John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
What Residents Would Cut From Proposed 2021 Budget

Many Newtown Township residents are understandably upset about the proposed Newtown Township “Preliminary 2021 Budget,” which includes a 133% increase in municipal property tax. For the average Newtown Twp homeowner that translates to an ADDITIONAL $200 to $300 per year paid in taxes to the township [calculate your increase here] .

The budget includes many new and increased expenditures for personnel, services, and capital improvements. The attached chart attached shows a list of new expenditures in the budget that could be cut in order to reduce the tax increase.

Which would you cut?

If you have not done so already, please take my "Budget Cut Survey" now to give me your answers. All responses are confidential and no individually identifiable information will be disclosed to third parties. 

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township Survey. It’s purpose is solely to inform John Mack, a Newtown Supervisor, of your opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.

Survey Results

The "Budget Cut Survey" asked respondents to select items in the budget they would be willing to cut in order to reduce or eliminate the proposed tax increase. The list of items to cut includes many – but NOT all – of the expenditures in the originally proposed budget. As of 30 November 2020, eighty (N = 80) responses have been collected. 

Personnel Cuts

Many respondents felt it is not appropriate to increase salaries and add new personnel given the current situation where many people have been furloughed, laid off, or taken pay cuts.

Selected* Comments Regarding Personnel
  • “I don't think it's appropriate to continue increasing the tax burden when revenue is down. We should be looking for cuts at this time not spending more.”
  • “All employees should start contributing to their health benefits. If they're not all ready if they are we should raise the amount. If not we should start with 1.5% of their salary going towards their health plan.”
  • “Is our police force overworked? Are we paying a lot of overtime?”
  • “This is an usual year. Limiting raises and a hiring freeze for new positions is responsible economics. Promotions should continue, but not with a back fill. Hopefully it is a 1 year issue allowing for income taxes to come back.”
  • “3% is generous since retries, only got 1.5%, Why not frezze salaries for on year.? Promotion freeze for all employees for one year.”
  • “Limit staff salary increases to 1%. Many residents have taken salary cuts this year.”
  • “3% raises are very fair in todays environment in my view. Overall recommend no hiring of new position(s) for assistant township manager, FT Director of Zoning and police officers at this time. We appear to be adequately staffed especially in the police officer ranks with 26 full time officers. There is the salary concern but also significant benefits costs for these positions that personally I question are needed at this time.”
  • “Replacement of retiring officers should continue to maintain the size of our force. Look to combine Borough and Township officers.”
  • “What is the justification for more police officer? The crime blotter says it all drunk drivers, and shoplifting( start charging businesses for more the 10 calls a year).”
  • “Limit all salary increases to the rate of inflation for 2020. Hire no one for anything, promote by title only without pay bump, no increase in spending whatsoever except that required contractually or due to extreme emergency.”
  • “Salary increases in the this current time is unacceptable when there are people furloughed and down sized due to the pandemic. Do with what you have for at least the time being. The next few years we’ll be better able to ascertain what’s really needed to keep the township afloat and sustainable. Now is definitely not the time to increase taxes!”
  • “We have all had to tighten our belts considerably during the pandemic. The least our township leaders can do is the same. Maybe have a look at Middletown Township’s budget. They don’t seem to have the same problems... Newtown Township Supervisors better realize this is not an inner city location and stop the fear-mongering when it comes to police protection.”
  • “Eliminate the pay increase and tax mileage associated with the fire chief who already collects a police pension. Eliminate the asst Twp manager and code enforcement jobs. Want to protect your citizens? Eliminating needed public safety jobs is not the way to do it! And stop listening to Rob Ciervo whose past solution was to lay off staff.”

Find more comments from residents here...

Cuts to Services

I was surprised that many respondents were OK with cutting parks & rec and road paving services, but NOT public works services (e.g., fixing potholes). However, a significant percentage did not agree with any of the proposed cuts in services.

Selected* Comments Related to Cuts in Services
  • “Since we are in a pandemic the situation should be handled similar to the private sector. Freeze spending and approve funding for mission critical priorities. The board seems to have the belief that the pandemic should their means to grow the tax burden on its constituents.”
  • “In addition think about ways to raise revenue through use fees - eg parking, etc.”
  • “Only maintenance and repair no large projects.”
  • “Maintenance needs and should be done annually. By delaying it just causes greater expenses down the line therefore I prefer we not cut road repavement or Public works projects in general. Parks and Rec expenses should be tied to participation of residents to the programs so that will work itself out.”
  • “Now is not the time to increase expenses in non-important items (to me at least and a majority of taxpayers as I’ve seen) like Parks and Recreation expenses. A year or 2 from now would be a better time for review of the non-essential items.”
  • “Look line item by line item keeping only the most essential. Summer programs should be less subsidized and sized to break even or make money instead of paid from taxes when monies are tight.”
  • “One year freeze on expenses for parks, except where necessary for safety.”
  • “Reduce as much spending as possible. All of these things can wait until the economy is on a steady footing.”
  • “Summer camps may still suffer the affects of the pandemic. Indoor programs will be difficult to run. Staff will not be needed like in years past.”

Find more comments from residents here...

