Depending on where residents live in Tredyffrin Township, your fire and emergency medical services is provided by one of three fire companies – Radnor, Berwyn or Paoli.
In their 2015 budget presentation to the supervisors of Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships, the Berwyn Fire Company asked for $50K in extra funding from each township to fill staffing coverage gaps. Citing an increase in service calls, the fire company asked for the additional contribution to hire a full-time employee to ensure adequate staffing levels. According to the fire company, the requested funding is to address problems with simultaneous EMS incidents and for lower volunteer turnout situations for fire and EMS calls. (Click here for Berwyn Fire Company’s budget presentation).
The Easttown Board of Supervisors heard Berwyn’s appeal and delivered the additional $50K funding in their proposed 2015 budget for the fire company. Actually, the Easttown supervisors took it a step further than requested – the township officials are looking at ways to provide ongoing sustainable funding to allow the Berwyn Fire Company to better plan for future needs.
Unfortunately, for the Berwyn Fire Company, the elected officials of Tredyffrin Township did not respond similarly to their funding request as the Easttown Township supervisors. Tredyffrin Township’s preliminary 2015 budget indicates an increase of $5,670 in funding to the Berwyn Fire Company, falling far short of the fire company’s $50,000 request. Interestingly, Paoli Fire Company receives $2,700 additional funding for 2015 whereas Radnor Fire Company is slated to receive no increase in funding from Tredyffrin Township. It should be noted that Radnor Fire Company receives an annual contribution of only $23,700 from Tredyffrin Township, … yet, Radnor Fire Company is the primary Fire/EMS provider to the Panhandle residents of Tredyffrin Township.
For the sake of fairness, and to avoid ill will among the three fire companies, it would seem that each service provider should receive a comparable annual percentage increase in funding.
In their 2015 budget presentation, Berwyn Fire Company detailed their goals and needs, which include:
• Recruitment and retention of volunteers,
• Construction of a new fire station to replace the current 1929 building,
• Possible construction of a sub-station to better service Chesterbrook and Glenhardie areas of township and
• Need to ensure adequate paid staffing around the clock.
The Berwyn Fire Company makes the case on their website, (www.berwynfireco.org) that without the fire company volunteers, it would cost Tredyffrin and Easttown taxpayers, “an estimated $1.8 million in salaries and benefits” to staff just one fire engine and one ambulance around the clock. Plus, this $1.8 million figure “does not include building, apparatus, operating and other costs associated with operating a fully paid fire/EMS department.” To date in 2014, the Berwyn Fire Company has responded to 845 fire calls and 2,045 emergency service calls.
The Berwyn Fire Company is nationally recognized for its high standard of service and professionalism. See information below from the Commonwealth’s Fire Commissioner regarding Berwyn Fire Company:
In their budget presentations to Tredyffrin and Easttown supervisors, in addition to increased call volume, Berwyn Fire Company cited increase in residential structures, increase in commercial structures, and increase in volunteer and paid staffing needs, need for fire inspection, fire and life-safety planning needs as additional funding requirements. Although the community is glad to see new development and redevelopment projects, it should be acknowledged that these new projects increase pressure on the fire companies to meet the needs.
Case in point – the construction of the much-debated assisted living project, Daylesford Crossing on Route 30 in Daylesford is well underway. The 78-unit personal care apartments and specialized dementia care suites is set to open in the summer. Berwyn Fire Company will be responsible for all the advanced life support calls at Daylesford Crossing. (Paoli Fire Company will respond to the fire calls).
To show support for the Berwyn Fire Company and their request for additional funding to ensure adequate staffing levels for fire and EMS responses, please consider contacting Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer, you can contact the supervisors individually at:
• Michael C. Heaberg, Chairperson email@example.com
• Kristen M. Mayock, Vice-Chairperson firstname.lastname@example.org
• Paul Olson, District 1 Supervisor email@example.com
• Evelyn ‘EJ’ Richter, District 2 Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org
• John P. DiBuonaventuro, District 3 Supervisor email@example.com
• Murph Wysocki, At-Large Supervisor firstname.lastname@example.org
• Mark Freed, At-Large Supervisor email@example.com
For further information about Berwyn Fire Company, and to find out how you can help, please contact Fire Chief Eamon Brazunas at firstname.lastname@example.org or Fire Company President, Nam Truong at email@example.com.
There’s still time for an adjustment in Tredyffrin Township’s contribution to Berwyn Fire Company — the supervisors will approve next year’s budget on Monday, December 15. (Click here to see Tredyffrin Township’s proposed 2015 budget).
Show your support for Berwyn Fire Company by contacting your elected officials and ask them to honor the fire company’s request for additional funding.
51 CommentsAdd a Comment
Thanks for posting about the Fire Company needs. I think that it’s important that the community engage in a straightforward discussion about funding our fire and emergency services.
The model that we have, like many other services enjoyed by Tredyffrin residents, relies on volunteers for much of its resources. It seems to me that many constituencies and participants benefit from this model, and so the challenge becomes one of funding those parts of the service that volunteers can not provide. The base case, for now, is that the base funding model does not change and so the Fire Company is looking for an increase in the Township contribution to meet an increase in four expense categories totaling $106,000 (if I have analyzed the few numbers correctly), equal to over 6% of total annual expenses. However, the Fire Company presentation gives no detailed historical and projected expense breakdown that ties to these numbers, nor provides a specific rationale for the many “needs”, and indeed raises more questions than it answers. I am not surprised that the Township was hesitant to fully fund the request.
The questions have doubtless been addressed in the conversations with the Township and on other forums, but if residents are to be mobilized, they may need the Fire Company presentation to be supplemented with a coherent and concise package of answers to topics such as:
– Can we annualize the 2014 call volumes to identify the trends, or is the pattern seasonal? If 2014 does show an increase after three flat years, particularly in fire calls, what are the reasons (based on analysis of the actual calls)?
– What is the current staffing pattern, what are the “gaps” that have been identified, and when do they occur? Were these gaps new in 2014? What is the physical impact? What is the specific proposal to address the gaps, and were other options considered?
