Radnor Townsip

A Review of Radnor Twp School District’s Teachers Contract … Will the Results Help T/E Teachers?

The following Community Matters post, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered … Radnor Twp School District & Teachers Union Ink 3-year Contract with Salary Increase … Is there handwriting on the wall for T/E Teachers?”  is from March 23, 2011.

A year ago, the Radnor Township School District signed a 3-year contract with their teachers union( RTEA) that was surprising, given the economic situation of the times.  Fast forward to 2012, and T/E is in the midst of their own contract negotiations.  This post and the attached comments from a year ago, make for an interesting commentary to compare and contrast where we are in our own teacher negotiation process.  Can we learn anything from the decisions of our neighboring school district?

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“Signed, Sealed and Delivered … Radnor Twp School District & Teachers Union Ink 3-year Contract with Salary Increase … Is there handwriting on the wall for T/E Teachers?”
~ Community Matters, March 23, 2011

It is now official, Radnor Township School District and the teachers union, Radnor Township Education Association (RTEA) have voted to approve three-year contract, September 1, 2010 – August 31, 2013. Below are some of the highlights of the contract.

Salary Highlights:
Salary freeze September 1, 2010 – March 3, 2011 (6 months)

Year One Salary:

  • No step movement
  • Average pay increase after freeze: 1.57%
  • Top salary step remains at current level
  • Average lump-sum payment for top salary step: $749

Year Two Salary:

  • RTEA members move to next step
  • Average pay increase: 3.26%
  • Top salary step remains at current level
  • Average lump-sum payment for top salary step: $1,206

Year Three Salary:

  • RTEA members move to next step
  • Modest increase to top salary step
  • Average pay increase: 2.66%

Health Benefits Highlights:

  • RTEA members agreed to significant increase in the cost of health insurance
  • Stating March 4, 2011, teachers move from fixed contribution to a percentage-based contribution
  • Year One – salary contribution 0.75% – 1.5%
  • Year Two – health care plan changes from Blue Cross to lesser premium-cost plan, with increase co-pays doctor and hospital visits (salary contribution 0.85% – 1.5%)
  • Year Three – salary contribution 0.95% – 1.65%

Retirement Option:

  • Eligible teachers will receive a one-time retirement payment from $25K – $50K (depending on number of retirees). The retirement option is in effect for limited time to allow district to reduce payroll.

OK, so looking at the contract inked between the Radnor Township School District and RTEA, is the handwriting on the wall for T/E School District?  So much for Gov. Corbett’s recommendation for a one-year freeze . . .  Radnor’s teacher union only agreed to a 6-month freeze.  However, after the 6-month salary freeze, the teacher union pulled off 7.5% salary increase for the following 2 ½ years of the contract.

Remember, if a teacher qualifies for a step increase, his or her salary increase would actually be higher than the average yearly salary increase. Radnor’s teachers contract is remarkable given today’s economy and budget shortfalls!

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What do Sidewalks, McKenzie’s Brew House and St. Davids Golf Club have in common? Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors Meeting

Today’s post includes a roundup on a variety of topics. 

Due to President’s Day, Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting will be Monday, February 28.  Based on the length of the agenda, we could be in for a long evening!  Here are some of the scheduled highlights: 

Sidewalk Subcommittee Presentation – This is the third attempt at this presentation; the first date cancelled because Bob Lamina was out-of-town and the second date was rescheduled because presenter and subcommittee chair Tory Snyder. 

A bit of Sidewalk Subcommittee history . . . Do you remember Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meeting back on February 22, 2010? If you recall, there was much debate about the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk requirement in their land development plan.  First, the supervisors voted to return the $25K sidewalk escrow to St. Davids and then, based on public opinion, opted to reverse the decision in February 2010.  

Because of the St. Davids escrow debate, a Sidewalks Subcommittee was formed to review (with public input) the future construction of sidewalks and bike lanes in the township. The township continues to hold St. Davids sidewalk escrow pending the outcome of the Sidewalk Subcommittee’s recommendation and then ultimate vote of the Board of Supervisors relative to sidewalk requirements in the township.  Understanding the open liability issues on land development projects, the sidewalk subcommittee was presented with an end-of-the-year timeline to present the supervisors with their recommendations. Public hearings and a public survey were included in the sidewalk subcommittee analysis.  It is my understanding from attending their meetings that St. Davids sidewalk is included in the sidewalk presentation.

