The Abington Township 2021 Budget
Please feel free to
your information to us and please be sure
to contact us
about any information you believe to be
Please verify info with your township or Commissioner before relying
on this information. Budgets are complicated- and this one has been purposefully
complicated to remove transparency.
The Proposed 2021 Budget
it here https://www.abingtonpa.gov/departments/finance/final-and-proposed-budget-documents
The good news.... no tax increase.
Last year they
raised your taxes nearly 10% and that was to have been one THIRD
of what this Manager wanted over a 2 year period to fund his
wish list. The other TWO THIRDS were to come
this year. Then Covid hit....... So the "wish list" we
were protesting is impacted more than our actual
--Zoom - Nov 12th, 2020 at 6 pm
It is expected to be passed on to be
advertised for a Dec 10th, 2020 vote.
Between now and Dec 10th you can get up to speed.
Here is the Zoom link for Nov 12 at 6 pm
The bad news ... more Budget
Shenanigans than you can shake a stick at.
These tactics and "manoeuvers" should
concern you greatly. They are designed to prevent oversight.
Manager Richard Manfredi has changed the entire budget process
to include many elements contrary to our interests. From
the removal of workshops that gave us an early view and ample
opportunity for input, to the refusal to answer questions ( even
those he promised publicly he would answer), to the withholding
of the actual budget document until AFTER the first opportunity
to speak on it. Add to all that what I call "Manfredi's War and
Peace", where some of the budget line item explanations are
buried in 100 solid pages that include every little detail
of Township trivia that you can name from every
department, like actual police arrest details, awards, volunteer
work and....you name it . That is all wonderful to know - and
would be great if it wasn't where the important budget details
were hidden. What could be something good is
just a distraction that makes the budget less transparent when
you use that to hide the imprtant details.
All of this Manager's actions are designed for
you to know less about what is going on with your dollars, and
to have less say than you had in the past. So Yes. That should
be of concern.
Last year, many projects
residents might have been averse to were approved simply because
he put them in the huge 4-500 page budget which was
approved with little more than a few minutes comment from
residents who hadn't had any ample opportunity to even read it,
let alone have questions answered. A new Township Building? He
included the study for it. Construction services ( a
"slush fund" in effect)? $100 K approved with no plans for the
projects. Manor Woods Park development ? Another $100K -
and voila ..... approved without any need to bring the project
further before the public. This manner of getting projects
approved is easy as pie. No annoying input from the pesky
residents - there isn't time. Such tactics remove
our voices from the crafting of our own community and any
meaningful oversight of our dollars. There was a nearly 10
% tax hike to accommodate this giant wish list that was thus
approved-- but, as noted above, that was only 1/3 of what
Manager Manfredi wanted. The other 2/3 was supposed to be this
year ------ until Covid hit.
But this year again, the Budget itself was withheld --
this time until AFTER the first presentation of it. And no
further sessions were to be held until Nov 12 when it is
expected to be approved for advertizing. If residents
accept this behavior....you will be sure to get more of it.
The salaries that we will be paying on
when these employees
retire are stunning.
The distressing part is that because
this Manager has modified the methods of the budget
presentation every year since he came (2017) the effect
has been to remove the the simple ability to see
what an employee made last year versus what they are making this
year. The % increase. The Manager has this information, and
COULD have accommodated the rrequest of it , but apparently will
not - and now - less than 24 hours before the
meeting , this has succeeded ikeeping from us what should have
been easily found and reported in the budget pages.
own salary is over $193,000, to manage a $70 Million budget in a
town with 56,000 residents . It is the same as the Governor of
PA who manages a $36 Billion
budget and whose salary is paid by the
12 Million Pennsylvanians he
serves. Our Manager makes far more than the Auditor
General and the Attorney General of PA.
But he is also beginning to create
salaries for others that are above and beyond what you might
ever expect. It is important that we get our budget laid
out so that such things as salaries are easily overseen.
This Manager has removed the information we previously had
that allowed our oversight of salaries and budget matters.
In a year of Covid - where the Township is $5 Million down in
revenues and had to raid the Fund Balance to avoid a tax
increase on a community that has felt the effects of Covid
like all others, why do we have salary increases for some
that are outrageous? In some cases they are not putting in
any commensurate increase in hours - but their salaries have
been upped simply via a change in title. Others employees
or 3rd Parties will have to have picked up the excess.
And it is sad that we are unable to verify the figures properly
or ascertain the exact % .
Some of the Commissioners allowing the Manager to do this are
the same Commissioners, that the Commonwealth,
after the Grand Jury investigation,
declared to be "part of the problem" in the Colonade debacle -----
Commissioner Luker explained, had decided they didn't want to
know about the wrongdoing. Commissioners Spiegelman and
Hecker are among those in that group - and not
surprisingly did not require the Manager's cooperation here.
If they are allowing the Manager to operate in this fashion,
they are , again, part of the problem.
We need to have
In addition, it almost appears as if our Manager is freeing up
his own schedule, have some report to his Secretary/ Assistant
instead of to him and putting Engineer Amy Montgomery first in
charge of both Code and Engineering and now adding a third huge
Department, Public Works to her "Directorship". Wasn't
"Engineer" a full time job? Does she have Public Works
experience? I think those are reasonable questions . How
is the extra load being doled out so it is manageble?
