Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Money Matters?

I hate this time of year and attending council meetings.  It's budget time and sitting through one of these meetings is worse than sticking a hot poker in my eye.  This year they actually had a budget committe and it helped the process limp along but not by much since what they were actually tasked to do got glossed over yet again by the same old same old.

After attending the budget committee meeting the night before I was lead to compose and read the following during citizens to be heard.

Last night I attended the last part of the budget committee’s meeting and I became very discouraged.  It appeared to me that most members and department heads seem to think that taxes need to be raised as a way out of the fact that the cost of doing business goes up each year.  What amazes me is that quite a few residents are able to make ends meet on commission based employment and understand that tightening our belts is a necessity in this economic climate, yet that understanding does not reach any higher.  It did not appear that anyone aside from Councilmen Winkler wished to try something different as what we have been doing doesn’t work.  I am sure that many of you have heard the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  I have lived in Downingtown long enough to know that we have the market cornered on insanity according to that colloquism.

I am aware that we share fire and police departments with East Caln.  I would be interested to see if the number of calls that East Caln requires and the number of calls required in Downingtown match up and if the percentages of money paid in by each are equal to the amount of utilization of each entity.  Ideas and explanations for ways to get more bang for our buck especially with equipment were met with a bit of disdain last evening.  For instance hiring two part time officers would save over $25,000 dollars and would meet the needs of both East Caln and Downingtown.    Has the possibility of merging both fire companies ever been discussed?  It was said that at least 110 second calls had to be scratched due to understaffing of volunteers.  Volunteers are also going to be at shorter supply once Robert’s Chevrolet opens their price point in West Whiteland as several techs are part of Minquas Volunteer Department.  The merging of Alert and Minquas lessen the burden of equipment for each company, but the amount of volunteers that are available increases exponentially.

I would also be interested to see how having so many events in Downingtown stacks up against man hours and overtime hours that are spent by police and public works and even possibly fire if needed and how much of that money is actually returned into the borough’s revenue and or is paid by each entity that has the event.  I heard a lot of vague numbers, but wouldn’t it be prudent to see actual graphs and or accounting sheets showing where there is,…. if there is….. a benefit for the borough to host the event?

As a resident of over 20 years I have to say I like living in Downingtown as a whole, but if we don’t find ways to stop the hemorrhaging of our budgets and raising taxes each year we will begin to lose residents hence we will lose revenue.  I would like to see Downingtown stay the place to be and even grow into a greater version of itself, but that is not going to happen if we do not try some things that are different and might work.  If they don’t, how much worse off will we be and if they do how much better could things be?  Thank you.
It was primiarily ignored as many things so often are with this council.  What I would like to know is how many times are we going to dance this same dance before more than one person has enough hutzpah to buck the failing system in D'town?  We as residents need to make it known that the same old same old is NOT working and we need to change.  We need to show up to council meetings and have our voices heard in "Citizens to Be Heard" so that it no longer is Citizens to be tolerated because we have to.  Nothing is going to change if we don't push our ELECTED officials to make the hard decisions.  I can't wait to see what is going to happen when the residents hear that taxes are going up.  I might stay away from Borough Hall in case there is a firestorm.......then again complacency seems to be the attitude of the day and that makes me sad.