Cuts Related to Capital Spending

No surprise that so many respondents felt the police building study was not necessary at this time, although that cut saves only $20,000. But every little bit helps!

Selected* Comments Related to Capital Spending
  • “I think the township can survive without new vehicles or new anything for a yr or two.”
  • “Look, we’re in a pandemic. Spending on “new” anything needs to be halted. Vehicles, computers, surveys about new buildings. No. Not this year.”
  • “Not to many years ago essentially the entire Township offices fit into one facility including the police dept offices. Now there's talk of another new police office. Don't see how that can happen.”
  • “Look for low hanging fruit. A lot of little items that get cut will add up to big savings that can be passed along to the Newtown residents by decreasing this ridiculously high increase.”
  • “Technology and cloud virtualization -so technology investments that reduce or automation that reduce cost should be explored.”
  • “Learning the impact of delayed capital purchases for trucks, computers and police cars. Are these truly approaching end of life or can the delay be handled? Pragmatic approach of what is needed not just what is ideal.”
  • “Unless vehicles in place currently are falling apart, pay necessary repair/maintenance as need which has to be far less than new purchases. I've held many a car for 5-8 years and with proper maintenance I've never had an issue. Regarding police vehicles, why only reduce 1 of 3 proposed. Why a need for any at all if we already have some and they can be kept up and maintained versus large capital expenditure for new. Also is lease an option. Why a need to own?”
  • “Vehicles can be maintained at performance levels needed. The new police car purchase’s would be an expensive item (s) that the township doesn’t necessarily need at this time. We are in a fairly peaceful environment whereby there should not be a lot of wear and tear on the police vehicles due to high speed chases, violent car stops, etc.”
  • “Putting off 1 year will not cause any harm to our community. We are all doing this in our homes and we wish we could purchase these items, but our incomes have gone down.”
  • “Cut everything, lock, stock, and barrel.”

Find more comments from residents here...

Selected* General Comments

Why on earth would our local departments be considering new vehicles, new buildings, hiring more staff...when we are in an economic slump, A PANDEMIC, where spending is not an option for many people at this time. Delaying things for at least a year, maybe longer, is the responsible thing to do. Can we get a few more years out of the current vehicles, computers and buildings?? Are they unsafe for anyone? Please be responsible with our tax dollars. Frivolous spending right now would be unwise. 

This is a time of belt tightening for many in the township and across the country. Limited new hires unless critically needed and justified along with maintenance vs. capital purchases/leases make alot of sense to me. As the local economy improves in the coming year, there will be time to review and add if needed.

We all are making sacrifices during these hard times and it only makes sense to freeze all township spending during reduced revenue yrs like this one. The companies I work with are laying off and cutting coast anyway they can not spending more. Revenue will return and sensible spending can continue at that time.

I do not oppose the tax hike. I support the township staff increase and services and understand the need for the increase. I feel that the additional $240 that the 158% increase will cost me is worth the additional positions the township will provide. I feel the residents are still under the impression that increase is imposed on their entire property tax bill as well as their school tax bill and need to be educated.

I would like for the township to concentrate on needed services like police, fire, EMT, road repair, etc., not necessarily parks and recreation programs and hiring of new staff and expensive equipment which can wait for a more healthy, normal environment and time. Deal with the essentials for now, not the fairytales and Unicorns!

What world do these people operate in that they believe it makes sense to increase the tax burden on residents when households are afraid of losing their jobs.

The tax increase could have been framed better. Most people in newtown understand money so you just need to be reasonable when asking for an increase. 

The new proposed tax increase of 178% is totally absurd how is that even possible. That should never ever be allowed is criminally ripping people off. Never heard of such a high high increase. Why is it all of a sudden happening now? At the worst time in wrong !!

1. In the proposed budget letter, there was claims stating that township has suffered from lower income tax revenue which leads to shortage of funds and the need to increase tax. However, it was also stated in March, April and May the income tax fell below the projected, which was in fact due to township allowing residents to defer the tax payment until later in the year. And in September the taxes have been historical high. Therefore, there was no evidence to support the assumption that the income taxes will be lower for next year and to justify the increase of property tax. 2. What's the park& recreation budget for 2019, 2020 and 2021? What portion of this is funded by the grant contribution and how much was from the township?

Similar to those who experience financial issues the township should not continuing with business as usual. Possible capital outlays and increases for salaries, similar to the commercial world, have to be considered not just say taxes increased when the populace is facing an unusually tough year.

Our opposition to this spending is not to say that these things are not important, but 178% increase when our incomes have decreased is a hard pill to swallow. If our healthcare is cut due to Supreme Court Affordable Care Act reversal, I don’t know how we will make ends meet.

This proposed budget is absolute insanity. Democrats already have a reputation for raising taxes, deserved or undeserved. Don't raise taxes and play into the republican narrative. It took a long time to get control of the board and I guarantee you that if taxes are raised, we will lose, and the voters willl have no one to blame but those who vote for it. I have never voted for an R for anything in my life, but if someone runs on the basis of not raising my property taxes, (the SALT deduction for which is now extremely limited to $10,000), I will vote for them regardless of party affiliation. Thanks for surveying our the opinions of the average citizen John, my best as always.

Find more comments from residents here...

*Some redundant comments are not included in the lists.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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