Pattye Benson

Community Matters

2010 Tredyffrin Budget

Tredyffrin Township 2010 Budget Could be in Jeopardy – as well as the School District Budget

The Philadelphia Business Journal is reporting that there are plans underway in the next couple of weeks for the introduction of the Property Tax Emergency Relief Act. Pennsylvania State Rep Steve Santarsiero intends to introduce this legislation that would provide a one-year break for property tax to anyone who has been unemployed for three months or long.

Santarsiero emphasized that the legislation would not forgive the taxes that are due, but would instead provide a one-year grace period. Under the Property Tax Emergency Relief Act, anyone unemployed for a minimum of 3 months could request a temporary exemption from paying property taxes for one year. The taxes would then be repaid, without penalty or interest, in quarterly installments over the following four years. Should the Act pass, the legislation would be in effect through the end of 2011.

Santarsiero was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe that anyone should lose their home because they cannot afford their tax obligation as a result of unemployment in this difficult economy, which we all hope will begin to pick up in the coming months.”

While I support the effort of the state to help give the unemployed a break with their property taxes, the Property Tax Emergency Relief Act certainly has the potential to play havoc with the approved 2010 township budget and the potential to increase the $9.3 million deficit in the 2010-11 school district budget.

Fire Company Budget Cuts . . . Supervisors's Holiday Drive. . . What's the Status?

There has been much discussion and debate since the last Board of Supervisor meeting on December 21 and the presentation of the $23,200 contribution check to the Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor Fire Companies. I have been very surprised by the outpouring of dialogue from the community in regards to the fundraising efforts of township Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson and then the follow-up letter in the local paper penned by Supervisors Lamina and Olson.

The first Supervisor Meeting of 2010 is in a couple of days, this Monday, January 4. I would suggest that prior to that meeting that you take the opportunity to read through Berwyn, Paoli & Radnor Fire Departments . . . Where’s the Money? (Or, . . . How Do You Cash a Cardboard Check?) posting and its 19 comments and also the Supervisor Lamina’s Explanation of the Fire Company Contribution posting which contains Supervisors Lamina and Olson Letter to the Editor and 7 comments. Question – Is it OK to Fund Township Budget With Political Party Contribution? posting along with the 24 comments.

  • Do you think that the public can expect an update from the Board of Supervisors about the fire company contributions?
  • Do you think that the Firefighter Holiday Drive’s list of contributors should be made public?
  • Other than Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson, can we expect a public statement from the other 4 supervisors concerning this matter?
  • Three new members of the Board of Supervisors will be sworn in on Monday; will we know their opinion on this rather unconventional approach to ‘making up’ the fire department’s contribution reduction?

Personally, I would like resolution on the open questions concerning the contribution and the process to ensure that the fire companies actually receive the money. Again for record, there has been no response from Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson to my emails on the subject of the fire company’s contributions. Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson’s lack of response aside, the 3 newly elected supervisors used better communication with the public as part of their campaign platform. After their swearing-in on Monday night, I will look forward to an open dialogue with these elected officials. (Supervisor DiBuonaventuro continues to be responsive to all my questions and concerns!)

I do have a suggestion for the fire companies which could be helpful to the residents. I would ask that when they give their regular financial and service updates at the Board of Supervisors meetings that the fire departments include a status on the ‘Holiday Drive’ contributions.

In review of the many thoughtful comments from residents on the subject of the fundraising efforts of Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson, I thought it would be useful to provide a sampling of the comments that I have received:

From Doug of Berwyn,

Just to be clear, I think we’re all still waiting to hear what the process will be for collection of this money. Just the basics: Who?, What?, Where?, When? How? would be helpful whether it’s 2009 or 2010.

I understand answering these questions on the 21st would have limited the Shock Doctrine effect, but at some point answers would be good.

From CJ of the Main Line,

The real issue and the only one that should be focused on is that there was cuts to the fire company by the township. This should be the focus.

The supervisors decided to cut the fire company money. I refuse to believe that the ‘donation’ was a solution. Since when does private contribution override appropriate utilization of tax dollars for the benefit of the community as a whole?

From Kate,

Last evening did not address the long term needs of the fire company and did nothing but provide a nice little show for those who wanted it and for those few, naive residents who still feel that private donations are the optimal way to fund a basic township necessity. Furthermore, listen to some of the businesses that donated in this “rescue effort.” Did anyone notice how most of them were NOT Tredyffrin businesses? So now Radnor and Easttown businesses as well as EASTTOWN TOWNSHIP are subsidizing Tredyffrin’s inability to fund a vital service. This township should be embarrassed, I know I am as a resident.

From Samuel in Berwyn,

Bottom line the township got credit for ’saving’ the fire companies and restoring their funding. Will they make good on that promise? If they want to maintain that credit then they can cut checks with the Tredyffrin logo on them to Paoli, Berwyn, and Radnor for the 5% that was cut. If they don’t do this, their claim of restoring their funds is falsehood.