– The second biggest cost category is “service delivery”, $207,000, and it is projected to increase by $37,000 in 2015. What does that category consist of, and why the increase?
– Vehicle costs are projected to increase $10,000, but residents are experiencing a substantial decrease in gas costs. What other forces (maintenance, etc.) are driving the increase and why?
– What is the change from 2014 Actual to 2015 Budget in the expense categories other than the ones listed and are there opportunities for efficiencies?
– On the revenue front, why are ALS revenues declining? Is there reimbursement pressure? If so, what actions are possible? What percentage of EMS costs is from ALS? What percentage of EMS costs is recovered from insurers or other agencies? If less than 100%, what are the opportunities to recover the balance?
– What is the dollar-weighted average life of the $2.7 million capital investment in vehicles, and how does the annual Township capital contribution of $93,335 (plus Easttown’s contribution) compare to the annualized cost thus calculated?
Doubtless others know much more about these and other relevant topics than I do, and certainly I hope the Township did its due diligence. It’s not clear that there is the time or place for a full public airing of the issues before the adoption of the budget, though.
The Berwyn Fire Company appreciates your comments and questions regarding this important issue. As you probably know, we have spent a lot of time over the years attempting to get both Townships to provide a sustainable funding solution for the fire companies. With respect to the presentation posted online, please keep in mind there is only so much data we can put into a twenty-minute public budget presentation. In addition to this one presentation you saw, we do present publically to both Townships regularly and have had numerous meetings and discussions with Finance Committee, the Supervisors and the Township Staff throughout the year. In addition to our annual budgets and financial reports, the Townships also receive a copy of our audited financials. Our financial information is no secret to the Township and we pride ourselves on being accessible to Township officials to answer any questions or concerns
Your questions are valid, and we will attempt to answer some right here. But before we dig deep into the details it might benefit you and others to step back and look at this from a higher level. The volunteers of the fire companies that protect the local townships SAVE the taxpayers MILLIONS of dollars ANNUALLY. Without stable and predictable funding from the municipalities, the fire companies AND the significant savings currently enjoyed by the taxpayers are in jeopardy. Only 20% of our total budget is derived from the municipal funding provided by Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships combined. Out of absolute necessity we continually search for increased efficiencies and ways to reduce costs. Our mission is to deliver a service. Fire and EMS services do not exist without supplemental funding. As you know, this model is neither unique to Berwyn, nor Tredyffrin. This is how Fire and EMS is provided nationally. You probably also realize the critical importance of the services being provided; this is truly life and death. Time, training, staff, equipment and funding are a necessity in order to effectively fulfill the mission. We do welcome new ideas and new perspective in this budget and funding discussion, but frankly very few of the ideas or perspective offered are really new. Nevertheless we are happy to have an open dialogue on any of these issues.
We have provided answers to your questions below (in order):
1.) Our call volume data is posted to our website on the Front Page dating back to 2005. As we have stated at several public meetings in 2014, we had increased call volume this year due to a harsh winter season. However, we were fortunate and had a relatively quiet spring and summer with minimal weather related activity. Overall there is an increasing call volume trend and that is expected to continue as more parcels in the community are developed, or redeveloped more densely.
2.) We are considered a combination department by definition. This means we have volunteers and paid staff. As stated in the public meeting on November 17, 2014 we have a strong volunteer pool we draw from to respond to fire/EMS responses around the clock. We also employ career staff to ensure our response objectives are met during periods that we expect high call volume or low volunteer availability. Staffing needs are only predictable to a certain degree. In order to best forecast the demand we continually do detailed analysis of response times, call volume, staffing reports, etc. Neither the challenge nor the solution are unique to Berwyn, but rather exists across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation. The impact of insufficient staffing issue is obvious: it is a delayed response, which is clearly problematic.
3.) Service Delivery encompasses equipment, supplies, repairs and equipment maintenance costs; these are increasing based upon past trends and future objectives.
4.) Vehicle costs do include maintenance and repairs, as you have correctly noted. These costs continue to rise. A few factors driving the increase are additional call volume; more expensive vehicles generally have more expensive repairs, harsh weather, etc. The budget is based upon historical data and hypothetical projections.
5.) We operate a lean budget, and as a result of our financial performance and prudence over the past decade we will be able to make a significant investment in early 2015 to start our capital campaign for a new fire station which is desperately needed. Our internal departmental budget managers have been diligent about careful spending and have built the foundation for a contribution to be allocated to a new building.
6.) The EMS Billing issue has been brought up numerous times over the past few years, specifically talking about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its impact on fire companies who provide EMS. There is no other way to change what is happening, unless state and federal legislators change the law to be more EMS friendly. We bill a patient in accordance with state and federal law and follow through with a collections process when the situation dictates. This is our primary source of revenue and goes towards the cost of having 24x7x365 paid staffing. However, it does not cover the total cost of having paid staff.
7.) The $2.7M capital figure for apparatus was provided to give the Township and public a better idea of the total cost of our fleet. It hopefully puts into perspective how expensive these purchases are when they arise. This figure represents the actual purchase price, not including the equipment that has to be put on the truck. Both Townships coordinate on an annual capital contribution to help fund apparatus purchases following a request and joint study conducted by both Townships in October 2008. This money is allocated into a vehicle replacement fund and is not used for any other purpose. More detail is certainly available regarding the annualized fleet costs and the replacement schedule. Suffice it to say that the capital contribution from the townships is important but by no means covers the full costs of maintaining and replacing the fleet through it’s life-cycle.
To summarize, this is NOT an 11th hour request to Tredyffrin Township. This is best evidenced by Easttown Township’s decision to support our funding request. This year, we started the budget conversation with the finance committee in July. The information, and the need for stable and predictable funding has been clear to the township staff and Supervisors for months, years, and even decades. We have provided, and will continue to provide ANY data points, financial or otherwise that the municipalities might require in order to implement our funding requests and increases. If there is any perceived lack of clarity among staff and Supervisors at Tredyffrin they can request more information at any time throughout this process. We have always been open and available and have not left any questions from the Township unanswered.
