2019 bud­get ready for fi­nal vote, 2018 show­ing sur­plus

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Dan Sokil [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @Dan­sokil on Twit­ter

LANS­DALE >> Bor­ough coun­cil will be ready to ap­prove Lans­dale’s 2019 bud­get in less than two weeks, and the 2018 bud­get is shap­ing up to pro­duce good news at the end of the year.

Coun­cil’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and fi­nance com­mit­tee for­mally voted Dec. 5 to rec­om­mend coun­cil ap­prove the bud­get, with no in­creases to taxes or util­ity rates, on Dec. 19.

“Have we had any in­put from the pub­lic?” asked Coun­cil­man Leon An­geli­chio.

“We have not had any­body even come in and look at it,” bor­ough Man­ager John Ernst replied.

Ernst be­gan talks on the 2019 bud­get in Septem­ber, demon­strat­ing a se­ries of in­ter­ac­tive fi­nan­cial dash­boards that let res­i­dents break down the dif­fer­ent funds and trends in the roughly $45.8 mil­lion bud­get.

High­lights in­clude $1.4 mil­lion in lo­cal road projects, par­tially off­set by state liq­uid fuel fund

sub­si­dies, along with in­stal­la­tion of new so­lar power sys­tems at the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing and elec­tric depart­ment com­plex, the start of con­struc­tion on a $2.7 mil­lion streetscape project along East Main Street and the bor­ough’s planned skate park, both to be par­tially cov­ered by grants.

A sec­ond draft of the bud­get was dis­cussed by coun­cil and its com­mit­tees in Oc­to­ber and a third in Novem­ber, and Ernst and Fi­nance Direc­tor John Ramey said they’ve had min­i­mal pub­lic feed­back or ques­tions since then.

“It’s sit­ting up­stairs at the desk, and not one per­son” has asked to see it, Ramey said.

The most re­cent draft of the pro­posed 2019 bud­get is avail­able on the bor­ough’s web­site Lans­dale.org and at the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing until coun­cil’s Dec. 19 meeting, when coun­cil could vote to ap­prove it and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing tax res­o­lu­tion.

Ramey also gave an up­date on the bor­ough’s 2018 bud­get, and said tem­po­rary fund short­falls he re­ported in Novem­ber due to cer­tain bill pay­ments and ex­penses pro­cessed through the end of Septem­ber ap­pear to have cor­rected them­selves af­ter an­other month.

“Rev­enues in the gen­eral fund are up about $669,000 through the end of Oc­to­ber, and ex­penses are up only $625,000. That’s about a nine per­cent in­crease in rev­enues, and only a seven per­cent in­crease in ex­penses,” he said.

If those trends hold, Ramey told coun­cil’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and fi­nance com­mit­tee, the bor­ough would end the year with a roughly $150,000 sur­plus over prior es­ti­mates, and Ramey said the in­crease was largely thanks to higher than ex­pected trans­fer tax rev­enues.

“That’s the big one: we’re look­ing to be $100,000 over bud­get, if it fol­lows the trend of last year” for the fi­nal two months, Ramey said.

An­geli­chio said the trans­fer tax rev­enue in­crease would help the bot­tom line for 2018, but would be dif­fi­cult to pre­dict it hap­pen­ing again, and was a rel­a­tively small amount com­pared to the en­tire bud­get.

“It’s some­thing of an ano­maly, kind of a one-year event,” he said, call­ing it “a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber, but in the grand scheme of things, a very small in­crease.”

Res­i­dent Jean Fritz asked if the higher than an­tic­i­pated rev­enues meant the bor­ough would run a sur­plus for the year in­stead of a deficit, and Ramey said it would.

“Un­less some­thing hap­pens, like the roof blows off” of the bor­ough mu­nic­i­pal build­ing, Fritz said.

“We’ve got a big­ger prob­lem if the roof blows off of this build­ing,” Ernst an­swered.

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