Interesting agenda item:  Schedule a public hearing on March 7, 2011 to consider a liquor license transfer in the Township – I was curious about this agenda item and contacted Mimi Gleason and discovered some potentially good news for the township.  McKenzie’s Brew House is expanding and is interested in a location in Tredyffrin – the old Charlie Brown Restaurant location in the Valley Fair Shopping Center.  This will be a multi-municipality liquor license transfer, as they will be moving the license from the old Basil’s in Willistown Twp to the Charlie Brown location.  According to Mimi, this transfer does not require any sign-off from Willistown, just needs our supervisors support and approval.  Moving to the same shopping center (in the Bargain Bookstore – Tuesday Morning location) is Meeley’s Furniture Store, taking both floors. Filling empty retail and restaurant locations is good news for the local economy!

Planning Commission Annual Report – listed as an agenda item, I admit I do not recall the Planning Commission making a public presentation of the annual reports in the past. Wonder if there is any relationship between the timing of this annual report and the upcoming Public Hearing on March 21 to discuss an amendment to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance giving the Board of Supervisors the authority for approval or denial of a land development plan. (Currently this authority is with the Planning Commission). 

Newly appointed supervisor Mike Heaberg will be taking his place for the first time at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.  I wish Mike well and know that his financial expertise and independent views will prove an asset to the community.  Speaking of supervisors, the candidate petition signing is underway for the school board and the board of supervisors.  On the school board side, I cannot offer much public information, except that five of the nine school board seats available.  Three of the five current school board members will seek re-election (Karen Cruickshank, Jim Bruce, and Pete Motel) and two board members will not (Kevin Mahoney, Debbie Bookstaber). I do not believe the slate of school board candidates is finalized – I think the deadline is March 8 for petition signatures. 

Tredyffrin’s GOP held their endorsement meeting this week and endorsed Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock as Republican at-large supervisor candidates.  Heaberg was also endorsed to run in the special supervisor election.  Paul Olson and John DiBuonaventuro were endorsed as eastern and western district Republican supervisor candidates.  On the Democratic side, opposing Heaberg and Mayock, as at-large candidates are Molly Duffy and Ernie Falcone.  It is my understanding there will not be a Democratic candidate for the western district slot.  I am unsure if either Duffy or Falcone will oppose Heaberg in the special election. 

Here’s an interesting and creative way to increase revenue for the school district.  There is a proposal in Radnor School District for ‘naming’ opportunities.  The current policy on the ‘naming’ of school facilities is restricted to honoring community members for their contribution to the community or school district.  By relaxing the naming requirements may offer some financial benefits to the school district.  This idea has some potential . . . a science lab, a hallway; the auditorium . . . all could have naming opportunities.  Maybe the school district permits the naming on a yearly basis and the naming opportunity goes to the highest bidder.  Just a thought . . . TESD, any interest?

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Another Grocery Store Closing . . . Wayne Acme on the Chopping Block!

 

When is it going to end? 

Another local grocery store closing – this time it’s Acme in Wayne.

The Acme chain, part of the Supervalu network of grocery stores, operates 123 stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland is shuttering 6 stores, including one in Limerick and Wayne.  The Wayne Acme is located at 300 E. Lancaster Ave. (Rt. 30).

This week a brief statement was provided by Supervalue in regards to the Acme store closings.  Spokesman Steve Sylven suggested that these locations “are not meeting corporate goals.”  He further remarked that, “Acme strives to ensure the success of all its stores.  However, it is occasionally necessary to close those that are not meeting company goals in today’s competitive and difficult economic environment.” 

Wayne’s Acme has long been rumored to be closing but it looks like it is no longer just a rumor.  The lease on the property is up in March and will not be renewed. A blog, Acme Style, is dedicated to ‘Preserving the History of Acme Markets’ and features pictures and stories of closed, abandoned and repurposed Acme grocery stores.  (Photo is this article provided courtesy of Acme Style.)

