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 fair share.

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

That's 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.

Best Wishes.

To see my previous mailings just Google chickenman west vincent.  As usual, if you want to be on or off my list, or have some comments or suggestions, or know someone who would like to be on the list, please let me know.  Just  write to chestercountynews@gmail.com  Feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested.