YARDLEY BOROUGH >> The Yardley Borough Council on September 1 unanimously passed a resolution appointing investment banker Matt Curtin to an opening on council.
Curtin will fill out the remainder of Ryan Berry’s term, which expires on Jan. 3, 2022. Berry submitted his resignation in late July, eight months after being appointed to a council vacancy.
“I think I’ve demonstrated I have an interest in being involved,” said Curtin, who has applied three times for an appointment to council. “And I think I have the skills that can be additive to Council.”
Council was particularly impressed with Curtin’s financial acumen, including his extensive background in cash flow analysis and his knowledge of municipal budgeting.
Council selected Curtin from a field of five candidates who were publicly interviewed during council's Sept. 1 Zoom meeting.
"I feel very conflicted tonight, but I did come here with the goal of appointing the person who I think is most qualified to bring financial acumen to the table and to help us plan for the future and become more financially healthy," said Council Vice President Caroline Thompson, in motioning to appoint Curtin to fill the vacancy.
Feiner agreed with Thompson's choice.
“To me, the question is what does council most need right now in this unprecedented time with an unknown future in terms of our financial situation? I defer to the chair of general government (Caroline Thompson) who says we need expertise in finance. It’s about having the right person for the right situation."
Curtin, who grew up in Lower Makefield and graduated from Pennsbury High School, the Pennsylvania State University and the Wharton School, moved to the borough in 2009 where he lives with three children.
Curtin works for Bank of America Merrill Lynch as an investment banker where he does credit syndication and helps companies raise capital in the bond market.
When he’s not working, he’s volunteering with the Pennsbury Athletic Association where he serves as vice commissioner of the youth baseball and softball organization. He also serves on the finance advisory board at the business school at Penn State.
“I have a lot of experience working in a not-for-profit context. I have a background in finance. I have an MBA from the Wharton School. And I think I have a good demeanor. I like working in teams,” he told council. “I have no agenda other than to come in and try to be helpful. Mostly I think I’ll learn a lot.”
Councilwoman Caroline Thompson asked Curtin for his insights into the borough’s budget and financial health, explaining that she is looking for a candidate with financial acumen to round out the board.
“Next year, to balance the budget, we’re going to have to decide between making cuts or an incremental tax increase. I’m wondering your opinion on those two options,” she asked Curtin.
Curtin, who attended council meetings back in 2016 during discussions of an earned income tax in the borough, summed up the borough’s budget as a revenue not an expenditure problem.
“Part of the problem is your millage has been stagnant, he said. “One way to have an inflationary revenue line that’s more in line with the inflationary cost of your expenses is to move to something like taxing income. I think we heard loud and clear there’s not a lot of appetite in the borough for that and I’m not in favor of it.
“I am in favor of millage increases,” he continued. “The increase we had in 2016 was the first in an extended period of time and we haven’t had one since. What we really need is increased funding to replenish rainy day funds and long term capital improvements.”
When asked by Councilman John McCann about his commitment to the position, Curtin said throughout his career he has demonstrated his commitment to sticking with organizations and has added value to them.
If appointed, Curtin said he intends to hit the ground running. “I intend to come in and sprint for that period of time to make an impact.”
Curtin, however, said he doesn’t plan on running for election when his appointed term expires.
“I don’t like the idea of campaigning and raising money. My intention right now is not to run on the ballot. I’m also not sure if that would go well with my employer. They’re okay with an appointed position. I’m not sure how they’d be with an elected one. But in complete transparency I will say if this is fun and it’s going well and I can add some value I do want to keep that door open.”
Others stepping up to fill the vacancy were Dawn Perlmutter, who has an academic, law enforcement and government consulting background; Dan Mohn, a former council member and investment professional; Victoria Czechowski, the founder of a start-up company with a background in consumer healthcare and marketing; and Brad Levine, an information technology professional with New Jersey-based PCH Technologies.
Thompson encouraged the candidates who weren’t selected to consider applying for a commission or board opening in the borough.
“Every time we go through this process it frustrates me that all five of these candidates do not serve the borough on any boards or commissions and we have vacancies sitting open for months and years,” she said. “And they are waiting for these qualified residents to step forward. So this is not a no. This is a please, do something else for the borough,” she told the candidates. “We are here to pad your resumes so please apply for the vacancies that we have.”