DuBOIS – The DuBois/Sandy Township Consolidation Process Plan Consultants will provide a detailed in-person update to the DuBois/Sandy Township Joint Council at their meeting on Monday.
The information was part of an update provided over the phone by LaToya Winfield Bellamy of consulting firm Eckert Seamans at Wednesday’s DuBois/Sandy Township Consolidation Committee meeting.
“Everyone is probably aware that we continue to attend subcommittee meetings and communicate with council counsel on issues as well,” Bellamy said. “Recently, the administration and finance sub-committees received a presentation regarding the future of various authorities, and a few questions were asked which we were asked to consider. And so, we’re going to work on that, and we’re anticipating some additional requests and questions from some of the subcommittees that are working to wrap up their assignments and recommendations.
LeeAnne Rogers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League (PEL), also a consolidation consultant, discussed the financial assessment over the phone.
“The team is currently reviewing three different analyzes that we are working on,” Rogers said. “We will present the status of these, a look back in terms of historical numbers and projection for Sandy, as well as DuBois. And then we’ll prepare a combined budget based on today’s dollars, today’s observations, which would not include any of the policy decisions that the 10-member committee obviously hasn’t made yet.
Rogers also said the consultants plan to schedule time with members of the finance subcommittee, possibly the week of May 23, to preview this financial analysis.
“I think looking at the schedule puts us at June 8 to present to the committee,” Rogers said. “We are a bit behind our regular budget or original schedule. Unfortunately among my economic league staff we have had, in the past two weeks, a death in the family, one staff member absent for a period of time, two staff members fell with COVID. These are just unavoidable delays that put us a little behind our planned schedule, but I will be reaching out to schedule these previews with some members of the finance committee, including the two managers. And then, I think, anticipate this date of June 8 to make a public presentation.
From there, Rogers said, “as communities begin to make initial policy decisions, we can work with communities to modify the draft budget to incorporate these to reflect policy decisions that communities takes. And so, this type of base budget will be updated over time as these political decisions, negotiations, etc., continue into the future.
Nine-person consolidation committee member Shawn Arbaugh, who is also the township manager, said the consultants were expected to provide the nine-member committee with the following: a draft historical financial valuation and a draft budget combined tax expected by May 1. and deadline established and approved by the nine-member committee at their February 9 meeting. Also, in the consultants’ proposal, they have a deadline of May 15 to provide a financial assessment and analysis of budget trends.
“We’re just getting the update today that it’s going to be late…” Arbaugh said. “The financial assessment was due by May 15, so I understand that, but it probably should have been brought up weeks ago if it was going to be this far behind.”
Arbaugh asked if this delay will impact the rest of the schedule going forward.
“We don’t believe that will be the case,” Bellamy said. “The next item on the schedule in terms of reporting is management control. We are confident that we can continue on schedule. In terms of timing though, the dates…May 15 and June 15, they’re sort of, more or less, goal posts or things to stick to, but they’re not set in stone.
Bellamy asked Rogers if she wanted to add anything to that and Rogers said, “No, I think that sums it all up. I agree. I don’t think this causes a cancellation delay. I obviously apologize, I definitely think with COVID it’s out of our control.
“The dates aren’t set in stone, but the dates are there for a reason,” said committee member Chris Nasuti, who also serves as chair of the public works subcommittee. “So if you (the consultants) could revise a milestone schedule for us based on the meeting dates we have for the nine people and the 10 people, I think it’s important to anticipate when people are going to do their homework. So I don’t want to watch a June 15th issue here and you think June 30th is pretty close. I’d appreciate having a timeline that you’re going to work on.
Committee member Kevin Salandra, who is also a township supervisor, said he believes those dates were set because of delays in securing funding.
“Our understanding, and based on past experience, is that the dates are somewhat of a guide,” Bellamy said. “We are not concerned that DCED will use it negatively that the presentation of the financial analysis will take place on June 8.”
“I’m just going to comment on the letter and your request for proposals (from consultants) that you sent out,” Arbaugh said. “I mean, you have stated that you are fully committed to meeting the schedule and delivering the required reports within the stated deadlines. So it seems quite hard and fast and not a goal post to me.
“Yeah, Shawn, we did. Our proposal was to meet the deadline and, in the first report, the report on financial trends. At this point, the only thing left to do is meetings with city officials to review the report,” Adam M. Shienvold of Eckert Seamans said by phone. “And that’s actually what we added with consultation from[the]lawyer, to make sure that from each municipality and from the finance committee, in general, before we got to the nine-person committee, that we have taken into consideration all the concerns that are present on both sides, of one or the other municipality before publishing the report and the analysis to the full committee of nine people in terms of overall management of the project and deliverable While we apologize for missing the May 15 deadline, our assessment of the tasks is that the remaining tasks remain on track to meet all critical deadlines.
“And the statutory deadline, which is that the deadline for the consolidation plan is well underway, and in large part, thanks to the hard work of the sub-committees and this committee who have gone to great lengths to ensure that there’s a thoughtful analysis so we’re ready to put this together,” Shienvold said. “The upcoming summer deadlines, management control and draft budget are on track. in our minds that we will be able to meet these timelines and complete this project within the timelines required under the Merger Consolidation Act.
Sandy Township Supervisors and the DuBois City Council will hold their next joint consolidation meeting May 16 at 6 p.m. at the DuBois City Building, 16 W. Scribner Ave., DuBois. The meeting will be open to the public.