2022 CHB Budget Review
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Chester Heights Borough ( CHB)
As a former and future Chester Heights Borough Councilmember with over 20 years of experience in finance, I am excited to use my skills and understanding to review the Chester Heights 2022 proposed budget to ensure responsible use of borough funds. The analysis is limited to the 2022 budget and contains a few references to actual 2021 expenditures which are not yet publicly available. Below is a summary of concerns submitted to the full council via email for review, comment, and correction. The next borough Council meeting is is scheduled for 7pm on Nov 22nd, 2021. I am hopeful that council will review and address these issues as presented.
361.33 Solicitor Reimbursement (receipts): $6,000 404.31 Solicitor Reimbursement (expense): $3,400
This is a pass-through account. The amount collected should be equal the amount paid to the solicitor. Why is the borough projecting a retention of $2600 of the pass-through fees that should be paid to the solicitor?
Proposed Corrective Action: Increase 404.31 Expense by $2600 to $6000.
361.32 Engineer Reimburse (receipts): $24,000 408.31 Engineer Reimburse (expense): $12,000
This is a pass-through account. The amount collected should be equal the amount paid to the engineer. Why is the borough projecting a retention of $12,000 of the pass-through fees that should be paid to the solicitor?
Proposed Corrective Action: Increase 408.31 Expense by $12,000 to $24,000.
362.10 Bldg Permit (receipts): $75,100 413.55 Richard Jensen Bld Insp: $36,000
This is a quasi-pass-through account where 50% of the receipts are to be paid to the inspector, and 50% are to be used by the borough for the administration of permits. Based on this calculation account 413.55 should be budgeted at a minimum of $37,550. However, in the past Mr. Jensen has only collected half of the fees due to him each year, and therefore a liability is created for the following year at 25% of the prior year receipts. He does this at his discretion and not through a written agreement.
Proposed Corrective Action: Review 2021 permit fees and calculate the remaining liability to Mr. Jensen on permits issued in 2021. Confirm that the amount in the budget is sufficient to cover those liabilities and 50% of the BLDG permit receipts. Without a written agreement the full 50% and prior year liabilities can be deemed due in 2022 and should be captured in the budget.
361.05 Misc Grants: $60,000
Which Grants are these? The only publicly announced grant was from the County for $50,000. Is this the grant this is referring to? If yes, where is the extra $10,000 coming from? If no, what grants income is this referencing?
389.00 Prior Year Carry Over: 50,000
Please confirm that this is not a double count of the Delaware County Grant but is instead a carryforward used to offset the expenses budgeted for 2022 from the surplus.
411.11 Fire Co. Water Rescue Equip: $0
The 2021 budget included $18,000 for the Fire Company Water Rescue. To date the borough has paid approximately $8,000 to the fire company with $10,000 due. This commitment should be included in the 2022 General Fund budget.
Proposed Corrective Action: Include the $10K commitment to the fire company for water rescue equipment in the 2022 budget under account 411.11.
409.09 Community Pk Walk Trai: $24,000
The 2021 budget for the walking trail was $17,000. This is an increase of $7,000. Why did the budget increase? Was the scope expanded?
Proposed Corrective Action: Include a list of proposed expenditures as an addendum to the publicly available budget.
409.15 Com Park Lights: $37,000
Public fund in the amount of $37,000 are being approved in the budget for the installation of soccer field lights at the Chester Heights Park. This is 5% of our overall expense budget and yet this proposal has not been discussed in full by the council in a public meeting. There is much to consider regarding this expenditure including the cost, the light pollution, disruption to surrounding homes and the incremental benefit for the borough if any.
Proposed Corrective Action: No action requested on the budget. However, we should plan to communicate with residents on the proposal prior to approval in 2022.
409.12 DiSalvo Prk Seasonal Dec: $7,000
This is the highest seasonal cost I have seen for DeSalvo Park. What expenses are included in the in this calculation? Does this include the potential to install electricity/water at the park?
Proposed Corrective Action: If yes, rename the account to accurately reflect the expense as in 2021.
406.10 General Expense: $1,900 406.40 Office Expense: $5,300
What expenses are included in these categories?
Inquiry only no corrective action requested.
PRELIMINARY AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUND:
431.38 MS4 Storm Basins: $70,000
The borough has a surplus of over $1M. The rescue plan gives us additional funds in the amount of $270,000 for 3 purposes: water, sewer and broadband. The MS4 has been in the general fund budget in prior years. It is my position that the funds from the plan should be used to extend water and sewer infrastructure.
The Borough Could Instead:
Install water at the parks.
Extend the sewer line down Lewellyn from Rose Hill.
Offer small grants to help homeowners tie into public sewer.
Work with the fire company to identify and then install fire hydrants at underserved locations.
Identify all storm water inlets along borough and state roads and fix them.
Reach out to the community to identify and fix storm water issues on properties caused by inadequate storm water management from our roads.
I look forward to discussing these ideas further next year but am concerned that with the proposed budget the funding for actual implementation will be inadequate.