Derry Twp’s 13-point Budget Recovery Strategy

Nov 4, 2011 – Last night’s presentation was met with understandable resistance from those hearing my drastic but necessary proposals.  No one likes cuts, folks.  But a leader has to make them…

13-Pts Presentation Results

Oct 30, 2011 – “Unfortunately, Township Expenditures have exceeded Revenues for the last 4 years — the last 3 years by over $1 million/year!  This can not continue.” – Supervisor Sandy Ballard, October 28, 2011.

Thank you, Sandy.  I never recall another elected official who worked so hard to keep her constituents in the loop.

Here are some suggestions.  I will try to be present to state all for the record, but in the event I have a meeting for work, please consider this document public record.

Most of my recommendations, of course, have to do with efficient use of OUR tax money.  We have not done a good job with this.  This document has also been posted to my website, for ease of reference by you and other taxpayers.

All these are from this point forward planks of my platform to become Township Supervisor (many have been for some time).  By copy, I request they all become planks of John Foleys and Chuck Witmers platforms as well, or that they explain to the taxpayer what in them they oppose.  I copy many taxpayers of all political pursuasions on this, that they might offer their timely input as well.

1) Decrease our tax expenditures by prohibiting award of no-bid contracts over $75,000, unless a third party acts as our agent in the contracting process.  We have announced $23M no-bid infrastructure improvements.  We MUST save a couple million on design and permitting of the remainder.  As a licensed professionl civil engineer with over a decade and a half experience, I KNOW we can.

2) Our manager must be subject to the expenditures for which our staff recommends you and I pay.  That would ensure he or she has skin in the same game WE do.  It’s fair, it’s just, and it is typical of many municipalities of similar size.  At the very least, ensure that upon our manager’s retirement, his replacement is a resident.

3) Derry Township’s online budget summary has a substantial item simply titled “Board of Supervisors.” We must identify where that money goes, and eliminate all we can’t live without.  It is inappropriate to allow such a substantial yet vaguely defined line item in our budget.

4) Staff utilization efficiency – The duplication of our Director/Asst Director of Community Development is overkill and insufficient at the same time.  A more typical organization for a municipality of our size and budget is to have a Zoning Officer/Twp Engineer organization.  Upon attrition of one of the two employees who fill these redundant positions, move to the more typical Zoning Officer/Twp Engineer scenario.  This will add no staff, but ensure OUR engineer is on our team, during technical aspects of our contract negotiations.

5) Ensure that Comp Plan update is openly bid.  Bids for this thing could have a range of 10-fold, let’s get our money’s worth.

6) Put the Twp Newsletter on line (maybe it already is).  Then, in some upcoming issue, put an “opt out” option.  If you would like to save paper and your tax dollars and not recieve a hardcopy Twp newsletter, check a check box and enter your email on the Twp website.  You will then get an email each month, telling you the newsletter is available.  The email will have a link on it.  Those who want may continue to recieve it. Or maybe those who want to recieve a hardcopy have to “opt in”.  I’d bet within 1 year the number of people I am paying to print full-color, high gloss and mail this to cuts in half…maybe better.

7) Investigate the pros and cons of our library joining DCLS.  It seems we have a lot of redundancy with what they offer the rest of the County (with the exception of Middletown, which seems to also not be in DCLS).

8) Research legal options to sue utilities for cost to locate their facilities for storm work.  I recall that was close to $200,000.  As a PE, I think we were improperly tasked with that, as I said at a public meeting.  Solicitor Yost replied that we could look at retrieving that money. Now’s the time.

9) Does Twp own vending machines in public places?  If so, put credit card payment options on them, like on City Island.  Decrease vandalism/robbery attempts, as evidenced at Shank Park.  Also, increase revenue, since not dependent upon cash only.  I never carry cash, many folks don’t.

10) Check ID’s for those taking mulch from the recycle center.  Offer it to non-residents at a competitive rate for sale.  Mulching is expensive, we pay big for the grinder’s teeth.

11) Determine whether new HERCO expansions/added attractions generate more attendees.  If they do, then each one should have to do a Traffic Impact Study, and all recommended traffic improvements, like all other developers do.  These are, to my knowledge, always waived for park expansion land development plans.

12)  Publish all employee salaries. Re-examine and renegotiate non-union employees’ if appropriate.  According to PennLive, the following stick out to me as exceptional:

* James N. Negley Dauphin Derry Township Township manager $144,610.05

* Dauphin Derry Township Chief Of police (William D. Smith made $110,359.20)

* David L. Holl Dauphin Derry Township Lieutenant $100,890.96

13)

For comparison, here is what some of our other managment (nonDerry, but public)  employees make or made recently.  Our employee salaries should be in line with what the market commands (realizing we can’t do that with the union employees):

* Former Derry Township School District Superintendent Linda Brewer $157,175.00

* Common Pleas Judge Lawrence F Clark Jr. $152,115

* Lt Gov Catherine Knoll $138,091

* PA Auditor General Jack Wagner $136,778

* Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries approx $95,000

* Former PaDEP Delaware River Section Chief Steve Todd $57,000 (oversaw over $25M worth of public infrastructure projects and a staff of four).

13) Utilize my review of the stormwater plan: (similar to part of my recent response to a comment on PennLive)

Recall that we paid $50,000 (and I’ve heard rumours that we’ve overpaid for that by some $19,000, after being assured by current-Board Chair Chris Abuzzo that it would not go over $50k in a public meeting) for a stormwater study.  I spent many hours of my own time, for free, reviewing the final document.  I submitted all 5 pages of my review to all the Supervisors on Fri, 9 Jan 2009 03:58:55.  The whole thing is on my website.  Check it out, there are some REALLY huge potential savings in there.

Common sense says we should have directed OUR consultants incorporate (or at least investigate) my many potential cost-saving ideas for more effective flood control, as appropriate.  I also presented them at a public meeting held specifically to get public feedback into the proposal.  I can see no evidence anyone ever glanced at them, except then-Supervisor and current-County Commissioner Mike Pries.  He issued the following response, on Sun, 11 Jan 2009 18:33:42, verbatim, and in total: “Thank you Steve – very in depth and interesting input.”

I don’t know if the professional consultant used my suggestions.  The website WE are paying what seems to me to be an incredibly high amount for, to show us these plans had no plans on Oct 29, 2011.  I did this extensive and free review on my own time to save your (and my) tax money.  Let’s save some.

We have 2 more phases of this storm study to go, and we are over $6 MILLION into the first one!  For the next 2 phases, we need to have a third party review, or make whichever professional is selected  (hopefully not a campaign donor, hopefully not no-bid) for design use the review I already did free.

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