Others will have to take over. Or third party outsource
agencies. Why it is a concern to me, is because Manager
Manfredi wanted to offer his time FREE to be the Executive
Director of the Economic Development Corporation --- the
one that completed it's project while allowing hte Commissioners
to distance themselves from the pesky oversight of
residents and to avoid annoying things like bids.
So, OK -- a lot to unpack. But in government there is
always a LOT going on behind the scenes..........
A Few Miscellaneous Financial
Tidbits for 2021
All operating and capital funds = $67 million.
general fund 44 471 763.
-------- All other operating funds,
-------- general permanent improvement fun
-------- capital fund is $3.4 million
general fund expenditures are $80,000 less than fiscal year 2020
-------- All other operating funds are $1 M less than 2020
-------- page 9 there is a projected $5.3 million loss of
revenue for 2021.
-------- Property tax will generate
--------earned income tax generates 6.6
--------Mercantile taxes and business privilege
taxes 5.2 million.
--------The value of all Township real
estate in 2020 is 3.45 billion
------- -In 2021 all real
estate is expected to be just $857,000 less- still about 3.45
( some repeat here from the summaries
Richard Manfredi, held a Zoom meeting. The Commissioners
had JUST received the Budget documents - but he held the
presentation BEFORE the public was allowed to have them making
their participation virtually meaningless.
gave a summary of some general budget points-
Though Commissioners received a copy ( just prior to the presentation) --
the public was not even afforded
so much as a look at the budget before this
presentation - making the opportunity to question or comment largely meaningless, since,in regard to budgets, the devil is always in the details.
Manager Manfredi had for many months refused
to acknowledge requests to have budget workshop days announced,
so schedules could be cleared.
Apparently that is because he hasn't actually planned any
- nor afforded any meaningful time for
significant changes to the budget
to be addresed.
His intent was, apparently, that on 10-23-20
residents would have access to the 545 page document . Cetainly
that is prior to the meeting where he hopes to garner approval -
but he provided for no proper presentation and
question/answer session where we learn from one another.
When the matter went before the Board on
November 12 it would be approved for advertizing the
same day our questions were asked and our comments made. He
removed the October and November Committee meetings as well
- and likely will remove the December ones. Thos also provide
opportunites for understanding and comment. The final hearing and approval
is anticipated to be on
And of course any
problems would cause the "over the holiday " crunch as well.
Is that Mr. Manfredi's plan? Who wants
to set multiple meetings over the holidays - or attend them?
Our manager promised on 10-22-20 to
answer questions but so far ( by 11-8-20 with 4 days
left before the meeting where he wants approval- has completely
failed to do that. The only question that he attempted to
answer was answered with completely false information, so that
went back to square one.
While the super huge tax
increase that he was intending to bestow upon you
this coming year (right on the heels of the nearly 10 %
he raised it in 2020)
is no longer on the table
due to COVID and $5M less in revenue,
the budget is, nonetheless, a massive mess of
employee positions that have been “switched
around” ... which breaks continuity so increases and
changes in salary are not visible. He has put people, again,
in charge of areas where they have no expertise yet they command
impressive salaries. One full time position, “Engineer”
now seems to convey that the Engineer didn’t really have a full
time job despite the large salary- because she can now also add
on the work of oversight 3 or 4 other major departments or
areas. And you
should be very concerned about the removal of the comparative
salary information – because it took years building that
important information up so it was visible. We were able
to see, for instance, that one staff member had his salary
bumped way up right before his retirement -- a gift he will have
for life that was out of the range of the reasonable raises.
Some salaries now, we believe, have been bumped up way out of
proportion – especially for current economic times.
Manfredi continues his habit of filling the pages of the
budget with thousands upon thousands of irrelevant material
(“War and Peace” in effect) that are completely unrelated to the
budget and merely distract from finding and understanding the
things that explain increases and decreases in the numbers.
Buried inside the endless paragraphs is the reason, for
instance, that the police canine budget was decreased But
you would have to wade through endless pages unrelated to any
This, in my opinion, is “mismanagement” that should not
be allowed to continue.
We cannot simply express concern… if we want Abington to
stay fiscally sound and have proper oversight, we need to get
residents involved in overseeing the budget operations and in
REQUIRING your Commissioners
to see that proper oversight mechanisms are
INSTALLED – not
REMOVED as this Manager is
doing. Keep in mind, if you read the
Colonade testimony filed in the courts ... the Commissioners
chose not to know about the details of the wrong-doing of
the Solicitor and the Commissioner who was Vice President of the
Board. One option was to charge them . But instead that
Solicitor is still at his job - and the Commissioner is at the
County now . You cannot protect your constiuents if you close
your eyes and ears to wrong-doing This manager has also
removed speaking rights and is closing down transparency, even
via the lack of access to various areas of the Township
Building. If your
Commissioner condones this, the trend will continue.
There is need for
attention to these processes …. and for voices that will reverse
such a course. There is a need to watch where our money is
going in this non-transparent way.
See the budget here:
tuned for more on the 2021 Proposed