When the Board of Commissioners got a first look at the proposed $18.6 million budget at its Oct. 9 workshop meeting, they were warned by Township Manager Jon Hammer about continuing to use the capital reserve fund to balance the budget.
The proposed budget projects a $566,455 deficit on revenues of $12.89 million and $13.45 in expenses. The deficit would be offset by carrying over $1.4 million from 2013 and transferring $899,000 to the capital reserve fund.
Hammer suggested the township start to borrow money instead of paying cash for capital expenses and to consider levying a fire tax as other municipalities do to fund the cost of their fire companies' operations and equipment.
Hammer said a fire tax of .1777 mills would raise about $400,000 a year for the township's fire fund.
"We have to shore up $566,000 to make our operating budget even for 2014," said Commissioner Glenn Block. "That $400,00 [raised by the fire tax] could go for that."
Block said the tax would be justifiable because South Whitehall pays for the fire companies' operations and equipment out of its operating budget.
Commissioner David Bond said the police and public works departments should make more cuts from their budgets, since those departments' salaries and benefits make up about 78 percent of the township's expenses.
"We have to either change revenue or cut," Bond said.
Hammer reminded the board they've looked for ways to garner additional revenue over the last year by increasing fees.
The board directed Hammer to go back to all department heads to ask them to make more cuts. He will present those figures at the board's next budget workshop meeting on Oct. 23.
Hammer presented the budget, which was prepared by Finance Director Lenore Horos, Human Resources Manager Renee Bickel and Director of Administration Tony Ganguzza.
The next workshops will be held at the administration building:
- Oct. 23; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. State highway aid fund and departmental overviews will be presented.
- Nov. 13; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Refuse and recycling fund and contribution requests will be presented.