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Ridley Park Borough Council Meeting - Controlled, Contrived

I was very concerned how the local Republican leader orchestrated our October Borough Council Meeting last night.  I'm a long time Ridley Parker and I never have seen a council meeting where the Republican Party Leader has free reign to show off his monetary influence. I've witnessed first hand how much power this one person has to orchestrate our Borough Council.

We heard his speech. How he repeatedly mentioned IBEW 98, his name, and how much money his union gives to Ridley Park.  We know where his money come from. The question is why does a Philadelphia based union contribute to a small Delaware County community ?

The biggest orchestrated deception we witnessed was Councilor Paul Matus telling Councilor Dan Broadhurst that owing 1.2 million in bills and having 800,000.00+ to pay with doesn't mean Ridley Park is overspending.  According to the Borough independent auditor 2014 was the third year in a row that Ridley Park had deficit spending. Taxes were raised in Ridley Park last year and deficit spending continues!

Councilor Mattus's answer to Councilor Broadhurst on the matter was; "what type of accounting are you using" to determine your figures?  If I use basic math skills to figure out this problem I still see that Ridley Park is facing a deficit for a fourth year in a row.  Instead of revealing this important news Council Member Berger instead barked at Councilor Broadhurst and asked Broadhurst how he could make such a comment at a Borough Council meeting.  The question is when should important financial matters be discussed with the public ? Instead Councilor Berger granted the head of the local Republican party a theatrical show.

Thank you Dan for asking obvious questions to a political group that continues to deceive the residents of Ridley Park.  Rather than provide a straight forward answer and a review of the Auditor's report, Councilor Glen, Berger and Mattus shut down any opposition and any questioning. They limit public comments to five minutes and then they answer with their smoke and mirrors accounting. 

Next, the Borough Manager added that we have TWO general accounts and some money is not seen on one of the accounts.   Are you kidding me?  Why do we have two accounts and one that is "invisible"?  We were told that this second account was created because the first general fund's account numbers were exposed and we needed to change to a new account?  That was two years ago.  Another lie that continues to be perpetuated and used to deceive. 

The most frequent deception that this council uses when discussing finances is grouping the Capital Reserve Fund with the total money available. The truth is, Council knows it cannot be used to pay bills.  The Borough has $800K in total money available. Subtract The Capital Reserve fund ($300K), and subtract the Liquid Fuel Funds and you understand with basic math that Ridley Park has a financial problem.

We learned that the new acting chief Corporal Bobby Frasier has practically cut the overtime from the police and he has only been in charge of scheduling for a few months.  What we did not hear about was how Mark Bascelli, the previous acting chief, was allowed two years to give himself overtime and bust our budget. The response from Councilor Holly O'Mahoney was, " We let the police , police themselves." 

It's amazing.  No talk of the amount of money that our previous acting chief stashed away, while we let him police himself.  Apparently after spending all of this money everything is great now and we have more money left to pay bills this year. Apparently we have more money than we did at this time last year according to the borough manager. If we spent extra hundreds of thousands on our ex-acting police chief and the Borough's Auditor says the Borough has deficit spending in several areas, the question is why is no one telling us Ridley PArk is operating in a deficit? 

Bob Berger interjected a seemingly bright note that there was great financial news.  Our Engineer negotiated $220,000.00 for street resurfacing.  Ok, the truth that is not being told is the Utility companies traditionally give Ridley Park money to resurface the areas they tear up. In truth they are paying the Borough to do the utility company's street work and the Borough is gaining NO income!  This IS NOT an additional $220K in income in the Borough's General Fund. The truth is this $220,000 is not revenue, it is to repair the streets that were torn up by the Utility company!

We also learned that Ridley Park is waiting on money from the county to pay for basin clean out at The Lake, but the county hasn't committed any money yet.  Ridley Park has to coerce the county (who gave us Shale money two years ago to clean the lake and silt basin) that other communities along the Ridley Crum Creek stream add to the silt that runs down stream to it's resting place in Ridley Park's silt basin before it flows into The Lake. 