From Michael of Strafford,

How do you feel about our elected officials in Tredyffrin going into Easttown and Radnor Townships to solicit funds without advising their elected officials or Township Managers in those towns of their actions? Did they get permits or permission to solicit? Better yet, were the fire companies asked for guidance on how they should go about soliciting funds on their behalf?

Was a surprise cardboard check presentation the appropriate way to deal with this? Why is this getting pushed off on neighboring municipalities?

From Roger of Berwyn,

Where’s the list of donors? Also, how many of the businesses who contributed do business within Tredyffrin? Question: If a business which does business in Tredyffrin and possibly has a contract with the Township or requires permits, etc. on a regular basis is asked by SITTING SUPERVISORS for donations to the fire company, isn’t this really a forced “fee” or “tax” on these businesses? But we can’t raise taxes, right? It’s the responsibility of the residents and the fire companies to have pasta dinners and turkey raffles. I just hope when my house is on fire the firefighters aren’t serving pancakes to make a couple bucks.

Let’s get this information out in the open, or should our local government continue its attempt to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. I’m still wondering how that huge check is going to fit in the deposit drawer at the bank.

New Year's Resolutions . . . ? How About 2010 Township Forecasts . . . ?

Did you know…

… that today is New Year’s Eve in many countries? In 1904, the New Year’s ball dropped for the first time in Times Square, New York City. In Japan, everyone laughs at the stroke of midnight to ensure good luck in the New Year. In the Philippines, children jump ten times when the clock strikes twelve, hoping to grow taller in the new year. In Mexico, some people take out their suitcases and walk around the block, hoping it would help them travel during the next year. Have a great New Year!

Today marks the end of a year and the beginning of another one . . . there’s just something refreshing about “starting over.” Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? What’s on your short list? . . . lose weight . . . save money . . . get a job . . . spend more time with family and friends . . . be kinder . . . do one good deed every day . . . exercise more . . . How will you improve your life in 2010?

How about 1020 township forecasts . . . no, I do not have a crystal ball as a reader of Community Matters pointed out; but I do believe that our past can be an indicator of our future. So where do you think this township is headed in the new year? financially? Board of Supervisor performance? State Representative Race? Fire Department funding? I’ll be glad to post your forecasts and resolutions for 2010.

In this week’s edition of the Main Line Suburban Life, Ray Hoffman lists his forecasts for 2010 in his Main Line Banter. Interesting list – I support his #1 and #2 forecast. As for #3, that one surprised me . . . didn’t know that JD was considering a 157 run. I would think that decision would need to be made rather quickly. Selfishly, I hope that there isn’t any truth in this suggestion because I think Tredyffrin needs JD’s full attention on the Board of Supervisors. My money is riding on JD to set the ship back on its course as we enter 2010!

The fearless forecasts for 2010 are:

1. Taxes will be raised by either increased millage or earned income in the Tredyffrin Township 2011 budget.

2. Volunteer firefighters and the community will again need to fight to get adequate funding from respective municipalities.

3. John DiBuonaventuro, Tredyffrin Township supervisor, will run for the state House of Representatives (District 157) as will Warren Kampf (another TT supervisor.)

4. The Conestoga High School football team will win the Central League Championship.

5. A couple of popular longtime restaurants will close in Easttown, Radnor and Tredyffrin townships.

6. Gene Williams will retire as manager of Easttown Township.

7. More stores will shutter in the retail village of Berwyn.

Supervisor Lamina's Explanation of the Fire Company Contribution

Supervisor Bob Lamina has a Letter to the Editor in this week’s Main Line Suburban Life. The letter is signed by him and Supervisor Paul Olson, but without the signature of Supervisor Kampf. It certainly was clear to me from the December 21 Supervisor Meeting that Supervisor Kampf was the third member of the supervisor’s Fire Company Holiday Drive so it is curious to me why his name was not included on the Letter to the Editor. If this truly was an orchestrated honest attempt to collect the needed funds for the fire departments (rather than something else) I would simply ask why not involve the fire companies in the process? The fire departments were not informed of this Holiday Drive by Supervisors Lamina, Olson and Kampf nor are they aware of any process in place for the actual collection and only found out about the ‘contribution check’ at the Board of Supervisors Meeting.

My understanding is that that there is confusion surrounding how the money will be collected . . . actually heard that it is being suggested that the fire companies themselves are to track down the funds. Please tell me that isn’t true! I want to believe that information cannot be accurate . . . surely the principals who organized the drive (Supervisors Kampf, Lamina and Olson) have a system in place for the appropriate collection of the funds. (which does not include the volunteer firefighters doing the collection)

Just for the record, I reached out to Supervisors Lamina, Olson and Kampf for further explanation of the Holiday Drive process and to date, my emails have gone unanswered. I would propose that there is a responsibility of our elected officials to respond to resident’s inquiries.

