And now we bring you a subject undoubtedly at the top of
everyone's mind at this period of Christmas cheer. The Public
Sewers and taxpayer finances.
But first let me say that I hope you had a really superb
Christmas and I wish you a very Happy New Year, and I think that
now, after many years in the wilderness, that you can look
forward to a much better New Year, as far as the township, and
your taxes, are concerned.
So, back to the real basics. If you were to flush your toilet
and things start coming back onto the bathroom floor, I bet you
would be unhappy.
West Vincent Township has several Public Sewer plants.
Weatherstone, Miller Towers (Stone Rise Apartments), which has
the complicated name of Ludwigs Corner waste water distribution
system, Matthews Meadows, St. Stephens Green, and
Stonecroft. Every one was designed differently, having different
costs and requirements to operate. Some are older, some are
newer. The fees for each resident using their respective plant
is based on 2 things. One, cost to operate. Two, Capital
Reserve, which is additional monies to be banked in order to
repair the facility in case of breakdown as well as save money
for a replacement in between 20-30 years. It is a wise move to
be prepared for the future since a specific group of people
would be shouldering quite a bit of debt when the time comes.
This is a pay as you go system. If you are not connected to the
system, you don't pay but when you do pay, it should be your
As I said, normally each year there is a sum put aside as a
Capital Reserve. What would you say if the former Township
Manager was sort of cooking the books on 2 of the Sewage plants?
Every year he was setting the budget artificially low so the
budget balanced between what the residents paid and what it cost
to operate the system. But 2 of the plants have been losing
money for years. The budget was created to look like everything
was fine. To examine this, the one report to watch was the
“Budget vs. Annual” (2015 B v.A can be found at http://www.westvincenttwp.org/wp-content/uploads/2015-Budget-vs-Actual.pdf).
For several years, 2 of the systems have failed to break even.
In fact, they were heavily in the red. But the Manager never did
anything about it. He let it continue to happen, right through
the 2016 Budget which he completely wrote and was adopted prior
to his non-reappointment.
It gets deeper than that, there is a manipulation of the budget
in order to make the bleeding appear not as severe. Refer to
Matthews Meadow and St. Stephens Green. Both of those sewer
operation have no line item for Capital Reserve.
First column is actual spent this 2015, 2nd is budgeted, 3rd is
over budget, last is % of budget showing over (or under) spent
But all others have that line item Capital Reserve. All monies
that should be used for Capital Reserve are being used for
operations. There is no savings for replacement of either plant
as it ages, which will cost around $1,000,000 each to build. By
having no Capital Reserve, Matthew's Meadows stayed in the black
by $140 but St Stephens Green could not even muster that. That
facility was still in the negative over $8300. Compare that to
the Capital Reserves of all the other plants. These plants have
the following positive cash (including the capital reserve for
the year) in 2015: Ludwig's Corner Waste: $123,514.33,
Stonecroft: $4,125.16, Weatherstone: $197,970.2
right, Jim Wendelgass shifted the burden to the General Fund,
subsidizing the cost of a sewage plant operation with every
taxpayer in the Township paying part of someone's sewer bill.
Certainly it had to be with full knowledge of the cost
overruns because nothing was ever done to fix the shortfall by
either improving efficiency or charging more for the use of
the system. And with the deletion of the Capital Reserve line
item. I am sure the residents of Matthews Meadow and St
Stephens Green have no idea of the voodoo bookkeeping that was
produced and are going to eventually be in for a bad surprise,
when they learn about this problem, perhaps with this email.
Why would Wendelgass have done this? My speculation is that
there are a lot of voters in those developments. Raising sewer
bills will lose the votes for the Supervisor board at the time
of Miller-Quinn-Perkins (David Brown was safe because he was
too new to the Board at the time). Ken Miller could not afford
to alienate anyone so it was safer to make others pay for the
shortfall than do the right thing.
Whilst these plants are not expected to fail in the near
future, it might be wise to start thinking of future
provision. In the end, this intentional oversight damage has
created another of many issues for the new Administration to
clean up. 2017 is a new year and a continuing towards getting
the Township back on track.
With Very Best Wishes
for the New Year.
To see my previous mailings
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