The reason this discussion is coming up so late in the budget cycle is that we had fully expected by the dialogue to date (and lack of follow-up questions) that our additional funding request would be granted, and only at the December 1st meeting did we realize that it appears that our funding increase may not be granted. We know that the funds exist, we have demonstrated the need, and we have responded to every query from the township.
We do appreciate your thoughtful questions, and are thankful that there are many community members like you and Pattye who are engaged in the budget process and Township management. It is very clear to us that we need the community to support our mission, be comfortable with our process, and advocate for our funding. This is paramount in order for us to effectively continue our critically important and valuable work.
If you have any further questions please feel free to reach out to Nam Truong, President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Eamon Brazunas, Fire Chief, at email@example.com. You can also call 610-644-6050 ext. 11.
Many thanks for the thorough response. Unfortunately I don’t think that the data I’d like will be easy to summarize and Pattye’s blog is probably not the right forum for spreadsheets!
I will offer one general thought, fresh from tonight’s TESD Finance Committee budget meeting. This prepared the ground for the Board to vote on a preliminary budget that paves the way for the maximum allowable tax increase next year, raising $3.5 million, $200 per median TE homeowner. That’s an increase of 35% over the last decade, $1300 extra per year from that homeowner. But some public questioning shows that the budget includes say $2 million of more-or-less nice-to-have requests and over-estimates: 15.5 additional FTE ($1.2 million), $300,000 of additional debt service, worse case estimates for transportation ($150,000) and no allowance for salary “breakage” which occurs every year and which in 2014/15 is worth an unbudgeted $600,000. There is no allowance for the actual increase in assessed value (and thus revenue), which is baked into the Township budget. And they want to borrow $18 million for capital expenditures when there is $32 million in the Fund Balance earning no interest, just because that’s the way it’s always been done.
Sorry to go so OT (hopefully Pattye will start a separate thread), but the point is that taxpayers are asked at every turn to come up with hard dollars to meet softly justified needs. We hear the common refrain: taxes are low, services are cheap, so you can afford an increase. Well, housing costs are a mix of capital (mortgage) and operating (taxes). You can’t keep hiking one without affecting the other and affecting the value choices people make when they live here.
So, indeed all government should be subject to scrutiny and asked to make a compelling case with facts and data. It’s really hard for the Fire Company, of course, because the Townships provide 25% of the revenue, and if they are relied on to solely fund a 5% increase in total expenditures, that translates to a 20% increase in contribution. That’s always (under the current model) going to be tough arithmetic.
“softly justified needs” ???? That is a foolish statement and a misrepresentation of the facts. According to the fire department, this need for increased funding (and FAR larger needs) have been explained both publicly and in private meetings with township staff and supervisors.
I think you need to accept that leaders of departments (throughout the township and school district) will make appropriate decisions and recommendations that sometimes you simply might not understand. That is why they are in these positions, because they have a level of experience and expertise that justifies community trust.
Elected officials should embrace citizens, welcome their input and never be surprised or dismayed when citizens question their decisions.
They have every right to question everything government does, whether elected officials agree or disagree.
Government belongs to the governed, not to the governing.
Government is always better when citizens hold it accountable
It is the public’s money and citizens have every right to know how their money is being spent.
In fact, they have every right to have a say in how their money is being spent.
When citizens speak, they should have every expectation of being truly listened to and being respected.
If officials are dismissive, or even laugh at them, that is not only disrespectful, it is poor public service.
Public service is about serving the public.
“that’s the way it’s always been done.”
While you bite your tongue or fume at that response consider this Top Ten List of the Real Meanings of “But we’ve always done it this way”.
What might people be thinking as they state that lame defense?
10. I haven’t got a clue why we do it this way and I never thought about it before. But I’m not going to admit that to you.
9. Your question is a good one. But I never asked it and wish that I had. As much as your question disturbs me I won’t admit that out loud.
8. You’re new aren’t you? You new people just want to change our perfect little world. We like it the way it is. We can outlast you.
7. How dare you question the wisdom of your predecessors? It was good enough for them why isn’t it good enough for you? Have you no blind respect and subservience to those who were here before you?
6. You clearly don’t know how we do things around here. It has nothing to do with logic, fairness and openness.
5. If you are a team player you will go along with us without asking embarrassing questions like that.
4. We don’t like questions like that. And right now I don’t like you for asking it.
3. Perhaps you believe that you have the right to ask questions… but you’re wrong. Shut up and go with the flow.
2. It’s working the way it is. Leave it alone. Can we go now?
1. Despite what you were told, this is not a democracy. We don’t care about your ideas. Just do what you are told to do. And do it the way that you are told to do it.
When you try to change things you will hear the response “But we’ve always done it this way.” Don’t hate people for that response. Consider the list above to understand what they might be feeling. Recognize that your questions might be disturbing them and they might not be ready to give you an honest and thoughtful answer.
“But we’ve always done it this way” is likely the response of a person who feels threatened.
When faced with this challenge you will need to find a less threatening way to make change. The other alternative is to expose the status quo as the bigger threat.
© George Torok is a Creativity Catalyst.
Ray: All due respect Ray but you are in no position to determine whether a need is softly or firmly justified. The respective fire companies do a good job of articulating their needs and are extremely transparent.
Not so Fast: To suggest we should just defer to the elected officials is not sound advice. JD is the only fire service member up there. What has he said. Mike Heaberg has never been much of a fan of fire funding.
I’ll go back to the old manpower studies the township mandated. They were not needed and were a waste of $. The only time the BOS ever commissions a report is when they want something to back up their desired conclusion.
The fire service is highly technical and it is one of those things where people are entitled to their own opinion, but only a subset of everyone has an informed opinion.
Also, how many of you donate? If you don’t, then shame on you.
Back to Ray, the problem I see with all of your questions is the tactical focus on trees at the expense of the forest. Honestly, I think the school board has largely tuned you out.
