This is a follow-up to my last post on Community Matters. Without repeating the entire post, here is the short version – on Monday at the Board of Supervisors meeting, the township manager Mimi Gleason presented the 2012 preliminary budget including a power point overview of the budget. Copies of the preliminary budget and the township manager’s 4-page budget summary were available at the meeting and online. Included in the budget draft was a 6.9% millage real estate increase.
In his review of the preliminary budget, former township supervisor John Petersen found multiple mathematical errors in Gleason’s summary report. On Tuesday, Petersen sent several emails to Gleason detailing the mistakes. I was copied on all the emails as was resident Ray Clarke and township supervisor John DiBuonaventuro. Before writing my last post on Community Matters, I double-checked the budget summary numbers as did Ray Clarke and we agreed with John that errors were contained in both the revenue and expenditure summary tables. The errors when applied to the budget narrative further compounded the problems in the summary information,
With declining revenues and increasing costs of our current economic climate, it is more important than ever to account for every dollar. As a taxpayer, I want to feel confident in our local government. Beyond the troubling math errors, there was no response to any of John Petersen’s emails; absolutely no acknowledgement to him (or Ray Clarke or myself) from the township manager.
Our supervisors talk about the importance of communication to our residents, so what does this lack of response say? A resident takes the time to do an analysis of the preliminary budget and is not afforded the courtesy of a response. In addition to Petersen’s efforts, Clarke also reviewed the budget materials and reached a similar conclusion as to the errors. As residents and taxpayers in this community, do we not matter?
Here is another concerning point. Petersen, Clarke and I live in the western part of the township, in District 3 – Supervisor DiBuonaventuro serves this district (which explains why he was copied on the emails from Petersen to Gleason). DiBuonaventuro ran unopposed in last week’s election and was re-elected to the Board of Supervisors for a second 4-year term. During the early years of his first term, residents often remarked about DiBuonaventuro’s strong constituent service and quick resident response. The Petersen, Clarke and Benson families are all constituents in his voting district yet we received no email response or phone call in regards to this serious situation.
This got me thinking – if there is no acknowledgement from the township manager or response from our district supervisor, what does this really say about our local government. The supervisors received the budget information in their packets the week before the meeting so there was time to review the summary.
The township’s Finance Committee (supervisors DiBuonaventuro, Paul Olson and Phil Donahue) had been working with the township staff on the budget so it is expected they reviewed the preliminary budget before it was sent to the other supervisors.
If Gleason and DiBuonaventuro choose not to respond to the citizens, I then question if either of them bothered to advise BOS chair Bob Lamina of the errors in the budget summary. If the other supervisors were not told of the citizen concerns, how would they know there were mistakes in the budget summary – by reading Community Matters, TE Patch or the Main Line Media News?
This is not intended as some kind of ‘gotcha’ moment against the township staff or supervisors! We all make mistakes. Rather to ask where the respect is for the citizen who takes time to review the budget, sends emails and receives no response?
I want assurances from our elected officials that they are ‘watching the store’ for all the residents of this community. DiBuonaventuro should have responded with an email or phone call to tell us he appreciated the seriousness of the situation, and to assure us that, if warranted, the math errors would be corrected. Given that Supervisor DiBuonaventuro is a member of the township’s Finance Committee, our district supervisor and someone who repeatedly speaks from the dais on the importance of ‘due diligence’, I am disappointed.
Somehow, it seems we have lost our way. Township staff and elected officials – don’t you care about the residents of this community and doing what’s right?