BAWG and the Tax Study Commission results. We are not the gold standard for government or schools or parenting or lots of things. But we are a very fine community with solid citizens and aspirations to do the best for each other and our families. We all need to keep our eye on the prize. And the elected officials need to be reminded that they are US on the other side of the table. They dont’ suddenly become smarter and more powerful with their successful election. They need to be willing to listen to constituents to inform their opinions…and we need to make a greater effort to respect their effort in reaching their decisions.

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  10. Over my long life, I have discovered that police spending is akin to military spending. It is always going to increase. It is an American attribute. We spend money on local police departments just as we spend money to maintain an arsenal of 5,113 nuclear warheads on the national level. So many people make money from the current state of affairs, that it is unlikely to change. I would rather see all that money devoted to education, protections for the senior population, or medical care.
    I am very old and jaded. I know that although cigarettes kill people and are addictive, they will always be around to the day I diie. The reason is that so many people make money from them. I also laugh when people talk about getting rid of drugs in Philadelphia. They could never do that. They would have to lay off thousands of court staff who handle the cases, police will lose overtime for court appearances, they would have to close the “reform schools” in the suburbs such as St. Gabes or Glen Mills. It would be a disaster.
    I know life would be chaotic without a police department, but I honestly do not think the number of police in any way affect my actions.But spending for police and military or police weaponry will always increase. Sorry, it’s never going to change.

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  11. John as an ombudsman for all that is Tredyffrin, your critic of just about everything makes for good reading.. But step out of your ombudsman role and be pro active by presenting new ideas and thoughts first, before someone else does. I am eager to see how you would change things, not including wiping out the BoS, the School Board, and blasting comments here on this blog. (sometimes deserved). thanks

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    John,
    You gave this some thought!

    I really like some of these suggestions — citizens proposing agenda items — wouldn’t that be something! I absolutely support (and have said so several times on CM) that once elected, supervisors need to leave their political committee position at the door. Like the way Radnor’s Home Rule Charter works — their commissioners are prohibited from holding elected political office. If they win election, they are immediately off their political committee position. Period, no questions — its part of their HRC. You are taking it a step further and suggesting that elected political individuals cannot sit on township boards/commission. The BOS currently has 3 GOP committee members sitting on the board (Kichline, Mayock, Richter) and I have no idea how many committee members (GOP or TTRC) are currently on boards/commissions.

    I like the Sept. 1 BOS notification for tax increases. If Sept. 1 is viewed as unrealistical, at a minimum the residents need to know if there’s an increase pre-election. The tactic of waiting until after the election to drop the news really is not satisfactory.

    Although I support a balanced Board of Supervisors, I’m not sure how one could mandate the no more than 3 seats rule to a political party. I’m not sure how this would work, you can’t guarantee the election results. What happens when the votes are not there to support that outcome — please explain.

    A couple of questions — what’s a township media function? And how do you suggest incorporating social media into public meetings?

    Thanks for this list; you really got me thinking.

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    Andrea Reply:

    John — some good ideas. And after all, we asked for them.

    I completely agree with your first suggestion. The formal rules of procedure are the most obvious to me — I cannot understand why they do not have them. One of the obvious reasons supporting that, in my opinion, is that we rarely hear ANY discussion on a topic except as they vote on it, and then we hear reasons for an individual’s vote. When the motion on the floor is the recommended action, there should be debate. The way it seems to operate now is in “contentious” issues especially, the BOS have a hearing on a topic (the DNA issue comes to mind) and they listen to lots of testimony, but then they vote on it without any discussion between themselves. So we hear 5 minutes from each supervisor about why they are voting the way they are, but they never debate it amongst themselves, at least not for our benefit. It becomes more than suspicious that they did their debating individually and not in the sunshine. It makes the testimony seem irrelevant.

    But I have a major problem with this idea:
    “No one political party shall hold more than 3 seats on the BoS at any one time” Parties endorse candidates, they do not provide “guaranteed” seats.

    The notion of restricting a political party from holding more than 3 seats is just unrealistic. I We live in a democracy — people are selected by election, not by appointment… people are voted on as individuals, not as Rs or Ds. The fact that the political committees (at least the Rs) already require a Female and a Male from each area is anachronistic…you cannot legislate intellect or balance. Isn’t it the obligation of the voters to create the balance you want? If indeed there are 3 lousy candidates from one party, they still get elected because they “own the seats.”?

    And this suggestion: “The chair of the BoS shall only vote to break a tie. ” means you give up your vote by becoming chair. The chair is in fact a rotating title without any real control…but this would make the chair the “vice president” who we know only goes to State Funerals …. and breaks ties. We might not like the idea of a party in charge, but voters make that happen.

    “There will be bona-fide citizens advisory board that will be active in the budgetary process” ….wasn’t the BAWG an effort at this? Who decides if it is “bona-fide.”

    3 Competitive bids….are there any laws governing this? The school board requires competitive bidding, but may select consultants. Otherwise, the obligation to select the “lowest qualified bidder” would mean you could not consider intangible factors…just bids. No one wants to select the “cheapest” consultant if their work is not valid. In the case of this consultant report on the police, it is not clear why they chose who they did. Obviously the result was boilerplate and not worth the price….but could that have been eliminated? Again, who gets to decide on the quality? The school district has a Purchasing Department that vets each bid and provides recommendations and why…not sure the township does that?

    I appreciate your putting these ideas out there. Unfortunately, putting a wise and beneficient dictator in charge isn’t likely to happen. I think most agree that needing consensus and majority is not neat and easy — but it’s better than the alternatives….