I will leave it to the readers for further comment, here’s Supervisor Lamina’s letter.

Board did firefighters’ funding right

To the Editor:

As participants in the Tredyffrin budget discussions of the last several weeks, we read with interest your article entitled “Funds for Fire Companies Are Restored.” While it is true the fire companies will receive the additional funding they desired in 2010, we believe a better title would have been “Tredyffrin Community Steps Forward.”

Township tax funds were not utilized to restore the funding because funding for every township-related service was reduced and no one from any of those departments – including the fire companies – ever stated they could not provide for the public’s safety without more. With the public safety intact, and in light of the challenging economy, the budget developed by the township manager with Board of Supervisors and significant community input is balanced and contains no real-estate property-tax increase in 2010. In our view therefore, one of the top stories this year is indeed the generosity of our community and a local government that in very challenging economic times made the difficult but correct decision to tighten our belts rather than first reaching out to our taxpayers to foot the bill.

With all that said, Tredyffrin’s community members – including members of the Board of Supervisors – worked hard to ensure that the fire companies received the $21,000 they desired. Among them, we note that John “C.T.” Alexander, chairman of the Republican Committee in Tredyffrin, informed the public during the township meeting last Monday that he and his committee members came forward with a $5,000 matching-fund pledge to help raise money for the fire companies. We also understand these are to be funds from individual members and not from any political-action committee. We very much appreciate this far-reaching level of charitable giving and are also hopeful that in the spirit of bipartisanship, the members of the Tredyffrin Democratic Committee may likewise choose to contribute.

Finally words cannot begin to express our gratitude to all those who stepped forward with generosity in difficult times, and to all of the individuals, businesses and organizations who gave so charitably in this effort. In any case we know the fire companies are pleased by these efforts because their presidents, Messrs. Tilden, Beatty and Roderick, each publicly expressed their gratitude for the funds raised. It proves that by working together as a community we can continue to keep Tredyffrin the great place it is.


Robert W. Lamina, Paul Olson

5 Gold Stars for Tredyffrin Township 's Public Works

I would be remiss if I did not comment on the township’s snow removal talents. I just ventured on to the roads from my house in the Great Valley to Gateway Shopping Center, traveling through Chesterbrook. We have lived here for 25 years and I have known Chesterbrook Blvd. to stay snow-covered for days, even with a snow accumulation of only a few inches. Not this time! (and I think there may be 20 inches). I was simply amazed at the fabulous job that has been done within 12 hours of the last snowflake falling — Kudos to the Public Works Department!

When I was checking out at Trader Joes, the clerk (Randy) asked me if I lived in Tredyffrin (totally unsolicited question). I say yes, and why did he ask? He proceeds to tell me that he had just driven to Trader Joes for work, from southern Chester County and that the roads were very bad. That is until he gets to Tredyffrin Township. We he got to Tredyffrin, Randy says “it was like magic, all the roads were cleared, even the secondary roads!” Randy was so impressed with the township snow removal that he was telling everyone who went through the check-out lane! I told him that I knew a few of the people responsible and I would make sure that his compliments were passed on to them.

I am going to make sure that this blog posting goes to the township Public Works Director Steve Norcini and Township Manager Mimi Gleason, along with members of the Board of Supervisors. With our township supervisors voting tomorrow night on the final budget for 2010, I think we all should be glad that this winter wonderland blizzard occurred in 2009, rather than in 2010. Will there even be funding in the budget for snow removal in 2010? I really didn’t understand the discussion at the last Board of Supervisor’s meeting concerning the ‘renewal’ of the snow removal contract. It would lead me to believe that there was an outside contractor hired for snow removal; yet today I saw one township truck after another on the roads with plows and sand.

Fire Company Comments re Fundaising . . . Should Fire Fighters Supplement the Budget Deficiency with Fundraising Efforts?

Comments to my last posting have raised interesting dialogue concerning the township requirement to provide emergency service to the public vs. requirement of the fire houses to further fundraise to increase their coffers. (Read the comments to the last post). One commentator suggested that if each household gave $2, the $21K could be raised by the public. In theory, that would be correct, but as pointed out at the last Board of Supervisor meeting by several (including Bill DeHaven) the public can no be relied upon for contributions.

Read the comments and then weigh in — do you think that our volunteer fire firefighters should increase their fundraising to make up the shortfall with the township budget cut? Or how about the volunteer fire fighters base their support, on the public’s support? In other words, they hold back support until the public makes up the financial deficit?

I would be curious if the fire companies could elaborate on their fundraising efforts. For instance, I know that Paoli Fire Company does an annual contribution drive, does Berwyn and Radnor do likewise? Any details that you could provide would be helpful – however, please understand that I think that your volunteerism efforts as a fire fighter should not require anything further; you provide a service that the township is required to provide to its residents.

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