Swarthmore Borough Council
By Katie Crawford
At the August 1st meeting of borough council, InR Advisors of Media, Pa., was unanimously approved to manage the borough’s pension plan. The plan has been managed by the Pierce Park group for the past eight years.
Michael Carey, head of the Finance Committee, stated that while council has been pleased with the work of Pierce Park, their expense ratio was higher than hoped for, prompting council to seek competing offers from InR and Vanguard. Both the Pension and Finance and Community Development committees spent a great deal of time reviewing the proposals put forth. Ultimately InR was unanimously recommended by both committees.
There were three primary reasons given for selecting InR. First, due to their use of index funds their administrative costs are lower. Second, while all three consulting groups have excellent references, InR in particular, received strong praise from municipalities with similarly sized pension plan portfolios to the borough. Finally, InR has familiarity with the “unique requirements of municipal pension benefits” such as early retirement options and the taxability of retirement income.
Ross Schmucki, head of the General Government Committee, expressed his appreciation for the amount of time both committees devoted to this process, noting that each proposal was in excess of 100 pages. Schmucki also noted how lucky council and the borough was to have Michael Carey as the head of the Finance Committee given his experience in the financial industry. Carey heads Carey Investment Solutions, a private investment firm, and was previously a managing director at Blackrock.
Budget Process Begins
Council is anticipating beginning its work on next year’s budget. An initial step in this process will be soliciting requests from local community groups and department heads regarding their expected expenses in the coming year. As part of this process, council is also going to encourage department heads and local community groups to take a look at the recommendations of the Aging-in-Place committee and to consider what additional costs implementation of these recommendations might entail. In addition to basic expenses, council will also hear “extraordinary requests,” one time proposals to make possible a specific program or idea.
Mary Walk, head of the Planning and Zoning Committee, spoke briefly to council about the pending application from Headstrong.org which seeks to offer housing to families whose loved ones are undergoing cancer treatment. The proposed site is located at 200 S. Chester Rd. Their application will be heard on August 17.
David Creagan, head of the Public Safety Committee, reported on the borough engineer’s recommendations for traffic calming measures on Yale Avenue at the last public safety meeting which was well attended by residents. One of the recommendations that will be implemented immediately is the placement of a digital “this is your speed” sign. More costly proposals include the construction of “bump outs” which, while forcing drivers to slow down, would also impact the bike lanes. Signage or temporary speed bumps were also recommended as possibilities. Creagan described the meeting as very thorough and lasting over two hours. PennDOT recommends that before the borough does anything, they share with the community what they intend to do so that residents can respond to the possible impact of proposals. Already approved by PennDOT and slated for completion soon are pedestrian crossing signs and push buttons for pedestrians who need to cross at the intersections of Yale and Rutgers, Yale and Chester Rd., and Harvard and Chester Rd.
Mayor Tim Kearney reminded council of the upcoming First Friday event in the borough, which will include a BBQ in the amphitheater. He spoke of how gratifying it has been to see the amount of activity in Central Park Swarthmore including the ongoing Farmers Market, the library’s use of the amphitheater for their summer programs, as well as simply the presence of people enjoying their coffee or lunch throughout the day.