Urges Armagh Township residents to pay attention

To the editor:

The residents and taxpayers of Armagh Township deserve better from their supervisors. Their poor fiscal management has the township running on an extremely lean budget. At the April 7 meeting there was a list of unpaid bills for the township that totaled $49,964.69, and it was announced that the general ledger balance had “roughly” a $600 balance. From the list of the unpaid bills, approximately $15,222.13 could be paid from the state liquid fuels fund (the liquid fuels fund is restricted to be used only for specific purposes such as roads, so typical operating expenses cannot be paid from this fund). This means that the township already started this month with outstanding bills totaling almost $35K and can probably expect a similar amount to be due for April.

I encourage you to exercise your right to know and stop by the township office and ask for copies of the 2012 and 2013 financial audit reports. According to the audit report, the ending general fund balance on Dec. 31, 2013 was $3,766; the beginning balance had been $69,777. That was a decrease of almost 95 percent in financial resources as compared to 2012 when there was only an 8 percent decrease (beginning balance was $76,069 and ending balance on Dec. 31, 2012, $69,777). What is even more alarming is the debt for 2012 was $38,009.75 as compared to 2013 when it increased to $232,882.55; an increase of 513 percent. Personnel/employee compensation also increased almost 32 percent from $194,065 in 2012 to $255,521 in 2013. If financial resources (excluding restricted funds) at the beginning of the year were around $3,700 and our current checking account balance was at $600 and expenses and debt are increasing at an alarming rate, then there is a spending problem that needs to be addressed.

At the April meeting when supervisor/chairman of the board, Mr. (Glen) Boyer, was asked if he planned to present the people of Armagh Township with a spending plan, his answer was “no.” Not only is that answer fiscally irresponsible it is unacceptable from an elected official. When you are responsible for money that does not belong to you, you must be operating with a plan on how you are going to manage resources; especially when you are running a budget as lean as the current township budget appears to be. Then it is even more critical to have a plan in place in order to meet the financial obligations of the township to ensure the welfare and safety of your residents. When asked how the township would meet payroll if revenue was not received on time, Mr. Boyer said he would take funds from “another account.” This sounds like a classic example of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and it appears as though right now the township is living “paycheck to paycheck.”

Historically the trend seems to be that the month of May is the highest revenue month for the township; however, when unpaid bills are accumulating the expected revenue for May will not sustain the township very long. What will happen in June and July (using 2013 as a reasonable point of reference), when revenue is at its lowest?

Maybe the supervisors think that by raising taxes next year they will solve their financial problems; unfortunately, throwing more money at the problem is not going to solve the spending problem. I would encourage you to plan to attend the monthly meetings that are held the first Monday of every month; the next meeting is Monday, May 5. It is time we start holding our supervisors accountable and demand transparency on spending and make them present the residents with a plan on how they plan to cut spending.

At past meetings they were not interested in providing answers on how to fix the problem. When did elected officials not have to answer to the taxpayers? We need to be proactive instead of reactive because once the township is completely financially distressed it is going to be much harder to fix the problem. Now is the time for change in Armagh Township.

Amy Seachrist