Seriously, if you want to get into some some excruciating detail, then please, offer your services to the school board or run for the board. Honestly, I’m a bit sick and tired of endless debates over things like pens, pencils and paperclips.
SL – Thank you for your posts. They are absolutely on target. The challenge is to follow Mr Torok’s advice when you are met with:
BE QUIET. WE ARE TRYING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION HERE.
Sadly, the words to Mr. Clark also came with a ‘pounding of the fist’ by one of the school board members at last night’s TESD Finance Committee meeting. Residents are always told that the ‘real work’ of the District goes on at the committee level … it also means that the cameras don’t roll at committee meetings! Shouldn’t we expect respect from our elected officials?
That is, without a doubt, inappropriate and unacceptable behavior by the School Board towards a tax paying citizen who should be listened to and respected, not intimidated and bullied into silence and submission.
I attended a School Board meeting last year where a citizen stood before the Board and calmly, rationally, and with logic and reason explained in great detail how Health insurance could be granted to the aides and Paras with no cost to the tax payer. She was rudely and abruptly interrupted, with a bullying and intimidating tone from the School Solicitor, Ken Roos. (who, along with administrators receives raises every year) She was clearly rattled and intimidated but kept her composure to finish her well thought out and informative idea.
I thought for sure, Board Members would come to her aid, at least scold the Solicitor for his outburst but just the opposite happened. Long time Board Member Karen Crunkshank, reminded the audience to be respectful to the Solicitor. She then thanked the Solicitor and Administrators for what a great job they do. It was truly an eye opening (open eyes) and revealing moment for me. It was when I truly understood exactly how things work.
Thank-you for your great service to tax payers, Ray. I appreciate you going to meetings and I especially appreciate your analysis and summaries. Please do not be bullied or intimidated into submission, oppression or silence.
We have a right to know how our money is spent and we have a right to have a say in how our money is spent.
We operate a lean budget, and as a result of our financial performance and prudence over the past decade we will be able to make a significant investment in early 2015 to start our capital campaign for a new fire station which is desperately needed. Our internal departmental budget managers have been diligent about careful spending and have built the foundation for a contribution to be allocated to a new building.
Thank-you for your service. I truly appreciate your sacrifice and hard work in keeping community members safe and out of harms way.
Ray and every tax payer who contributes to every service in this township is entitled to have a say in how tax dollars are allocated.
Berwyn Fire Company states there is an allocation of funds for a new building. Could you please explain. This comment reminds me of the School Board when they present to the public a need for tax increases when year after year there is a surplus and we have tens of millions of dollars just sitting in a surplus for God (and the administrators and school Board) only knows what.
And your comment to Ray about “endless debates over things like “pencils, pens and paperclips.” Honestly, sir or ma’am, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? The School District Business Manager has complete control over 119 million dollars of tax payer money. We have a tax paying right to understand what money is being spent and how it is being spent.
I forgot to mention that I took action after the Board meeting by attending the very first Public Information Committee meeting created by Scott Dorsey. I can’t remember all Board Members who were in attendance but rest assured there were quite a few, and administrators as well. I directly addressed Kevin Buraks (then President) about my concern. He told me that he spoke to the citizen after the meeting and that she was fine and didn’t mind being spoken to in that manner. I wasn’t there. I didn’t hear his conversation with the citizen, but I find that report hard to believe. Even if she said she was fine with it, I am concerned that our standards for decency and respect to tax paying citizens are that low.
It is very important for citizens to attend meetings and not be afraid of voicing your opinion. If you can’t do that or are too intimidated by the ruling party, the best way to exercise your power is to get out and vote. Be part of the Silent Majority. Tell all your friends. The same thing can happen next November that happened last November.
Radnor ethics complaint filed against Commissioner Nagle over ‘Someone shoot you’ remark
Published: Friday, January 02, 2015
By Linda Stein
@lsteinreporter on Twitter
Radnor >> For the third time in less than a year an ethics complaint has been filed against a Radnor Township commissioner, this time Ward 5 Commissioner John Nagle.
This latest complaint originated from a Dec. 8 Board of Commissioners meeting when Daniel Sherry Jr. was addressing the BOC, Nagle uttered the phrase “Someone shoot you.”
Sherry, a resident and lawyer, filed a formal ethics complaint against Nagle on Dec. 30, citing the township’s code which says commissioners are “bound to observe in their official acts ‘the highest standards of morality’ and must likewise keep ‘above reproach’ their conduct in both official and private affairs.”
During the televised meeting, Sherry was questioning how much the Radnor Conservancy had pledged toward the $11.6 million purchase of 71 acres of the Ardrossan Farm estate for township open space because the conservancy has long advocated its purchase. Board President Elaine Schaefer told Sherry the conservancy had pledged less than $100,000.
Nagle interrupted Sherry and Sherry said that Nagle had been a president of the conservancy. At that point, Nagle said, “Someone shoot you.”
As Sherry then asked Schaefer to rebuke Nagle, township solicitor John Rice told Sherry to finish his remarks. Schaefer said that she didn’t hear Nagle’s outburst.
At a subsequent meeting, Nagle apologized and also sent Sherry a written apology.
“I would like to express my sincere apologies to Dan Sherry for my outburst at the last Commissioners meeting,” Nagle said in his apology. “What I said was a result of frustration and was not directed towards anyone in particular. I intend to work on my self-control in the future and to make a concerted effort to increase the civil discourse among the Board of Commissioners and with township residents. I am firmly committed to assuring that the public has an ample opportunity to speak on matters before the board.”
Nagle, however, declined to comment for this article. Rice could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sherry also requested that Rice recuse himself from handling this complaint since he “not only witnessed the complained of misconduct, but also interjected and attempted to stop continued discussion of Commissioner Nagle’s indefensible statement.”
Meanwhile, earlier this year, other unrelated matters led to ethics complaints being filed against commissioners William Spingler and James Higgins. The Ethics Board dismissed those complaints, which are now pending on appeal.
