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Six Letters, Starts With "B." Ends With "Tax."

It’s the week of “B” words. As in “brace” yourself, “budget” talk ahead.

The annual process of determining how much money (in taxes and other revenues) is available next year to public officials for operating the governing bodies to which they were elected – and how that money gets spent – is under way. It’s part of a political cycle-of-life many taxpayers consider arduous and boring … until they get their tax bills.

Pottsgrove (PA) School District Board of Education members alluded to the start of “budget season” Tuesday (Sept. 23, 2008) following a discussion during their work session of conceptual renovations at Ringing Rocks Elementary School. The “B” word arose again last night (Sept. 25, 2008) during the second monthly meeting of the Lower Pottsgrove Township Board of Commissioners.

“It’s a long process,” board Vice President Jonathan Spadt admitted, saying the township’s budget exercises began with a recent staff meeting. “We’ve got tough decisions to make,” Spadt added, because “we all know where the economy is right now.”

Then, as they must do to keep things running, commissioners gave their official OK to several expenses.

They paid $500 as a contribution to support the World War II Veterans’ Memorial recently erected in the borough of Pottstown’s Memorial Park. Board member Anthony Doyle said he considered the donation appropriate to honor township residents who served during the war, “although it’s 60 years too late;” his colleagues unanimously agreed. They also paid $40 to buy advertising to support a November fund-raising event for Pottsgrove American Legion programs that benefit veterans.

Commissioners said they would spend, during 2009, a combined total of about $216,000 to fund retirement pension plans for both police (uniformed) and other (non-uniformed) township employees. Joe Duda of Flourtown PA-based Duda Actuarial Consultants assured the board the township’s actual outlay would amount to only $54,000; 75 percent of the pension cost for Lower Pottsgrove’s 28 covered workers, he said, was reimbursed by the state.

Although it was not mentioned last night, labor contract talks with township police have been on commissioners’ minds. How and when they are settled, possibly by December, certainly could affect next year’s budget.

Earlier this month, at its Sept. 3 meeting, board member Stephen Klotz said the “negotiations keep moving along. There’s some give and take, but we feel we’re going to get there without having to go to arbitration.” Negotiators for the township and represented officers met several times in recent months, “and are nearing a completion point,” Spadt concurred at the time.

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