Says supervisor’s letter left questions unanswered
To the editor:
After waiting for a response from the Armagh Township supervisors, I have to say I am very disappointed that Mr. Boyer did not offer an explanation as to why the general funds were so low or why the township dropped to a $600 balance in the general ledger account in April. Instead he was more concerned about addressing his perceived idea of my misunderstanding of the State Liquid Fuels fund and less concerned about the predicament that the township is in if it has to use Liquid Fuel dollars to pay for expenses that could fall under the general funds account. Every dollar diverted from the Liquid Fuels fund to other expenditures is one less dollar to spend on road maintenance and repairs. The Liquid Fuels fund is a resource that would better serve the township being used for road repairs.
I believe Mr. Boyer still owes an explanation to the taxpayers for the sudden decrease in general funds in 2013. I reviewed the financial audits since Dec. 31, 2008 and could not find one year where the township’s general funds were under $4,000 until Dec. 31, 2013. In fact, the second lowest balance was Dec. 31, 2010 when the balance was $60,668. A possible explanation on why the general funds account had such a low balance is due to the purchase of the old Armagh Elementary School and the money that has been spent to date remodeling the school.
The supervisors made a $222,000 purchase with taxpayers’ money with no input from said taxpayers. When spending that much money on a building why didn’t they hold town hall meetings to find out if community supported the purchase? There was also no fiscal plan developed when purchasing the school. When I asked to see the written plan for the school (minutes from Feb. 3, 2014, page 1), I was told there was no plan. Is this behavior of someone who is acting fiscally responsible? How can you justify spending that much money that belongs to the taxpayers without a plan? The supervisors increased our debt 500 percent but did not offer us a sound fiscal plan on how they would develop the property. How much money has it cost the taxpayers to date to remodel/retrofit the school? Is it a coincidence that the general funds are depleted at the same time they are remodeling the school?
In the Jan. 6, 2014 meeting minutes (page 2), it is noted that the school is a “cash cow” for the township and that “we are sitting on money.” The activities that would go on in the school were, “senior center, library, Zumba, booking for weddings, and a cafeteria. Boyer said maybe a flea market if they get the word out.” It was noted that “they would make enough money to make the bank payments if they rented it out.” At the March 3, 2014 meeting (page 1 of minutes), I asked who conducted the feasibility study on the school to see how plausible it was to generate revenue from the activities mentioned at January’s meeting. Mr. Boyer replied, “no one.” So there is nothing to back up the claim that the school is going to be a “cash cow.” In order to make the bank payments on the building that are roughly $14,500 per year, the township would have to somehow generate $280 per week in rental activities. That does not even take into account how much it will cost to maintain the building; for example, just for January 2014 alone it costs $4,128.64 in propane expenses (as taken from the Snedeker invoices obtained by using Right to Know forms) to heat the unoccupied building. The township currently utilizes two buildings that are smaller with less overhead for maintaining and that carry no mortgages. So what was the rationale to spend that much money on a building that was not necessary? How can we afford to maintain such a big building?
While there may have always been money to pay the bills and make payroll, there has never been a year where they were operating with such a small beginning balance in the general funds account. Even though the revenue ebbs and flows, it still has to be managed responsibly all year long. Last year there was $832,461 in expenditures to the general funds account and our revenue was $797,164 so there was a deficit of $35,297 in the general funds. How does he plan to address that this year? There is no longer a “cushion” in the account for the ebbs. There may be other accounts that can be used in case of a general funds shortfall, but why is the township now in the situation of having to resort to other accounts?
Boyer states in his letter that there were no salary increases but failed to offer an explanation as to why the personnel expenses increased 32 percent. When making statements it always makes you more credible if you can back up your statements with facts. He is sending mixed messages when he says that he believes in doing all he can to keep taxes low, because at the Jan. 7, 2013 meeting when discussing the budget, Mr. Boyer mentioned looking at a tax increase (public minutes, page 4). And again when he stated that he thinks we should run a lean budget, yet spent $220,000 on an unnecessary building and then supported the spending for the remodeling of the building.
We do agree on one point, that the supervisors will never be able to please everybody. I do not agree that most of the residents of Armagh Township are pleased with the progress under the current leadership. Actually many concerned citizens have signed a petition to sell the Armagh school because the purchase is not viewed as progress. If it is Mr. Boyer’s goal to do what is best for the township, then we will anxiously await to see the response to the petition.