Asked why he decided to file an ethics complaint given that the Ethics Board had quashed the two previous complaints, Sherry said, “As to why I submitted the Complaint to Ethics Board, I must preface by stating that the current makeup of the Ethics Board has demonstrated reliable silliness. They dismissed the Spingler and Higgins complaints even though there was a mountain of credible evidence…
“So the Ethics Board’s credibility is presently about as thin as tissue paper. This time, the misconduct actually appears on video camera, and the offender has actually admitted that his outburst was offensive enough to issue an apology. Thus, it’s important for this township to see whether the members of the Ethics Board, this third time around, will actually take their role seriously and comply with the Charter and code. If the Nagle complaint gets dismissed –a proverbial ‘strike three’– then the citizens of the township can safely assume that the Ethics Board is a sham organization that will stop at nothing to whitewash credible accusations. And that’s important for citizens to know moving forward.
When asked why he didn’t accept Nagle’s apology, Sherry said, “I stated at the last BOC meeting, an apology has to acknowledge what actually happened. Nagle stated in his written ‘apology’ that his ‘outburst’ was not directed to anyone in particular.”
In addition an apology doesn’t change the fact that “Radnor’s code was violated,” he said.
“This has a chilling effect on public participation at meetings, and needs to be addressed as an ethics matter,” Sherry said. “An ‘I’m sorry’ is not a panacea. Rather, the solution is following the code and Charter – an investigation by the Ethics Board, followed by an adjudication of the issue by the Board of Commissioners.”
Asked why the township should spend money to hire an outside lawyer if Rice recuses himself, Sherry said that Rice has an obvious conflict in this case.
“I can think of very few issues that are more deserving of money than preserving openness and decorum at governmental public meetings,” he said.
I live in the Glenhardie section of the township, close to the Richter site. In the case of emergencies, I am very concerned about the travel time for Berwyn Fire Company calls. If the fire company says that they are understaffed and need to hire an additional person to fill the fill the gap for coverage, then I say the township should give them what they are asking for. Fire Chief Eamon Brazunas has been an open book on the finances, so im not sure what else he can do except to get the public involved. The BOS votes on the budget in one week and unless the residents do something, the fire company is not going to get the $50 thousand dollars they asked for.
Imagine how fiscally responsible taxpayer-funded entities would be if they were all subjected to Ray’s probing questions….
It seems clear to me that Berwyn Fire Company’s stated need to provide reliable and adequate coverage during the hours when few volunteers are available is reason enough for our supervisors to give serious consideration to the $50k request. BFC is the only provider of advanced life support in the Township. Their members have made exemplary efforts to supplement their income with fundraising activities. They have made due with an outdated, under-sized firehouse. The level of dedication among their members is amazing-especially given that many in our community seem to take their service for granted and assume the few per capita tax dollars allocated to the fire companies is enough.
Our community is growing – more residents, more workers in Tredyffrin during the day, a new assisted living facility in Daylesford/ Paoli. Are you comfortable with a patchwork of volunteers and part-time people manning the fire house during the work day when there are fewer people available to respond to emergencies? I’m not.
I give Easttown supervisors credit for considering their residents’ safety a high enough priority to fund half the amount needed to hire a full-time person. Now Tredyffrin’s BOS needs to do the same.
I looked through Tredyffrin’s proposed 2015 budget. There are a number of increases in next year’s budget, including the hiring of a full-time handyman for the Public Works Department. I believe BFC is at least as deserving of a full-time employee.
The money is there. I would like to see the our supervisors change their minds and share the cost of funding a needed employee. I will be writing to tell them so, and I urge everyone who agrees to do the same!
Thank you for your support T/E Parent. As a point of clarification, Advanced Life Support (ALS) services are provided by three (3) fire companies in Tredyffrin Township. The majority is provided by Berwyn Fire Company in the center region of the Township. Radnor Fire Company provides ALS in the far eastern section of the Township, that includes the ‘Panhandle’, while the Malvern Fire Company provides coverage in the western area. ALS is Paramedic level patient care.
There are also three (3) Basic Life Support (BLS) services in Tredyffrin Township. This includes the Berwyn Fire Company, Paoli Fire Company and Radnor Fire Company. BLS is EMT level patient care.
In Easttown Township, Berwyn Fire Company provides all of the ALS coverage. Berwyn Fire Company and Paoli Fire Company are the two (2) service providers of BLS in the Township.
The team effort that is performed by the fire companies in T-E on a daily basis is special and we take great pride in being a part of it!
Ray bends the school board’s ear constantly. How fiscally responsible is the TESD?
The fire service is underfunded. That has been known for quite some time. Also, don’t forget the Paoli FD and Radnor. Radnor provides some services as well.
Finally, don’t forget who sits as chairman. It’s Mike Heaberg who is no fan of the fire service
what does that mean Heaberg is no fan of the fire service? Does he want to get rid of them entirely? Does he want a different business model? Your statement is very vague.. How can you not be a fan of the fire service>>>?
I don’t know the legalities, but living here in Georgia, we pay a fee to the local First Responders, based on the value of our house. There is a requirement that you pay that fee annually before your insurance company issues your homeowners policy.
I have always wondered why the fire companies do not simply charge the townships for the services they provide? Why is it charity from the Supervisors to a needed service? They fund the police out of there budget. Why do they not fund fire protection and ambulance services in the same way? Is this just “we don’t do it that way” or is there a legal reason?
For a long time, local government been content to fund volunteer fire companies with a relative pittance without paying much attention to how they operate or the challenges they face, absent a scandal. They would be well advised to start paying attention.
Due to increasing regulation from state and federal officials, the time required for new members to obtain the required training and certifications is substantial and is a major barrier to entry. On-going training to maintain those certifications is also intense and many fire companies lose members after a few years as those members no longer have the time to spend due to career and family commitments. Lack of volunteerism results in an increased reliance on paid staff who, sensing their growing clout and envious of the 6 figure salaries and gold plated benefits of municipal police, are unionizing in firehouses across Chester County and SE PA which only increases costs for the fire companies. Meanwhile, state and local officials merely play lip service to meaningful incentives to retain and attract well qualified and capable volunteers.