Are you curious as to what the landlord has planned for the property post-Acme closing? I understand that the landlord has plans to break up the space and create multiple restaurants . . . Panera Bread, Five Guys and Chipotle have been mentioned as possibilities.

So we have economy driving corporate decisions for grocery store closings but people have money to go to restaurants; what’s wrong with this picture!

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Will T/E School Board Include an Activity Fee in the 2011-12 Budget?

On the eve of the Special T/E School Board meeting, there is much discussion on the $8.8 million deficit for the district’s 2011-12 school year and its challenge.  Over the last couple of weeks, I do not recall much discussion about the possibility of adding an activities fee to the 2011-12 budget. If you recall, the T/E School Board passed the 2010-11 school year budget without the inclusion of an activity fee.  The estimated $80K in activity fee revenue was removed before the passage of the final budget. The consensus at the time was there was not enough time to look at the details required for such an assessment.  However, it was thought that some form of an activity fee should be discussed for inclusion in the 2011-12 budget.

Every year, students of all ages opt for extra-curricular activities.  The activity may not be high-profile football or some other “major” high school sports.  The involvement may be in the performing arts or any variety of positive clubs or organizations that contribute to making school kids better citizens.  Depending on the activity, the kids and their parents may spend a lot of personal money on extra-curricular expenses (sports workout clothing, voice or instrumental music lessons, club-related materials, etc.). In addition, along with time spent on their studies, these students spend inordinate amounts of time practicing to become better performers or working for the good of the club. It’s also not uncommon for them to devote many hours of added time with fund-raisers to defray organizational expenses.  Parents are not to be spared, either. Any parent of an “involved kid” at school will tell you about driving kids to and from practice, helping with fundraisers, etc.  So how do we feel about imposing an activity fee on the T/E students and their families?  Do you think that an activity fee will impact participation?

Checking other school districts, Lower Merion, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Owen J. Roberts and Kennett school districts currently have no additional activity fees. (I was not able to verify that Radnor School District imposes an activity fee – maybe a reader knows the answer.)  Great Valley and West Chester school districts do not currently have an activity fee but are considering such a fee for the 2011-12 school year. The Downingtown school district charges their activity fee at a flat rate of $25 per sport. 

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District currently has an activity fee but is considering an increase for next year’s budget. Their suggested approach is a creative four level-tiered schedule – $10, $25, $50 and $75 depending on the type of sports and student activity.  The fees will cover many kinds of activities from math and academic clubs to participation on sports teams, like football and basketball.  With the increase, the activity fees will generate an annual income of $133.00.  The calculation of fees was based on total cost of the activity, an amount not to exceed 20% of the total cost.  Using football fees as an example, the proposed increase is 200%, from a current $25 fee to $75; the increase would still be under the 20% of total cost.

If T/E adds an activities fee to the 2011-12 budget, how would the assessment be applied . . .  per activity, per sports involvement?  Would the charge be an annual assessment per student or per family?  Will the assessment be a flat rate or a creative multi-tiered approach?  Where does the T/E school board stand on the activity fee subject?  I will be curious to see if the activity fee subject is discussed at tomorrow night’s special School Board meeting.

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Will Radnor Commissioners Support Residents Vision to Improve Walking and Biking in their Community . . . And Will Tredyffrin’s Walkers and Bicyclists Enjoy the Same Support?

Over the last 6 months in Tredyffrin Township, there has been much public commentary about sidewalks and trails in Tredyffrin  — St. Davids sidewalk issue, Patriot’s Path, the Sidewalks Trails and Paths (STAP) committee and the newly formed subcommittee that will review sidewalks throughout the township’s communities.  We can see that the sidewalks are nearing completion along Conestoga and Old Lancaster Roads in Berwyn and I noticed that storm water materials have arrived for the Irish Road section of the sidewalks below the high school. 

Sidewalks and trails have become a much discussed topic among many in the community.  There are those residents that support and believe in making the township more walkable and bikeable; others that do not want an increase in taxes to provide for sidewalks, trails, etc. at any cost; and still others who simply believe that in today’s era, people are not going to use the walkways and therefore don’t think that they should be considered.  Depending on who you ask, you may be apt to receive several different opinions. Reaching a consensus on the subject of sidewalks and trails, . . . is that actually possible in Tredyffrin?