When it comes to one of the most precious resources our Borough owns, I'd like to know what is going to be done about the weed that has overtaken the lake perimeter?  Councilor Glenn told us this a new place for wildlife to live and "The Lake" as we know it, and "The Lake" we knew growing up in Ridley Park will not be the lake of the future.  It takes money to keep "The Lake" the way Parker's want, and it takes money that has been diverted to other Borough activities.  Councilor Glenn has concurred with the Ridley Crum Creek Association that increasing the habitat around the pond is a better way to keep the lake.

Look at The Lake we grew up with and look at our Borough's most precious resource. I believe The Lake is being neglected for financial reasons brought about by this Borough Council and their decisions.  I served on Borough Council and asked every hard question. I never steered away from a discussion and I never stayed quiet.

As you are walking to the polls on November 3rd I hope to be standing by the front door of every precinct and greeting everyone who comes out to cast their vote in a very important election.  I want to see a very big turn out for my belief in transparency. I want to see a big turn out for the return of common math in handling the Borough's finances. Or, I want to see a big turn out supporting the actions and principles of the incumbent Borough Council. I want to see a turn out that tells me I am wrong and math with smoke and mirrors is right for Ridley Park.

I believe Ridley Park deserves better than a politically orchestrated October Borough Council show. I believe Ridley Park needs to preserve The Lake and I believe Ridley Park Borough Council needs to provide the citizens with a clear financial picture of Ridley Park while limiting the political influence from outside unions from other towns. I believe Ridley Park deserves better.

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Comment by Howard McCoy on October 30, 2015 at 10:19am

@Hollywood151.  I'm with you and your parents.  My family didn't know Ridley Park was in the red until I read the actual details from the Borough's auditor. The Borough's official auditor is listed as the source on the flier you posted. They are the outside source who independently audits the Borough's books.  The audit's about more than +'s and -'s it's denotes that proper accounting techniques were applied, accounts were used correctly, and it tells the sources of the +'s and -'s.

Unless we're worried about a hostel takeover by Ridley Township what's wrong with real transparency in the Borough's Budget. Granted there are legal employment issues, but those aside, why can't the Borough's monthly publish the budget online and let the resident's have a look at it? Would sharing the Borough's budget to the public be akin to giving away trade secrets, military advantages, radar positions, or insider trading? 

We do the similar thing in our household. We spot over spending, we shift finances, we pay bills and we balance our check book and accounts. We also have an accountant and others who help with our financial picture.  These tasks are identical to the tasks of Ridley Park's finance committee. They have an accountant and they take help from outside sources. I'm believe better input in this process will improve Ridley Park.  From the Same Old we will get the Same Old.

In the past several years I've never heard a sound, forward-looking explanation of RP's budget; only bickering. The bickering I've heard is from Council members denying residents assistance with the budget.  I've heard Council Members say that preliminary budget numbers are not made public.  I've hear CM's announce deadline dates for individual committee budget deadlines, and announce the dates for CM's to agree on the budget BUT I never hear when this is shared with the public...maybe I missed all that?

I have witnessed three or four annual auditor reports in person and it is listening to sawdust fall. The audio is poor and the report is lighting fast covering details that auditors like to discuss. Following an overview of their report there's NO public questioning; and really, there's no significant questioning by anyone on Council either.  So this left me not knowing for several years how the budget was really, I mean really, doing. We're told two stories and no one is allowed to questions anyone for fear of being labeled stupid.  So Hollywood I'm with your family too.