Firehouses, some of which were established over 100+ years ago, follow Rt. 30 which was the center of development back then and as a result, emergency equipment is not necessarily well positioned in areas that have witnessed astonishing growth over the past several decades.
Add in decreased reimbursements for EMS transports for medicare patients due to sequestration, payments for ALS type calls which do not nearly reflect the cost of providing the service, private insurance companies that take 4-6 months to pay bills and increased “bad debt” from new ACA compliant health care plans that feature high deductibles which means the ambulance ride is the patient’s responsibility and the first bill not to be paid.
Do we ask the police to fund themselves with revenue from ticket writing, pancake breakfasts and turkey raffles?
Although I do not recall discussing office supplies (unless that $18 million bond issue is for a very expensive stapler), I must say that I got some good advice from my Dad growing up in post-war South London: “Take care of the pennies and the Pounds will take care of themselves.”
But I want to come back to Emergency Services funding. I have some experience of Berkeley County West Virginia, where there are annual fees for Fire and Ambulance Services. The local volunteer fire department also conducts similar fund-raising drives to those we see here. The fee is a modest amount, and far as I know the same for every household. A fee such as this might ensure adequate funding levels and a fair distribution of the burden across more than just those that voluntarily contribute. Perhaps resources should be shifted to changing the model rather than trying to patch something that is broken?
Ray, I think that is exactly what Easttown Township is looking to do — a dedicated source of funding going forward for the fire company. it is my understanding, that Easttown is discussing increasing the millage rate to provide direct ongoing funding. Is this something that Tredyffrin Twp BOS should consider?
Pattye, I was thinking more of a specific fee, like today’s sewer fee.
Suppose it was $40 per household (of which 11,000 in Tredyffrin) plus $10 per commercial employee (of which 35,000 in Tredyffrin (I think?), paid by the employer), that generates ~$800,000 per year for all three companies.
Current township contribution $439,000, plus fundraising say $200,000 from Tredyffrin sources to all three (making some very broad assumptions based on Berwyn’s revenue analysis) equals $639,000.
Assume some extra administration overhead from being part of the Township’s budgetary systems, you’re still over $100,000 ahead, and the only people paying more are those that are not making a fair share contribution today.
Going forward, the emergency services fee is set and treated just like the sewer fee.
This is just a numbers exercise. I don’t know if there are legal, regulatory, taxation rules that would prevent an approach like this. Georgia and West Virginia at least have apparently figured those out, though.
Ah, a flat fee rather than a millage rate which could fluctuate, making it easier for the fire companies to plan. I wonder if this approach would take a referendum on the ballot?
Don’t just focus on the households. Keep in mind the massive amount of commercial property. A modest millage rate would equally collect money for this based on the assessed value of the property. Protecting a 1 story rancher must be different then protecting a 4 story office building. Every time Paoli Fire Company gives their report at the township meeting, they talk about the dismal % of businesses that respond to their fund drive. It would seem that they get a free ride then.
I believe that a millage is also dedicated money that once collected may not be used for anything else. Fees are not treated the same way.
CJ – My notion of a fee per employee is one idea for getting commercial enterprises to contribute proportionately.
Isnt the TT supervisor John D. a volunteer firefighter at Paoli? At least he must be supporting the xtra funding for Berwyn, right?
I dont know if DiBonaventuro is still with Paoli Fire Company or not, something tells me that he may have retired his firefighter helmet. Not sure which supervisors are supporting Berwyn Fire Company’s additional funding request. Because it is a public safety issue, I would hope that they all are supporting it. Tredyffrin Twp has a $16 million fund balance that is taxpayer money — and my vote is for $50K of it to go to Berwyn Fire Company to meet their funding gap.
What reason does the Tredyffrin Twp give for not meeting the funding gap for the Berwyn Fire Co.?
That’s the million dollar question (or in this case the fifty thousand dollar question) and I don’t have an answer. The same financial presentation was made to Easttown BOS as was made to Tredyffrin BOS. The service call volume has gone up and the situation has resulted in a staffing gap, requiring the void to be filled by a new full-time hire. The Berwyn Fire Company took this need to the supervisors of Easttown and Tredyffrin months ago as both municipalities were working on their budgets. For the 2015 budget, Easttown responded with their increased contribution of $50K and Tredyffrin responded with $5K increase to Berwyn FC. Tredyffrin Township will approve the 2015 budget on Monday, December 15th — I’m hopeful that the supervisors will change their minds and meet the financial request of Berwyn.
What is Berwyn’s shortfall? 50K? What is the distribution of calls between Easttown and Tredyffrin? Shouldn’t the funding follow that?
What is the nature of the shortfall? Lower donations? Increased costs? New equipment needs? Something else or a combination of these things? What is the accounting?
I don’t see anything on that. Seems to me you have to have some basis for the request before the request can be considered. That has to be hard numbers that come from an accounting.
You can’t just give them 50K based on just the request. There has to be a basis for it.
My support is based on the budget presentation that Berwyn Fire Company provided at Tredyffrin Township’s November 17 Board of Supervisors meeting. Here’s a link: http://www.slideshare.net/ebrazunas/berwyn-fire-company-tredyffrin-twp-easttown-twp-budget-presentations?redirected_from=save_on_embed
My takeaway from Berwyn Fire Company’s budget presentation is the basis of my support, as I stated above:
The request for $50K from Easttown and Tredyffrin Townships is not to fund new equipment, it is to hire a full-time person to adequately cover the increase in calls. It doesn’t matter how many firetrucks, EMS equipment, etc. etc. are sitting in the firehouse if there is no one there to answer the emergency calls when they come in. For public safety sake, there has to be around the clock coverage when the calls come in and according to Berwyn Fire Company, that coverage requires the hiring of a full-time person. I cannot imagine what it would cost the taxpayers of Tredyffrin or Easttown if we did not have the dedication of so many volunteers at Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor Fire Companies. As for the distribution of Berwyn calls between Easttown and Tredyffrin — that’s a good question and I do not recall the breakdown in the presentation. Perhaps, someone from Berwyn could respond.