With sidewalks and trails such a ‘hot’ topic in Tredyffrin, it was interesting to read the following article by John Boyle, of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.  With the popularity of the Radnor Trail, there is a proposal to link that trail to the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, which I believe is down by the Philadelphia Airport.  Connecting Radnor’s Trail would allow for a connected 18 mi. bike ride.  Coming up in front of Radnor’s Board of Supervisors tomorrow night, I will be curious to see if their commissioners support the vision of many bike riders of creating interconnecting safe trails in the Southeastern section of Pennsylvania.  With so many differing opinions on the ‘value’ of trails in our community, do you think Tredyffrin bicyclists would ever the necessary support that’s required for such a vision as Radnor bicyclists are seeking?

The Vision for a Trail from Radnor to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
By John Boyle, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Imagine a resident in Wayne, biking a few blocks to the amazingly popular Radnor Trail, but instead of the short out and back ride that is possible today, that person would be able to travel 18 miles and visit the Egrets and Bald Eagles at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

Such is the vision for a trail tentatively named Radnor – Tinicum Trail The trail would extend the existing Radnor Trail under I-476 via a deer tunnel and then follow the right of way of the Norristown High Speed Line (Rt. 100) just south of the Main Line across Haverford Township. The width of the right of way for the most part is wide enough for 4 tracks but since only 2 tracks were built there is in theory enough space for a rail with trail.

The trail would then follow Cobbs Creek on the unbuilt portion of the Cobbs Creek Trail which was blocked by NIMBY’s in the Overbrook Farms neighborhood in 1990’s. The trail will straddle the creek near Upper Darby and Millbourne before taking the existing Cobbs Creek Trail and the planned extension to Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and the East Coast Greenway. The TIGER funded 58th Street Connector Trail will provide access from Cobbs Creek to the Schuylkill River Trail via Bartram’s Garden and the South Street Bridge.

The trail alignment offers multitude of transit connections and will improve local walk and bike to transit access along Route 100 line including a long awaited direct pedestrian connection between Radnor’s Route 100 and R5 rail stations.

On Monday night the Radnor Township Commissioners Meeting will vote on a resolution to support the concept of a trail along the Rt 100 line. You can show your support by attending the meeting and voicing your support during the public comment period.

Radnor Township Board of Commissioners
June 21, 2010
7:00 PM
Radnor Township Municipal Building
301 Iven Avenue
Wayne , PA 19087

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Radnor’s Interim Finance Director Discovers a New Way to Lose $600K . . . Whoops, the shading was too dark to read!

Here’s a new excuse for an accounting mistake.  It was announced this week at Radnor’s Board of Commissioner’s Meeting that the township lost $600K . . . rather they never actually had it.  Apparently, some of the columns on the Excel accounting sheets are shaded too darkly to accurately read so the wrong numbers may have been picked up.  When the township’s commissioners asked Alison Rudolf, Radnor’s interim finance director to explain why the actual and working budget numbers are different, her explanation begins with maybe there was an  ‘absence of some zeros’!   I couldn’t make this up — and to explain sloppy accounting with the excuse that the Excel spreadsheet’s shading was too dark! 

Apparently, Commissioner John Fisher, who sits on the township’s finance and audit committee, complained in the past that the shading on the Excel spreadsheet was too dark . . . he told the residents at the commissioner’s meeting that he would lighten his own copy before printing so that it was readable.  Even after Commissioner Fisher alerted the finance department of the situation, the shading problem was ignored.  Lightening up the use of shading in a document does not take an advanced degree in computer science . . . and now this is the finance director’s excuse for the $600K accounting error!   

The inability of the finance department to reconcile the books would have been a stunning revelation by itself; but for Radnor’s Township Manager and Finance Director to offer this kind of excuse is truly remarkable!  Ms. Rudolf explained that the township uses two different kinds of accounting systems, one for budgeting and the other for everything else.  The budget system uses Excel.  The Excel spreadsheets were so darkly shaded that they were not readable, so Ms. Rudolf states it was difficult to read some of the entries!  Are the residents to believe that the finance department then just guessed what the numbers were?  Does this explain Ms. Rudolf’s assertion that perhaps some zeros just went missing?

