To the editor:
As a supervisor in Armagh Township, I would like to respond to Mr. Boyer's letter claiming that Armagh Township is not experiencing financial problems. It is not entirely true when Mr. Boyer said that the township has always been able to meet their financial obligations. In fact, Mr. Boyer's own monthly health insurance premiums, which are paid by the taxpayers, that were due on March 25 and on April 24 could not be paid in time due to lack of funds. Payment for both months was not mailed until May 1 with check No. 11963 in the amount of $4,312.56, and the check was not cashed until May 7, so his March premium was 43 days late. So, for Mr. Boyer to say that the township is not experiencing financial problems is simply not true because being late paying bills is an indication of financial distress. As he discovered first-hand, the State Liquid Fuels fund is not a safety net for not having adequate general funds.
At the first meeting of this year in January, when discussing how tight the budget is, Mr. Boyer said that we should look at a tax increase, which again contradicts what he wrote in his May 16 letter. The tax increase comment is noted in the official minutes of the supervisor's meeting minutes that were approved by all three supervisors at the February meeting. At the recessed meeting Jan. 10, Mr. Boyer said they would accept the budget as is but, "would try to make cuts where they can," then he continued to approve purchases and spending for remodeling the old Armagh school, so it is not quite clear where he plans to make cuts.
As a new supervisor not only is the fiscal management troubling to me, it is also shocking to see how business is being conducted in the township. At the April 7 supervisor's meeting when I questioned when we hired a part-time employee and said something like that should be brought up at a public meeting, I was told by Mr. Boyer. "it could be decided at any time - if two supervisors agree, we don't have to wait for a meeting." Again, these comments are noted in the official minutes that were approved by all three supervisors at the May meeting. This attitude and behavior is troubling for several reasons. First, the Sunshine Law was enacted because secrecy in public affairs undermines the public's trust and the law was passed to deter behavior such as this from occurring outside public meetings. Second, while not legally required to advertise a job opening, it would be in the township's best interest to do so as to not open the township to allegations of discriminating in employment and recruiting practices. Last, why should the township be paying part-time wages when we were late meeting financial obligations? The better solution would be to make do with the personnel resources that we currently have in place.
The township may employ a manager and the easiest, although cowardly, excuse to the taxpayers for being late on paying township bills would be to blame that person instead of being personally accountable. But ultimately it is the supervisors' responsibility to ensure sound fiscal management of the township so that financial obligations can be met on time. It is not sound fiscal management when you run out of general funds and have to resort to funds earmarked for specific purposes, such as equipment and roads, in order to pay operating expenses like computer hardware/software, payroll and benefits. And it certainly is not sound fiscal management when health insurance premiums are paid late due to lack of funds. I was elected into office during the midst of a financial mess in the township and while I may be fighting an uphill battle, the least I will do is be honest and transparent with the residents and taxpayers. After all, that is what they deserve.
Gregg "Bones" Bitner
Armagh Township Supervisor