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  12. Just to get a few things straight here…No police officer can ever work on the street before attending the academy as someone indicated earlier. An officer goes through the academy, proceeds through a 16 week field training period, than finishes out the first year on their own. At the end of that year they receive a large increase in salary. Keep in mind that most places don’t operate that way. In fact, most departments start their first year officers at a rate near the top.

    Second, TTPD officers merely want their salary and benefit package to be comparable to similar agencies. Those covering similar demographics. They no longer have medical for life, they have it until they reach medicare age.

    The BOS wasn’t willing to negotiate at all when the contract was ready to expire, therefore, the TTPA had no choice but to enter into arbitration.

    Folks in this area should spend some time living in an area where the police don’t provide the service that the TTPD provides. If they would, they would realize just how lucky they are.

    Ask anyone in the law enforcement community and they will tell you, we have one of the best darn police departments you will find on a municiple level.

    I for one hope the BOS gets spanked by the arbitrator for treating the officers with such disrespect.

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    Ray Clarke Reply:

    What is a resident to think?

    On the one hand, Pattye provides documents that indicate that TTPD compensation is better than that of Lower Merion and that the township pays medical premiums, including Medicare and supplements, for life. On the other, this statement says that the officers want their compensation to be comparable to to similar agencies and that they believe that they no longer have medical for life.

    On the one hand, the BOS tries to address a problem ignored by its predecessors and take steps to stop the growth of a retirement healthcare liability that is equivalent to the cost to every man, woman and child in the township of having a $200 smartphone stolen every year for five years. On the other, the TTPD feels treated with disrespect.

    In their recent agreement, TE teachers stepped up and recognized that the there have been structural changes in the economic underpinnings of their compensation. I think that in the long run they will be well served by the settlement that put the students first, notwithstanding the TEEA’s strong advocacy of their position in the negotiations.

    It would be great if everyone could work towards practical solutions to immediate problems.

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  13. “Andrea..this may be a wake up call for you and others that have actively supported these people. I woke up a while ago – realizing that these were bad people. They have no ethos or core values that center around benefiting the community. These are the worst possible people we could have in public office. The events of the past 7 years unequivolcally prove that point.”

    I have not “actively” supported anyone without knowing them and trusting them. And I am done arguing this. These are NOT bad people. The ones I know personally are earnest and honest. I don’t have to agree with them to respect their effort. “Waking up” only to look in the window and criticize is not my thing.

    Republic / Democracy — call it what you will. I have advocated for years to get people more engaged. Pattye’s blog has done so. But to be angry and critical about any and everyone just accomplishes nothing. When I was on the school board, I used to say the only way to fill the meeting was to move a bus stop — because then it affected people personally. I don’t know the answer, because we elect people. Majority rules. There was a BAWG and you found them corrupted. There is a BOS and you think they are bad. Well — I get discouraged, but I do not for one moment believe anyone sitting at the head table is malicious. I believe John DB is misguided and has perhaps become too arrogant — but then again, he ran UNOPPOSED. Kind of certifies a general approval.

    If this blog continues to be “last word” lip, it won’t have many willing to comment. I thank Pattye for the forum. I hope it doesn’t degenerate into a meaningless peanut gallery of people taking shots. We need this kind of exchange.

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    Andrea Reply:

    John
    I don’t give a hoot if you agree with me. You want everyone to worship on the altar of your expertise, but it’s all from the peanut gallery. (My phrase indeed!) You are unlikely to be elected as Chief Dictator, and I guess you’ll have to continue to live some place you hate with rules you dispute and people you dislike.
    Yes — I know and trust Warren Kampf.
    Yes, I know and trust Michelle Kichline, Mike Heaberg and Paul Olson.

    Knowing and trusting someone does not mean I agree with them, nor does it mean I have suddenly become naive about politics. I stood up and complained about JD’s letter…I wrote the school board several times in the past decade and am satisfied my voice was heard. It’s THEIR turn.

    And not to disappoint you, but you continue to suggest that the TE Board got its clock cleaned, and for that I call you a moron. No such thing happened, and Sultanik did exactly what they needed him to do, and then left, taking all the bad will with him. But what do I know? I was on the school board for 3 terms 10 years ago… and I have copies of every contract for the past two decades and contracts from surrounding school districts and Superintendent contracts from about half a dozen districts. I could be like you — just think I know more than I do — or I could be constructive, which is what I have tried to be.

    Give it a Rest…. (a name I used to use when I posted here…think I’ll go back to it!)

    Oh — correcting Keith’s reference to glasnost by correcting his spelling……better not go there. Maybe be a Guy with a Clue….spelling not his forte either.

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  14. Ray said, “What is a resident to think?”
    .
    Both sides in the TTPD negotiations are silent. There is no attempt to correct errors and misinterpretations. There is no attempt to inform the public. (except for the forum Pattye provides) Contrast this to the TESD negotiations.
    .
    Maybe it’s time for some gladnost by the BOS.

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  15. And we thought Tredyffrin had a problem. See Alan Thomas’ article below:

    http://mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2012/12/11/main_line_suburban_life/news/doc50c710b34f990591616243.txt?viewmode=fullstory

    “The Radnor Township Citizens Audit Review and Financial Advisory Committee report wastes no time getting to the bottom line. Part one is the OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) problem estimated to be $214 million. Part two is the pension problem, estimated to be $22 million”

    “CARFAC’s concluding recommendations are to immediately put into effect a full-time hiring freeze, to continue to audit beneficiaries, to negotiate a plan to move all retirees into the township’s active medical/dental plan, to engage State Representatives and municipal organizations on the problem and to continue getting at the cost specifics.”

    Interesting that it took a citizen committee to articulate this.

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