Lansdale Borough received a huge pat on the back during Local Government Week from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in recognition of its fiscal accountability and best management practices.
At the April 18 council meeting, Administration and Finance Committee Chairman Dan Dunigan said he, Council President Matt West, Councilman Paul Clemente, borough Manager Timi Kirchner, finance director Brian Shapiro and assistant finance director Brian McGowan attended the 16th Annual Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence Ceremony the day prior in Harrisburg.
Each year, the Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence recognizes local governments and officials that have found creative ways to improve their communities, according to its website.
"We were lucky enough to attend a function put on by the folks out of the Capitol, and what this was was an award ceremony," Dunigan said. "It covered a whole group of things, but there was only one award for this plaque and it was given to your borough."
The plaque read:
Over a two year period, the Borough of Lansdale studied its system of fiscal and internal controls and implemented changes that will safeguard the interests of all taxpayers. By improving its system of internal controls, the borough has created a reliable and creditable process that will enhance the financial and policy decision making process for elected officials, management and staff.
"It gives me great pleasure, just after two years on the job, when the group of us that campaigned for a better Lansdale, based on financial accountability and best practices, to get an award that recognizes just that," Dunigan said. "It is clearly a team effort. It is not something I did, not something Matt did, Timi, Brian and Brian; it's something the entire staff did."
Dunigan said council "took a lot of heat" and it will continue to in this town.
"That's all part of the job," he said.
He said the borough enlisted the help of a lot of outsiders, professionals and consultants to get them where they need to be.
He said the borough did it differently than what happens most of the time: consultants provide reports and the reports gather dust.
"(The reports) do not gather dust. They become plans of action. Those plans then become implemented," Dunigan said. "It's those plans of action that resulted in this."
Dunigan said Lansdale was the only borough out of those who received awards.
"We were clearly the only one that did it in two years," he said.
"This is a great day for Lansdale to be recognized in such a fashion," Dunigan said. "We are deeply appreciative to the staff and everyone involved."
Kirchner said she has been in the business long enough to know to get something this amazing done in a short period of time is nothing short of stunning.
"When I first arrived as one of these consultants, I was asked to do an operations study. To the credit of the staff, they were wide open as to what this borough had and didn't have," Kirchner said. "What it didn't have was an internal control system related to our financing and human resources. There was no such thing."
Kirchner thanked council for providing the resources needed to complete an internal control system. She also recognized Leon DeRosa, who spent several months with the borough and studied the finances of the borough.
"When he did his presentation, he said the staff of this borough was extraordinarily wide open and very forthcoming on what we had, what we didn't have and what we needed to do," she said.
Kirchner said she worked with council and saw the will of council, and she worked with staff and saw the skill of the staff. Those things were big parts that made her decide to accept the job with Lansdale.
"I thought, 'We can get this done.' These are not reports that go up on a shelf. We can get this done," she said.
She said the borough has all the internal controls in place in the finance system, and thanked McGowan and Shapiro for their dedication.
"The finance department needed that accountant that paid attention to every little detail and worked very, very hard with the Department of Community and Economic Development," Kirchner said of McGowan.
The best management practices portion of the award took into consideration the borough's ongoing implementation of its new Human Resources system. Kirchner recognized and thanked the borough Human Resources steering committee members for their efforts.
"I am one very grateful, grateful, grateful borough manager," she said. "I've landed in Lansdale, a place that is very serious about doing things right and getting things done. We don't put things up on the shelf."
She said the room that evening needed to feel good about the work of the entire team.
"We were one of nine in the Commonwealth to receive this award and the only one in this county," she said.
Earlier in the meeting, West announced that last week, April 15 to April 21, was Local Government Week. He thanked councilmembers and Mayor Andy Szekely for their time, commitment and energy to the borough.
"We all care about the town. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we all got involved," West said. "Being a part of this team has been an unbelieveable experience, while working for betterment of Lansdale."