Another problem with Radnor’s 2010 budget — the budget was based on a significant transfer of revenues from the Sewer Fund.  (do you remember Tredyffrin’s Sewer Fund discussion from December?)  It now looks as if the Radnor’s Board of Commissioners spent money from the Sewer Fund that was not there.  A reduction in usage due to conservation efforts and the economic downturn meant another large shortfall in anticipated revenues. 

One bright spot for Radnor’s residents is that this recent budget problem is forcing the commissioners and the township’s finance department to focus on the revenues and expenditures of their 2010 budget.  I would also guess this situation will encourage 2011 budget discussions in Radnor Township earlier rather than later. And just remember, Radnor Township has an Interim Finance Director and this $600K error occurred . . . what does that say for Tredyffrin Township?  We have not had a Finance Director since March.  Maybe a status report on where the township stands with getting this position filled would be a good idea!

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“Dysfunctional Politics of Washington Brought to Tredyffrin” . . . so says resident Bill Bellew

During the citizen –  new matters portion of the supervisors meeting last night, township resident Bill Bellew delivered a well-written, measured statement to the Board of Supervisors concerning their actions over the last few months.  His remarks primarily addressed the cut in fire funding and subsequent supervisor fundraising efforts and the St. Davids sidewalk decision. 

Bill’s comments specifically addressed chairman Lamina’s recent letters to the editors in the paper and the leadership of the Board of Supervisors.  At one point, Bill suggested that the Board had brought the “dysfunctional politics of Washington to Tredyffrin”

In closing, Bellew remarks that ” . . . We are looking for leadership; not the bully pulpit.  We are looking for progress; not drama.  If you, Bob [Lamina], think you are doing the people’s business by the present day actions of this board, you are sadly mistaken. The political game is exactly that,  a game.  The Board was elected to govern, just do it. . . “

I believe that Bill’s remarks last night represent the concerns of many of us in the community.  Listening to Bill’s statement,  I would love to think that some of our elected officials would do some soul-searching . . . what’s the saying,  if the shoe fits, wear it?  But I fear that like myself and others who have raised similar concerns and questions of the Board, Mr. Bellew’s remarks will simply be dismissed.  Or . . . will Lamina’s response be another letter to the editor?

Please click here  to review see all of Bill’s comments captured on YouTube — his remarks are powerful!

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The Definition of a Poor Leader as provided by Tredyffrin Township . . . distrust, discontent, anger and partisan rancor

Since last Fall, the residents of Tredyffrin Township have endured seemingly endless examples of bad governing, including;

  • $50K St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk offer
  • Fire Funding 2010 budgeting (fireworks vs. fire funding)
  • Fire company politicization
  • Improper supervisor solicitation of funding (Comcast, etc.)
  • Home Rule Charter violations
  • Inconsistent ethics decisions (Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust vs. Fire Funding solicitation)
  • Political party grandstanding/campaigning (cardboard check presentation)
  • Public political party commentary

 . . .  all provided courtesy of our Board of Supervisors leadership, Warren Kampf as chairman in 2009 and Bob Lamina as current chair.

Most of us have an opinion on the definition of a great leader.  It’s one of those concepts, in which everyone seems to have an opinion.  Instead of defining a great leader, what about the definition of a Poor Leader?  If you go to Webster’s Dictionary and see how they define these two words separately, here is what you get:

  • Leader – A Person or thing that leads
  • Poor – Deficient or lacking in something specified, lacking in skill, ability, or training, deficient in desirable ingredients, qualities

If you combine the two you get something like:  Poor Leader A person in a leadership role that lacks the necessary skill, ability, and overall qualities to effectively lead. 

