22 November 2022 BOS Meeting Summary
2021 Audit Discrepancies, Human Relations Commission, Yet Another Lower Dolington Rd Trail Promise, N Sycamore St Grant, Pedestrian Safety, 2023 Budget Discussion, More…
This is my personal summary of the November 22, 2022, meeting of Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). This is not a complete nor an official summary.
Access the 2022 BOS Chronicle for a more detailed summary of this meeting plus an updated BOS voting record (UNOFFICIAL) for 2022.
- 2021 Audit Presentation - Discrepancies Found
- Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
- Planning Commission Update: Joint Comprehensive Plan
- Mack's Report: Human Relations Commission vs K-12 Education Discrimination
- Engineer's Report
- Old Business
- 2023 Budget Discussion: Funds for NFA Retention and Recruitment
- Official Video
Mike Gentile, from Maillie made a presentation to the BOS.
As was noted at the 9 November 2022 BOS meeting, he auditors have identified the following “SIGNIFICANT RISKS”:
- Risk of Management Override of Internal Controls - Even though internal control over financial reporting may appear to be well-designed, controls that are otherwise effective can be overridden by management.
- Risk of Improper Revenue Recognition - Improper timing of revenue recognition happens when an entity inappropriately records revenues in one period that should be recorded in another.
Mr. Gentile was asked to explain these risks considering that other Maillie 2021 audits of other townships such Bensalem audit by Maillie, e.g., do NOT identify any internal audit risks.
Mr. Gentile answered: “I can go back and find out … why what wasn't in the [Bensalem] letter…my understanding is it's always been there and it's been in our documentation for years. It's now just required to be communicated both at the beginning and end of the audit.”
My research shows that the Bensalem audit mentions that auditors are responsible for detecting an “override of internal control,” but it does not mention that such risks have been identified as is the case in the Newtown audit. Also, the word “improper” does not appear in the Bensalem audit.
Fund Balance Discrepancy
According to page 12 of the revised propose 2023 budget, the “actual net fund balance” at the end of 2021 was $4,515,804 whereas slide 4 of the 2021 Maillie budget presentation says the actual year-end balance was $4,535,820 – a difference of $20,016!
Mr. Gentile noted that there was a transfer out of the general fund for the “27th payroll” of $20,000, which he claims accounts for the difference. However, the difference is ACTUALLY $20,016, NOT $20,000. This difference was not explained by Mr. Gentile. By accounting standards even a $16 discrepancy is significant and may indicate that there are other problems with this audit.
Find more audit details – including Earned Income Tax and RE Transfer Tax trends - refer to page 102 of the 2022 BOS Chronicle (pdf).
The Newtown Township Planning Commission (NTPC) discussed a number of actions to possibly be undertaken to protect the environment, including reviewing portions of the SALDO and JMZO that deal with environmental concerns, such as native plants, steep slopes, riparian buffers. We might also consider recommending actions to encourage the use of LED lights and electric vehicles the elimination of single use plastics.
For more, see pages 95 and 104 of the 2022 BOS Chronicle (pdf). Also read: “Newtown Planning Commission Reviews Draft Comprehensive Plan”.
I attended the November 16, 2022, Newtown Human Relations Commission (NTHRC), which discussed actions it could take with regard to discrimination issues* at the K12 level in Bucks County schools.
This was a joint meeting of local HRC’s that include Bristol Borough, Doylestown Borough, Newtown Borough, Middletown Township, New Hope, and Yardley Borough.
*The issue: Plans by Right-wing parents who wanted to show a film in Newtown Township suggesting public school teachers teach kids “X-rated sex acts.” According to an article in the Bucks County Beacon, the film also “equates the U.S. public education system with Marxism and asks why educators are encouraging racism, sexual promiscuity, perversion and Communism in the classroom.”
The showing of the film was opposed by several groups – including The Peace Center. Consequently, the proposed venue – a Newtown Township bar/pub – decided not to screen the movie.
The township engineering firm (RVE) prepared a Keystone Communities – Additional Appropriation funding grant application with DCED pedestrian signal improvements at N Sycamore St and Silo Dr. See page 105 of the 2022 BOS Chronicle (pdf) for more information about this grant.
Resolution states: “Newtown Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania hereby requests a Keystone Communities Program grant in the amount of $50,000.00 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority to be used for design and construction of the Sycamore Street Pedestrian Improvements Project.”
The Township proposes to implement additional safety recommendations to include installation of push button activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at the unsignalized crossings at Silo Drive, additional improved signage and striping, and ADA curb ramp improvements. See Draft Plan below:
On November 15, 2022, supervisors Fisher and Mack met with Newtown Walk residents at the crosswalk in question to observe the traffic and hear the concerns of residents.
Newtown Walk residents were particularly concerned about how speed measurements would be made. Ms. Colubriale, the RVE engineer, said: “I can provide a quick update on the new town Yardley Road … our office was performing some measurements in the field for site distance. We also put a piece of radar equipment out there last week to collect speed data. That was picked up from the field today. Our office is currently reviewing that information and we'll be able to make a recommendation.” RVE will present the data at the December 7, 2022, BOS meeting.
For more details, see page 106 of the 2022 BOS Chronicle (pdf).
In an email to supervisors prior to the meeting, Leanna Colubriale, the Township Engineer said “I spoke with Lumen’s contractor (Ryan Henderson – Rhino Cable Services)… regarding their schedule for relocation. They had on-site meetings last Friday and yesterday with the various utility companies as required by PA One Call. It is my understanding that they are waiting on one utility to give them the “all clear,” then they will begin construction. Construction is anticipated to take one month.”
I did note markings on LDR that indicate preparations for the work are underway. To paraphrase a famous comedian: They know how to PREPARE for the work, but do they know how to DO the work? That’s really the most important part of the job.
Meanwhile, the supervisors were in favor of having the Township’s contractor APCON remove the cones, barrels, and backfill at the intersection of LDR and Stanford Pl/Rd. Many residents have requested this and have even taken matters into their own hands and moved barrels. The BOS agreed and instructed the Township Engineer to inform the contractor to do the work necessary to remove these eyesores
The revised 2023 draft budget includes a $330,000 donation to the volunteer Newtown Fire Association (NFA) General Fund, which the Township Manager, Mr. Lewis, has said is made “with the anticipation that the NFA will enhance their volunteer program to ensure adequate volunteer coverage for weekends.”
The Approved NFA 2023 Budget only allocates $3,000 for “Recruitment” in 2022 and the same in 2023. Only $1,350 of this was spent as of September 2022. Fire Chief Glen Forsythe explained much of the $330,000 will be used by NFA to “ensure adequate volunteer coverage for weekends” and exactly what are the plans for how this money will be used: See the meeting video starting with that question/answer...