Newtown News Update

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Revised Preliminary 2018 Budget Approved

Same as Preliminary Budget Advertised in November

Newtown Township passed a revised preliminary budget on January 10, 2018. Final consideration is scheduled for January 24, 2018.

Recall that at the November 21, 2017, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, it was decided to publicize a proposed budget that included a 0.45 mill new tax specifically earmarked for the ambulance squad and a 0.55 mill new tax specifically for fire hydrant maintenance (read “BOS Approves Publication of Preliminary 2018 Budget”:; also view a video of Mr. Evan Resnikoff re-iterate his plea for an EMS tax millage at the December 13, 2017 meeting:

By implementing new taxes to cover these expenses, the Township will save approximately $305,000 (previously, $120,000 from the general fund was allocated to the Ambulance Squad and $185,000 for fire hydrants). It will also lessen the Township's dependence on what Town Manager Kurt Ferguson called "volatile revenue sources" (read the article below for more on that).

This preliminary budget, however, was shot down at the December 27, 2017 meeting. Instead, the "lame duck" BOS approved a budget that severely trimmed expenses.

The 2018 Budget Process Timeline

In case you are interested in how the 2018 Budget "sausage" is being made, here's the timeline so far:

  • October 16, 2017: Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson presented his recommended 2018 budget to the Board of Supervisors (minutes not available).
  • November 21, 2017: The preliminary 2018 budget is approved for advertising by BOS. It does not include the 2 mill property tax proposed by the Township Manager, but does include a new 0.45 mill EMT tax and a 0.55 mill fire hydrant tax (minutes).
  • December 27, 2017: A revised preliminary 2018 budget approved. This budget did not include the EMT and Fire Hydrant taxes and included more than $300K in cuts (minutes not available).
  • January 10, 2018: 2018 budget re-opened and revised re-instating the EMT and Fire Hydrant taxes and removing the cuts. It is essentially the same budget that was advertised in November, 2017 (minutes not available).
  • January 24, 2018: The newly revised budget is on the agenda for public discussion and final consideration by the BOS.
Download the Budget Here

Newtown's "Volatile" Sources of Revenue

Newtown Manager Schools BOS on Taxes

For the benefit of "newbie" Township Supervisors John Mack and Linda Bobrin, Town Manager Kurt Ferguson discussed the "volatile" nature of the taxes the town depends upon to meet its expenses.

To sum up: Ferguson suggested that Newtown Township is unique in that it does NOT have a property tax (see below) and the lion share of it’s revenue sources depend upon “volatile taxes.” These taxes include resident and non-resident Earned Income Taxes (EIT), which account for about 54% of the yearly revenue.

EITs are “volatile” because people may lose jobs and other municipalities may enact their own EIT. That means that Newtown can lose the taxes collected from residents of those municipalities who work in Newtown. This would have a "devastating effect" on the Town’s financial stability and credit rating according to Ferguson.

The Truth About “Real Estate” Taxes

What’s often quoted as “Real Estate” tax millage of 3.50 for Newtown is actually composed of a 0.875 Fire Tax millage plus a 2.625 Debt Service millage.

This income does NOT go into the General Fund to cover ordinary/general ongoing expenses. The former goes into the Fire Protection Fund, which pays for the Fire Chief’s salary, health insurance, etc., and contribution to the Newtown Fire Association. The latter goes toward paying off loans for road improvements, etc. Other towns have a property tax that pays for the general expenses of running and maintaining a town.

View Ferguson's Presentation Here

Police Chief on Narcan & New 24/7 Drug Drop-off Program

Newtown Township Police Chief Henry Pasqualini explains how his 24/7 drug drop-off program works and offers more details about the collection of drug overdose and Narcan use police call data in response to a question from Supervisor John Mack. His remarks were made at the January 10, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting.

I appreciate that the Chief's Call for Service Report now includes call numbers for overdoses and Narcan Use. Management guru Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying "you can't manage what you can't measure." So, these data are important.

As you may know, Mr. Resnikoff – Chief of Operations at the Squad – reported that the Squad’s response to opioid calls was up 58% in the first 8 months of 2017 compared to 2016 (for more on that, read "Newtown Ambulance Squad Seeks Additional Funding").

The Chief's report offers some details: in 2016 there were 22 overdose calls and 2 uses of Narcan made by the Newtown Police Department.

I’d just like to say one other thing related to this:

Pennsylvania Underestimates Death Due to Opioids by More Than Half! (Read about that here.) That’s the worst record of any state. It’s a disgrace that Chuck Kiessling - the president of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association - can’t tell us how many opioid overdose deaths the 67 members of his association handled last year. According to Mr. Kiessling, that data "isn’t going to impact the living." I’m here to say that those deaths matter and do have an impact on the living, especially the families of the victims.

View Chief Pasqualini's Presentation Here

John Mack