As a leader you are tasked with delivering results.  The best leaders know that consistently delivering great results is not something that they can do in isolation.  To get members of the community to support our local government, our elected leaders need to avoid the worst traits of poor leaders.  In my experience these include:

  • Being arrogant
  • Unwillingness to learn
  • Bullying
  • Poor Communication
  • Incompetence
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Aggression
  • Insincerity
  • Deceitful
  • Ruling with an iron hand
  • Indecisiveness

This brings me to the purpose of this post.  In this week’s edition of the Main Line Suburban Life, is a I See It’ article written by Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Chair Bob Lamina.  Having attending this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting hoping for an apology for his aggressive, disrespectful behavior of the April 19 supervisors meeting, you can imagine my outrage over Lamina’s outrageous, arrogant words. Do you characterize Lamina and his style of governing as an example of a good leader or a poor leader . . . you be the judge!

Much has been written over the last few months in Main Line Suburban Life, Main Line Times, Daily Local and Community Matters in regards to the governing of Tredyffrin Township and its leaders.  Since the April 19 Board of Supervisors Meeting, there have been several articles and commentary speaking directly to the leadership of Bob Lamina. Provided are some links in case you missed them:

Here is the article which appears in this week’s Main Line Suburban Life by Bob Lamina. Read the article and reflect on Lamina’s selective memory of the April 19 supervisors meeting.  Fortunately my memory is better and I’m hoping that Tredyffrin’s residents share my recall.   This comment already appears after Lamina’s article, ” . . . In your short tenure as the Chair of the Tredyffrin BOS, you have managed to set a record for the most missteps in the shortest period of time.  Congratulations. Disgracing your position in record time is a legacy you can be proud of long after the much-anticipated expiration of your term.”

The politics of firefighting and other matters

Published: Tuesday, May 04, 2010

By Bob Lamina

In a recent editorial, a local resident who also happens to be a local firefighter pointed out some of the qualities in our community that make so many people look to Tredyffrin as a great place to employ and be employed, to educate our children, to worship, to raise a family, to run a business. In short the qualities that make our township such a wonderful place to live. These are qualities which have long constituted the character of this community – ones which hopefully will endure in the future.

One of the qualities I’ve also mentioned on a number of occasions as being one of our township’s most endearing, qualities I believe have been equally integral to the character of our community, has been the generous spirit of volunteerism – the spirit of giving, the spirit of shared sacrifice and the spirit of shared risk and reward – that makes up the very fiber and indeed the history of our township.

That is why last fall, in that same spirit of shared sacrifice, during what remains to this day to be extraordinarily challenging economic times, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a 2010 budget that contained within it some very difficult but necessary decisions. Within our budget were the results of an earlier decision to reduce our township staff by 20 positions – 11 of those through layoffs, the rest through attrition. The budget froze most other township salaries with the exception of those required by collective-bargaining agreement, we instituted a hiring freeze and we reduced the police budget. All other general fund services, with the exception of the fire companies, were reduced by at least 14 percent. 

By comparison fire-company service providers’ budgets were reduced a modest 5 percent. In so doing, we adopted I believe what the community wanted, a budget that was fair and balanced and contained no real-estate property-tax increase. Despite these good works, during our deliberations we continued to hear from many in the community who asked that we try and find a way to preserve funding sought by the local fire companies. Not unlike a former supervisor who often utilized the bully pulpit we sit on to urge citizens to give generously to the fire companies, it was in response to these requests, that Mr. Olson, Mr. Kampf and I – citizens who happen to be supervisors and public servants who are also citizens of this same community – worked hard to find a way.

And the good news we announced way back on Dec. 21 was that in a great example of private-public partnering – not unlike our much larger and equally successful Library Capital Campaign a few years ago – individuals, businesses both large and small, organizations and foundations generously came forward in response to our year-end holiday appeal on behalf of our local fire companies. As was also stated at the time, the most remarkable aspect of our ability to provide the sought-after funding was really the manner in which we accomplished it. In a little more than 10 days we were able to restore the funding not in the form of additional subsidies, spending and new or higher taxes during challenging times, but in the form of pledges by others in our community who by their generosity agreed to reach out and lend a hand during the holiday season.

