Letter to the Editor: Disappointed with Norristown Council Committee Assignments
Councilwoman Dr. Mary DeSouza submitted the following letter to the editor following Monday's Norristown Municipal Council reorganization meeting.
Tonight during the Norristown Council meeting, re-elected Council President Gary Simpson formed the committees that are associated with critical departments within the Norristown Municipality. In those appointments he chose not to appoint me to a single committee.
In my first year on council, I was the Chair of the Personnel Committee and Co-Chair of the Public Safety-Code Committee. In my second year, I was appointed (by Gary Simpson) to Chair the Public Safety-Code Committee and was a Co-Chair on Finance/Personnel and Administration.
In my time on these committees I have been very active. As the Chair of the Personnel Committee in my first year, I worked closely with the then Chair of Public Works, Bill Procyson, to ensure the equitable and efficient hiring of new Public Works Director. That Public Works Director, Robert Glisson, has gone on to perform an exceptional job in that role, saving the tax payer significant money in cost overruns and finding additional grant funding for Public Works projects.
In my second year, as the Chair of the Public Safety-Code Committee I have worked diligently with the Code Department to find significant cost savings. For example this past budget we were able cut the budget 9% from the previous budget cycle, and at the same time hire a more efficient Building Code Inspection firm and purchase a new more effective mobile software in order to database our Codes information. The purchase of the new software will make every Norristown Code Inspection agent more effective and efficient in the field, again doing more with fewer tax-payer dollars.
My hope had been to continue my work on the Public Safety-Code Committee to push to ensure that our ordinances were enforced on obtaining the Names and Employer Information of every Renter in Norristown. This information provides the basis by which we are legally able to collect the Earned Income Tax (EIT) from residents. We have had the requirement of landlords to provide us that information since 2006 but it has not been enforced within the Municipality.
This is not a trivial matter. Over 7000 residences within Norristown are rental units. The vast majority of those are a minimum of 2 units per address. If there are 2 adults per unit that is some 28,000 adults that live in rental properties. If we only collected $100 EIT from each of these people that would be $2.8 million dollars in additional revenue for Norristown per year. Rest assured this is a rough and likely very low estimate of the potential lost revenue in not collecting this information.
While it is the Council President’s prerogative to decide how committees will be structured and who among Council would sit on these committees, I am disappointed by his decision to not place me on a committee. I do want to ensure residents of Norristown that even though I will not be on a committee I will continue to do the hard work to ensure that your tax dollars are used effectively to make Norristown a better place to live.