So the total ask is 50K not 100K, right? Berwyn doesn’t serve each municipality equally. And, we seem to be forgetting Paoli FD in all of this. For the new assisted living center, Paoli FD is the closest department.
Several suggestions. First, the fire departments should consider using shared resources. I bet there is a lot of duplication between the two groups. I get the membership nature of each department. Still, this is 2014 and you have to look at every opportunity to get save money. More to this suggestion, both Berwyn and Paoli should join forces in their appeal efforts. There also may be better ways to subdivide the service areas.
Second, there has to be a mobilization effort that makes it clear to the BOS that this is an important issue. Pattye, you claimed it was good news that there was no tax increase. There were some comments that questioned that given the issues we see with infrastructure and the latest news regarding the sewer run off that resulted in a 100K+ fine. It would appear that added to that list should be this fire funding issue, which is not a new issue. This has been going on for years. All the time, the fire service has to have hat in hand and has to literally beg for money.
I brought up the matter of having facts and figures in order because that will always be the thing the BOS will pick on. This is especially true with Mike Heaberg who seems to always question the merit of any fire funding request. The presentation you cite is a good start.
Having a fire fee would likely need a referendum. My guess is given that next year is an election year, there won’t bre an appetite to suggest such a voter question. This would be akin to the EIT.
Reading some of the other comments, I don’t agree with Ray’s notion of all this community input on the fire funding. There are very few people that are educated enough to have a qualified opinion on the matter. The key is to look at comparable areas and departments and look at those funding levels. To the extent the ask deviates materially from that, it should be scrutinized.
Costs go up and approving things like the assisted living center (which by the way, looks different from what was approved) adds stress to the system which translates to higher costs.
There is the Local Services Tax (LST), which for a long time, the fire service never got their fair share. Lest anybody think there isn’t a funding source, there is and it is the LST. Perhaps the BOS should vote on whether 100% of the LST should be designated for the fire service. The BOS is empowered to designate how that $ is spent. Technically, it can go for infrastructure. However, there is already a public works budget. The fire service should have a more formal budget line item source.
There is also the BOS taxing authority. Again, not likely the BOS will approve any tax increases given the politics. The irony is that most are OK with an increase, so long as it goes for a good thing. In reality, we are under-taxed in this township. Look around at the problems that are mounting. Those costs will exponentially grow over time if not addressed.
Also, people should be donating to the fire service. Most don’t, and that is a shame.
Bottom line, there will need to be a greater level of support than this forum to make a difference. It’s a start, but it can’t end here.
Berwyn Fire Company asked Tredyffrin Township for $50K in additional funding.
Agree that there should be a greater level of support than this forum. As I said in the post, if the funding of the fire companies matters, you should contact your elected officials — I provided their contact information. If you have questions for Berwyn Fire Company, emails and phone number is also provided.
I believe community input is exactly what is needed. The more the better. And instead of looking at comparable departments and areas, (not sure exactly what you mean by that), we should think and analyze the situation ourselves, and come up with a reasonable, solution that serves the best interests of the community while meeting the needs of the fire department. There are more than enough smart, qualified citizens in this community who could do a great job.
Looking at comparable areas is exactly what got the school district in the financial mess it is in.
And consider Unionville Chadsford,. #1 in the state. If they looked at comparable areas, (TESD), their costs would rise significantly.
Shining Light – Yes, there nothing valuable to learn from outside of our community, we are the only ones who have these challenges, and the only ones who know how to solve them, and we do live in a bubble. Let’s reinvent the wheel. Unbelievable.
Ignoring the comparables for decades is exactly why we have these challenges in TE, and is why our firefighters (volunteers) spend unbelievable amounts of time fundraising and fighting for adequate municipal funding!
They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, and it is true that there isn’t really much art to the construct of your comment.
Using sarcasm with the intent to make me look foolish in the hopes you look more intelligent is not very clever.
Why have you chosen to attack the “art” of my comment rather than defend the statements you made? I think that speaks for itself.
Because my statements speak for themselves. I don’t have to defend them.
Yes, you do have to defend them. That’s the responsibility we have when we wish to convince others of the validity of our point.
Yes, your statements speak for themselves. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
How about a flat fee related to square footage of your house? $30/yr for a house under 1000 sq ft, $40 for 1000-1999, $50 for 2000-2999, etc. I’m sure the mansions in the townships would require more trucks and firefighters to respond than a small split level house.
Again–what is the law? WV and GA are hardly progressive states. I know many southern states require you to pay a fee or you dont get the service…GA has that solved by the property insurance companies requiring you to have a receipt for your protection service before they will insure you. It is a fee bas d on thenvalue of the property, which in TE would be the assessed value (which is also a game because the county doesnt reassess to market vLue when properties change hands).
Bottom line–the fire companies provide a service. They should be able to charge for it, but there must be some law that requires townships to contract for it??? So how come the decision of what to “pay” for the service is made by the townships?
What is the legal relationship?
Let’s talk about the fire funding for a second. I would hardly call Tredyffrin’s contribution increase this year substantial (relatively)….
I believe that Berwyn Fire Department approached the Board asking for $50,000 to help split the cost of an additional full timer. Easttown stepped up and not only provided that, they recognized the need to generate recurring financial funding for the fire department. They recognized that just because that because that was a substantial contribution to the fire department(which it was, for them), that they had been grossly underfunding them and proposed working towards a solution.
What did Tredyffrin do? They gave them less than 50% of what the Chief and President had asked them for and then that pompous Board Chair patted himself/themselves on the back for such a significant contribution, citing past years contributions. Just because the Board has been Godawful in the past about financially supporting them, doesn’t mean your pitiful contribution is a great thing. Pathetic.