And that I suppose is why I was so compelled during our last public meeting to question the motivations of those few individuals who came forward to challenge what we successfully achieved nearly four-and-a-half months earlier. My fear is the continued rhetoric being displayed by those who for one reason or another still can’t comprehend the generosity of our community is in fact putting at risk some of these same qualities I believe are critical to our future and ones that we must maintain. Perhaps they didn’t believe that the funding we announced in the form of pledges would really ever be received. Well, we know now the facts are we’ve actually exceeded in charitable giving what was sought to be funded through tax dollars. We also know by earlier comments by a local blogger and former unsuccessful Democratic candidate for township supervisor that she and other similarly motivated individuals had a stronger preference to reach into our taxpayers’ pockets for funding, and that the notion of shared sacrifice for the greater good perhaps shouldn’t necessarily be shared by all. In my view this would have been to take the easier and I think incorrect road – one of increased taxpayer subsidies and spending.

So with that said, and with the political season in full swing, with the run-up to the Pennsylvania primary election on May 18, it’s always easy for those who clearly have a different point of view, or who are otherwise politically inclined, to throw around words like “conflict of interest,” “ethics” and “pay to play.” While I respect everyone’s First Amendment right to come forward at our meetings and speak their mind, those who know me best understand that I will also never shy away from expressing my own views. And in this instance, while I find that to make such politically charged and unfair assertions some four-and-a-half months later may help sell newspapers, it represents quite a ridiculous point of view with no basis in fact other than to dangerously put in jeopardy one of our township’s demonstrated and most cherished qualities – the spirit of charitable giving. Frankly the tone of some of the comments made near the end of our April 19 meeting was to somehow absurdly suggest that companies doing business in our township aren’t caring citizens too. That is just flat-out wrong, and to continue this type of rhetoric is in fact to tear at the fabric of what in part makes this community great. But, you know, in the end I think the political shots some of us have been receiving are nothing compared to the shots average citizens have taken in our community these past few years.

So while I’m not worried about the former, I do worry about making the right decisions for our community. The economic stress in our township is still very real. Revenue used to fund government services generated by transfer taxes on the sale of residential and commercial properties isn’t what it used to be, some folks have lost their jobs and their homes, and many have seen their retirement savings greatly depleted. So as I’ve stated, while it isn’t all that unusual in the heat of the political season for every gnat in the minority that’s ever nipped at our heels to want to take us on – or at least those of us who may happen to be running for one political office or another – I would challenge those who have differing views to put aside the rhetoric. I’m all too happy to have a spirited debate on the real issues facing our community. On public-safety matters like support for our firefighters, let’s put aside the politics. I hope that, for the sake of our community and the continuation of the qualities that make this community great, we can all agree on the positive nature of what was accomplished by bringing people of walks of life together in Tredyffrin to help the fire companies.

I’m committed to doing so if you are. But if there’s anyone who still wishes to draw a political lesson relative to my statement concerning my own character, please know this. I will continue to work for you in good times and bad, and not shy away from making the right and often hard decisions I believe are in the best interests for our community. And lastly, one of the qualities I neglected to mention that also makes this township so great is that we do have good government in Tredyffrin, from the guy who plows your streets to this elected board. We work hard to keep your taxes as low as we can, maintaining the services you have come to expect, while at the same time not making local government intrusive in your lives. So when you do go to the polls on May 18, as I’ve mentioned in these remarks, and like the citizen firefighter who expressed so eloquently the qualities that make this township such a special place, please consider what it’s going to take to continue to maintain these qualities in our community in the future. So whether you’re a citizen supervisor from our own township who aspires to higher public office, or any other candidate, know we’re not playing games here; we’re here doing what we believe is the people’s business.

Bob Lamina is chairman of the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors and a former member of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee.

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Yes, The Fire Companies Do Fundraise . . . Radnor Fire Company’s Italian Buffet this Sunday!

Fundraiser for Radnor Fire Company

Yes, the fire companies do fundraise — I encourage you to come out and support them. The Radnor Fire Company Auxiliary is hosting its semi-annual Italian Buffet this Sunday, April 25th.

