Local municipal families set spending plans for 2019
’Tis the season Bucks and Montgomery County towns fine tune the powerful machine that makes home the place to be — in other words, municipalities are preparing to pass their 2019 operating budget.
’Tis the season for tough work and difficult decisions.
Municipalities everywhere are doing it: Hatboro Borough Council considers a 4.4 percent tax hike next week. And Upper Southampton Township will act Dec. 4 on a budget proposal providing services to 15,000 township residents. Assembling the plan is no small or easy task because it covers a range of items from snow removal, police protection and public works costing millions of dollars. You know what it’s like to budget for a family of two, three or four; how about planning for a very large group living over four square miles?
Let’s see what it might be like. Pretend you are a member of the “Mr. and Mrs. Southampton family” and Township Manager Joe Golden is your father. After dinner one evening, Dad says (just as Golden did at a public hearing Oct. 16): the township 2019 budget could be balanced without a real estate tax increase if the township “is willing to dig deep into the reserves.”
On no, you might be thinking, will there be no family summer vacation next year? But the need for the reserves might be reduced, Golden says, “depending on the actual amount of revenue and expenditures.”
Phew! Keeping income and expenses level is the goal alright but one difficult to achieve when costs seem always to outrace money. And then one of the Southampton’s children makes a case for an allowance increase.
The family daughter, played by Kim Ingram, director, Southampton Free Library, said she needs a 2 percent ($11,000) increase over the current budget due primarily to staff salary hikes. The total budget is $670,015, she said, and program, book fund and magazine drives helped raised funds for the library. Kim also said renovations in the library are nearly complete.
(Kim and the library are great assets, so I hope they get what they want.)
Meanwhile, next up were family sons Joseph Reaney and Glenn McKenney, president and chief, respectively, of the Southampton Fire Company. They asked if the same amount ($287,000) could be donated by the township to the fire company for its new budget.
The fire company in 2019 will get a new engine and will pay for it with funds in its vehicle replacement fund, said Reaney, who added company membership is strong and a junior firefighters program is “healthy.”
(All great news from a great fire company that has seen state aid “decline dramatically” annually — funds that help by safety equipment.)
Chief McKenney then said Southampton Fire Company currently is having its busiest year ever and also is responding to help neighboring firefighters who have been experiencing membership declines.
The budget process is complex, but seeing it as a family gathering makes it a bit simpler to realize.