Room With a Phew – Clarification Added

I am greatly comforted by these words from Milton Friedman:

I believe that in Upper Makefield’s case, the wrong people were in fact forced to do the right thing regarding taxes, at least this year, an election year.  It’s certainly not clear to me that the sitting board didn’t want to simply raise taxes, or wouldn’t have preferred to take all of the open space mils (and there’s no guarantee they won’t continue to do so.  In fact, even money says that going forward they will take as much as they can get.)

But their feet were held to the fire, and they did what they were forced to do rather than what they wanted to do.

This is not true of the budget, which while not quite as insane as it’s been the last few years, is still a creaking bucket with a half million dollar hole in the bottom.  Sadly, this issue doesn’t seem to be as important to many as it does to me.  I recently got an insight into why that might be.

I generally enjoyed reading the comments from my last post.  One comment I want to highlight:

Larry Breeden should really look in the mirror and decide whether he should really take the the supervisor’s position.  Here are the facts.

In the primary Breeden won by only 9 votes!
In the primary Breeden got only 369 votes when his teammates got around 550 votes.  That means 180 voters consiously went to the polls to vote for Polhemus and Sasso but not Breeden.
In the general election Breeden only won by a little over 200 votes against someone that had withdrawn from the race and the team worked hard to get that fact out.  Rememember the signs at the polls?

If you are asking me and the rest of the registered voters, they would rather have no supervisor than Larry Breeden as one and the numbers show this!

This came in from Bill Hoefer, and in the short distance it takes to get from A to B he got lost.  (Is he a Democrat?)  Because the registered voters were asked, and they’d rather have Breeden than no supervisor.  The numbers show the opposite of what he says.

Well, as has been said many times, math is hard.  Remedial math is available, Mr. Hoefer.  As for logical thinking, you’re on your own.

So maybe that’s why big annual deficits and shrinking cash reserves aren’t bothering people.  They can’t do the math.

But they will have to start, and we all will have to keep paying attention and keep the heat on these supervisors.  Next year is not an election year, and they will have no incentive to be good caretakers of our money.  Unless we make them.

There are also 3 silver linings to this cloud of an election.  First, Larry Breeden’s in, and that makes me hopeful.  Second, I won’t have to listen to Dave Kulig speaking as a supervisor any more.  Third, the election put to rest any doubts I may have had that the unholy Christians made a devil’s bargain; they made that bargain, and I will never tire of posting about that if I ever hear about KC or anyone in her family getting into politics again.  If that happens, and this blog and I are still around, this will be me:

Not a pretty picture!  Don’t make me do it!

I recently received an email from someone asking me to put this up as a blog post.  I’m happy to include it here.

Now that the election is over and the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors is set, I would like to ask some questions about the township’s finances that have been bothering me:

  1. The 2012 Budget shows a $502,610 deficit in the General Fund at the end of the year which will be covered by the fund’s cash surplus.  As a consequence, this cash surplus will be drawn down to $747,611 at the end of 2012 (if everything goes according to budget).  If these budget deficits continue, we will rapidly exhaust this cash surplus.  My question for the supervisors is what is your plan to address this problem?  My concern is that I have not heard anything about what will be done when the cash surplus runs out.  At that point, UM will have to transfer monies into the General Fund from other township funds, raise taxes, cut spending in the General Fund, or some combination of all three to balance the budget.  I think the residents should be given some sense of the Board’s thinking on this issue.
  2. My other question concerns the Capital Fund. In the 2012 budget the Board moved the monies from the cable fund, in the amount of $746,085, into this fund. The budgeted expenses in this fund for 2012 are $155,000.  This leaves a budgeted balance of $686,443 in this fund at the end of 2012.  My question for the supervisors is why?  Are there significant expenditures expected in this fund after 2012?  If not, this money could have been moved to the General Fund to cover the deficit in that fund.  I think the Board could give the residents some insight into the reasons why this was done.

I know that the election was hotly contested, but in the aftermath, I think giving out some more information on our budget issues would be helpful.

Two good questions, which really should be put to the supervisors at a public meeting.

Meanwhile, keep making the wrong people do the right thing.

****************************************************

Clarification: I read this post about a dozen times before publishing, and yet managed to miss that it could well be interpreted that I think the supervisors did the right thing by stealing the open space millage and giving a bit of it back to taxpayers.  The “right thing” I had in mind was that they did not raise taxes for 2011, finally made a small attempt to cut expenses, and came up with a budget that wasn’t ludicrous.  In other words, they began to act as if they believed they might be accountable.  The open space millage – all of it – should come back to the residents, who voted for those increases to purchase open space.

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