In the first of three South Whitehall Township 2013 budget workshops, Township Manager Jon Hammer told commissioners that pension expenses, health-care costs and operating costs are going up while the capital fund is dwindling.
But, he said, real estate taxes will remain the same -- as they have for 20 years.
"All the news isn't gloom and doom - we will be free of long-term debt after this year and I firmly believe that in South Whitehall Township the best days are ahead of us," Hammer said.
Thanks to cost-saving efforts like renegotiations with contractors, early retirement packages for employees and a $1.1 million cash carryover from 2012, the township will avoid the need for a real estate tax increase.
Hammer said it's been two decades since a tax increase was necessary, but warned that holding the line on taxes may not be possible next year.
This year's operating budget is $13.1 million and revenue is projected to be $12.3 million. The $1.1 million cash carryover helps cover the difference and provides a transfer of a little more $300,000 to the capital reserve fund.
Commissioner David Bond asked how county reassesment will affect the budget and Hammer said he won't be sure until final numbers are released in December. He said, however, that he didn't anticipate any surprises that would require a tax increase.
In the proposed budget, salaries for non-union staff will increase 2.5 percent and police salaries will increase 2.25 percent. The township is still negotiating its Public Works contract.
The next two workshops are scheduled Nov. 7 and Nov. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m.