SANATOGA PA – It seems this year’s final-and-approved Lower Pottsgrove budget isn’t final at all.
The township Board of Commissioners, reorganized Monday (Jan. 6, 2014) with a new member and new leadership team, also reflected a new set of priorities. It voted to conduct a Feb. 3 (Monday) hearing that would re-open the budget, and proposed changes to increase police department funding and manpower, eliminate the job of township assistant manager, add duties and increase salaries for some staff members, and shift contributions to two local community organizations.
“I’m going to support our police and fire departments over anything else in this budget,” newly installed board Vice President Stephen Klotz told the audience that packed the conference room in the municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd.
His words appeared to echo the sentiments of board President Bruce Foltz, returned to that position after several years; and Commissioner Shawn Watson, who took his oath of office earlier in the evening. Both voted with Klotz for the budget re-do; former President Jonathan Spadt voted to support the hearing, too, but voiced his opposition to some of the proposals; and Commissioner James Kaiser was absent.
Under the suggested revisions, the Foltz-Klotz-Watson board majority intends to add an 18th police officer with salary and benefits to Lower Pottsgrove’s force beginning June 1; and add or promote two police sergeants, also at mid-year. Those moves would bolster the department’s roster and put Chief Michael Foltz a step closer to covering the township with four platoons of officers on rotating shifts.
They also would add more than $100,000 in cost to the department budget, which accounts for more than 44 percent, or $2.48 million, of the township’s $5.62 million in 2014 operating expenses.
To offset the increase, Foltz said the majority also proposes to:
- Eliminate the job held by Assistant Manager Alyson Elliott, who did not attend Monday’s meeting. Her former duties would be divided among Manager Ed Wagner, board Secretary Michele Cappelletti and receptionist Jennifer Griffith. All three would receive salary increases as a result. Spadt publicly claimed Elliott’s departure amounted to a “firing” long-planned by Foltz and Klotz; Klotz refuted the charge.
- Reduce the budgeted contribution to the Pottstown Regional Public Library from $65,000 to $55,000. Library representatives at the meeting had hoped to thank the board for increasing its 2014 contribution by $5,000; instead, they learned it would be cut by the same amount.
- Eliminate the $50,000 oil-and-chip road resurfacing program begun last year. Former Manager Rodney Hawthorne months earlier had praised the program for helping repair more miles of township-owned highways at substantially lower cost. Foltz claimed Monday it was being cut due to what he alleged were “bidding problems”.
- Continue the township’s agreement for an outside contractor to provide building inspection and codes enforcement services. Its use eliminates the need to hire a replacement for former township Codes Enforcement Officer Keith Place, who resigned in November to take a similar position with the borough of Pottstown.
The revisions, according to Foltz, also would include:
- A $400 increase in contribution to the Pottstown Senior Center, from $1,750 to $2,150; and
- Hiring a new cleaning service.
Although a starting time was not reported, it is likely the Feb. 3 hearing will begin with the board meeting at 7 p.m. in the municipal building. It will be open to the public.
Related to the Lower Pottsgrove 2014 budget:
- New Township Board Majority Proposes Police Boost
- Police Contract Adds A Bit More Cost To 2014 Budget
- Resident Urges Township To Hike Senior Center Funding
- Township ‘Nuisance Taxes’ Won’t Change During 2014
- Property Taxes Unchanged; Fire Tax, Sewer Rates Rising
- Township Looks For Options In Yard Waste Disposal
- Township Budget First Meeting Scheduled Thursday
- Township Schedules Fall Meetings For Its 2014 Budgets
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Jan. 6 meeting):