That $20,000 they gave the Fire Department… Well, let’s see. How long did the fire chief and president work with the Township seeking more money? And I’m just talking about this instance. I’ve been a observant resident of this township to see these fire departments come to the board many times over the last 10-20 years and get continually rebuffed. Giving them fractions of what they requested and telling them to be thankful. But I digress. The fire department lobbied the board for months and got a fraction of what they asked for (after much heartburn and hand-wringing it would appear). But one of the next agendas on the budget was the HVAC system at the library and the discussion about the safety of it. They then voted after about 30 seconds of discussion (with no heartburn or apparent hand-wringing) to approve funds roughly equal to Berwyn’s increase for a STUDY. NOT A FIX. A STUDY. Seriously? When will thee board do the right thing and help fund these guys and gals the way they deserve. Take a look at other comparable townships and see what they do for their fire departments. I have a relative that volunteers at Radnor. I will say that our board should be ashamed (especially compared to what our neighbors provide for the Radnor Fire Department). I would much rather provide a small monetary tax that goes specifically to the fire departments (and not this shell game of the fire hydrant maintenance funding that the Junior Varsity accountant DiRocco tries to pass off as fire funding) than have to watch them always go before us with hat in hand when they should be going to training or enjoying time with their families. Our board should be embarrassed and we should be embarrassed for allowing them to get away with this.
Easttown rocks, there’s no doubt about it, but I was just wondering why the Fire Department needs $100,000 to employ someone to answer the phone. No offense to phone answerers but that’s a lot of money! Public sector pay has been rising at a rate much higher than private sector pay for quite some time. And throw in the gold standard healthcare and pension costs that public sector workers enjoy that private sector employees pay for yet do not enjoy themselves and it’s no wonder Township Boards and School Boards (well, some School Boards) are watching tax payer money closely.
Seriously??? Did you really just ask that question? That paragraph right there proves “Not So Fast’s” remark regarding your statements. It also proves the earlier remark about just anybody shouldn’t necessarily be on the decision committee to mull over whether these companies get more money or not.
I really hope that was an attempt at a sense of humor, otherwise that was one of the most ignorant (lack of knowledge-wise and rude) statements I’ve ever read regarding emergency services funding.
I don’t even know where to start to tear your moronic observation apart.
If you had a single fathom of an idea about employees and management, you would know that if they are requesting 100k for an additional employee, that new employee would not be getting a 100k/year salary. Hiring a new employee entails quite a bit more cost than just the wages. It entails the constant training that is needed to perform as a “phone answerer”. It requires costs associated with workers compensation and that “gold star insurance” you remark about. Uniforms. The list can go on.
I really hope that your post was satire, otherwise you are woefully unintelligent in these matters and really should excuse your self from this discussion and are proof of the old addage of better to keep your mouth shut and thought a fool than to open it and prove that you are one…
right. dont forget matching SS taxes.. so when I hire someone say at 17 dollars an hour, with everything you and I mentioned it can actually come to 23 dollars an hour, more or less depending on the level of benefits as well as taxes..
PHONE ANSWERER?!? You have got to be kidding! Is that meant to disparage the work and risk of the first responders, or do you truly have no understanding of the request by the fire company and the position they seek to fill??? That is a real question for you, no sarcasm, no art, just a question. Can you handle that?
Hiring a new employee entails quite a bit more cost than just the wages. It entails the constant training that is needed to perform as a “phone answerer”. It requires costs associated with workers compensation and that “gold star insurance” you remark about. Uniforms. The list can go on.
Yes, I agree. Your statement above says it all. Especially regarding the gold standard health care costs. Citizens, in the private sector, who pay your public sector gold standard healthcare costs, don’t receive gold standard healthcare benefits, as a matter of fact, they pay up to 30% out of their own pocket for healthcare benefits that are woefully substandard to yours.
And you suggest that I excuse myself from the discussion because I dare to have an opinion on how my tax dollars are spent? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you, wow…….I suggest that it is you that needs to brush up on how things work, how market forces determine the labor market. Private sector employers don’t hire someone “just because they want to” They don’t have a bottomless pit of tax payer money to go and tap, and then get angry and lash out when things don’t go exactly their way, like an angry teenager who’s been denied a request by a responsible parent.
No, I suggest you excuse yourself from the discussion because even though you are glaringly obviously ignorant to the issue at hand, that hasn’t stopped you from making grossly inaccurat and ignorant statements. Again, please refer to the whole adage about being thought a fool and keeping your mouth shut.
You keep comparing the health insurance to what the private sector provides. Again, you are woefully prepared for this discussion. I’ve worked in both the private sector and the public sector. My insurance benefits, educational benefits, etc in the private sector were just as good as the ones I have in the public sector. They are virtually identical. Plus, tell me how many “private sector” jobs have you getting spit on, punched, yelled/cursed at, picking up people covered in blood/urine/feces, going in to burning buildings where the roof could collapse, floor could collapse, building contents could explode, you could run out of air and be overcome by smoke, hit by a car or truck alongside the highway, be killed by a car fire explosion, by a tire rim being blown out in a car fire, etc… All as part of a day’s work. Your condescending “answering phones” is disgustingly insulting.
Public should have a say in how funds are spent. That is why we elect officials to speak for us. If we had a public weigh-in on every single financial item that comes up, we would never get anywhere. Especially when people are as ignorant as yourself to the topic, and apparently have no desire to educate yourself prior to making ignorantly rude accusations. If this is what my brothers and sisters over there in Tredyffrin have to deal with, I feel very sorry for the ignorance on display here….
You’re equating yourself to the “responsible parent” in that last sentence? That’s laughable. You’re an ignorant teenager trying to act like an adult and constantly emphasizing that you need to be taken seriously. Have a modicum of humility about subjects that you are sorrowfully ignorant of and you would probably get that respect that you are so obviously in need of…
firefighters and the police deserve our respect and deserve to be compensated at the highest levels because of the nature of their jobs…
Government employees do enjoy more protection and generally better plans, have a harder time being separated from their jobs than private sector. Just use our own Congress as an example.. seems to me I recall they are exempt from obama care.. Is that still the case?
Public should have a say in how funds are spent. That is why we elect officials to speak for us
————————————————————————————I agree, and our elected officials have spoken.
Clam down and have some Holiday Cheer, my friend.