Radnor Fire Company Italian Buffet

Sunday, April 25th
4:00 – 7:00 PM
At the Firehouse
121 South Wayne Avenue, Wayne

Dinner includes Rigatoni, Meatballs, Peppers and Onions, Green Beans, Salad, Bread, Beverage and Dessert.  Bring your own wine.  Adults $9.00, Children under 10, $5.00 (under 2 free)

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Berwyn Fire Company Weighs in on Status of Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Fund Drive

If you recall, at the December 22 Board of Supervisors meeting, there was a Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Fund Drive announcement and cardboard check’ presentation by Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson.  The check in the amount of $23,200 was well documented on the local news channels, in the newspaper and here on Community Matters.  This check was to represent the township’s 2010 budget cut to the fire companies. Although Paul Olson has called me periodically to update me on the Holiday Fund Drive, there had been no official word from either the fire company nor the supervisors.  Last week I sent an email to Rip Tilden, president of the Berwyn Fire Company and copied the Board of Supervisors asking the following questions:

(1)   What was the total amount received by Berwyn Fire Company as a result of the solicitation efforts of supervisors Olson, Lamina and Kampf?
(2)   Has Berwyn Fire Company distributed the money to Radnor and Paoli fire companies?
(3)   Can you provide a complete list of the donors, individuals and corporate?
(4)   Are there any contributions that the fire company can not accept and therefore must return?

Rip graciously supplied me with a detailed response to my questions.  Accompanying his  letter to the community was a wonderfully supportive note which I much appreciated.   Below is Rip’s open letter to the residents of Tredyffrin Township.  As I expected, Rip reports that it has been the policy of Berwyn Fire Company not to provide donor information, preferring to turn that responsibility over to the supervisors who were in charge of the solicitation (Kampf, Lamina, Olson). 

I am going to send a copy of this letter to the Board of Supervisors and ask that the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Fund Drive be added to next week’s supervisors meeting agenda.  The Holiday Fund Drive has successfully achieved their December goal, and much like it was important to publically announce the solicitation drive with the ‘cardboard check’, I likewise think it is important that the community have closure on this matter. I will ask for an official update from the Board of Supervisors and their response to my questions, including the list of donors.

Berwyn Fire Company response to questions from Pattye Benson

April 10, 2010

Dear Tredyffrin Community,

On behalf of the three fire companies that service Tredyffrin Township (Berwyn Fire Company, Paoli Fire Company, and Radnor Fire Company), I can report that we have received $24,400 as a result of the Tredyffrin Township Supervisors Holiday Fund Drive effort. We understand that one or two additional donations may still be coming to us, which would make the ultimate total greater than that amount.  The donation money will be divided among the three fire companies based on coverage area (each fire company will receive the money donated by individuals and companies who reside in their coverage areas).  We plan to distribute the money to the other fire companies this month (each of the presidents of the fire companies agreed to wait to distribute the funds until all the money was received). 

These funds will be included in the annual fund drive totals at the fire companies, which means we will use them to help fund our general operations. We encourage members of the community to donate directly to the fire companies through the direct mail fund drives that are currently in progress.  The funding needs of all three fire companies are substantial.  For example, the annual operating budget for the Berwyn Fire Company is approximately $1.5 million, with about 18% of our funding needs in 2010 covered by municipal support (your tax dollars).  We must fund the other 82% of our operating expenses through our own fundraising efforts, billings for ambulance calls and other sources (grants, rent, etc.).  The Berwyn Fire Company responds to approximately 3000 calls a year (fire and ambulance calls) with a team of 65 volunteers and 9 full time employees (firefighter/EMTs and firefighter/Medics).

We have long had a policy of not releasing the names of donors (either individuals or companies) who make contributions to the fire company, unless they specifically ask us to do so.   No one has done so in this case.  We feel strongly that we should respect the privacy of our donors.  We thank those who have coordinated this fundraising effort and we feel we should allow them to handle any questions as to donor information.

We thank the members of our community for their support during the budget discussions last year, and for their financial contributions. When it comes to our funding needs, your support is invaluable. 

We are now focused on working through the Tredyffrin-Easttown Fire Task Force to put in place a long-term funding solution that will ensure that all of the fire companies that serve these townships can continue to provide the superior fire/EMS services that we have come to expect in this community. We look forward to working with both Boards through the current Task Force to achieve this goal in 2010.

Sincerely,

Rip Tilden, President
Berwyn Fire Company

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