Comment by Kevin KOB on October 30, 2015 at 9:52am
All good points, Jared.
Although some of the names have changed these issues have been going on for years and years. I offered to audit the books for free years ago. But the entire council was against it. My resume includes a law license, CPA, CIA, CFE, and CMA. In fact, I recall someone running for council just before my one such offer. He came to my house,and promised change and to push for transparency, etc. We exchanged emails on the issues. Then he was elected. Afterward, he didn't carry out any of those promises and even turned the cheek when carrying out basic responsibilities. Perhaps, you recall his name.
Comment by tim devabey on October 29, 2015 at 7:38pm

@Hollywood 151,  The topic of School District property tax increases in the Ridley School District (and all of PA) was discussed elsewhere on RPOL.  Search for related blogs.  Supposedly our Representative Nick Miccarelli co-sponsored HB/SB-76 which is a proposal to fund public education in the State by means other than Tax on Private Residences.  Yes the increases have been relentless, and the foreclosures/sheriff's sales are at an all time high--not a good way to maintain a stable community.  Chasing out the elderly who built the community is really a disgraceful way to "govern." Don't quit without a fight.  PS: former Ridley Superintendent Ignatiuk and his wife took their Ridley retirement pensions which we the taxpayers pay for and LEFT PENNSYLVANIA.

Comment by Linda Shockley on October 29, 2015 at 6:26pm

What would it take to get an independent audit of RP's books & who can arrange it?

Comment by Hollywood 151 on October 29, 2015 at 2:39pm

I didn't know RP's financial situation was so bad. My parents watch the council meetings and they I didn't know there was a deficit like this until this flier.  There was a tax hike before and they got upset  and didn't know if this deficet was true or not. They have a fixed income. My dad doesn't get a cost of living increase with his pension and he wanted to sell their house the last time the taxes were hiked up. Does this mean taxes will go up?

Comment by Nina on October 28, 2015 at 8:41pm
Hollywood 151. Tim is right. I have attended many of the council meetings the last 2 years. The finance questions were asked over and over. The finance committee chair, councilor Mattus, never answers the question. He said we don't have a problem. The audit report for 2014 showed these deficits.
Comment by tim devabey on October 28, 2015 at 7:37pm

@Hollywood 151,  I've heard questions raised about the Borough's finances at nearly every Council meeting over the last two years (or more). If the numbers shown on the graph are anywhere near accurate, obviously it takes two years or more for the downward trend to be identified as a "trend" rather than simply a one year deficit, cost overrun or unexpected expenditure...  What I don't see represented on the graph is the huge Solicitor's (Legal) costs for Code and Ordinance rewriting and Code enforcement over the past year and a half.

Comment by Hollywood 151 on October 28, 2015 at 4:41pm

For Jared Brennan: I received a flier from your campaign. Can you explain to me how this deficit is coming to light now, before the election, and why we didn't hear about this earlier?

Comment by Raider2003 on October 28, 2015 at 8:09am

Can someone explain why we do not have the most qualified council member running the budget? And if Paul if the most qualified we need serious help. It seems the pass two council members who ran the budget (Glenn and Mattus) did/do not have a clue about financing. They both dodge questions about the budget and hide behind numbers that no one else can figure out. When Gale asks what I see as a basic question about the “Total Fund Available vs What We Have Left to Pay”, Mattus dodges the question and tries to make Gale look stupid. Same goes for Broadhurst, we asked a basic question about Capital Reserve and Mattus and Berger make is seem like Dan needs to go back to school. Which if Howard point is accurate, and they usually are, Mattus and Berger are wrong and they do use the Capital Reserve to pay basic bills. My question is Does Mattus run the budget or just oversee someone else running the budget, and either how can we as a borough control who runs the budget/ oversees the budget? We need someone who isn’t afraid to own up the a budget short fall and answer the tough questions to give the community a piece of mind that we are trying to fix the problem

Comment by Jim McGowan on October 28, 2015 at 12:46am

Howard or Jared:

"I'm told the activities of the police, recreation, and highway aid funds have had to be subsidized by the Borough's capital reserve fund."

Is this even legal? Aren't there accounting rules that prohibit this type of transferring of funds?

Thank you.

Jim McGowan

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