SANATOGA PA – Lower Pottsgrove officials have already begun assembling the township’s 2015 general fund budget, but the process this year involves significant change, according to Manager Ed Wagner. Formerly open-to-the-public budget work sessions have been eliminated and, for that matter, so too has the Board of Commissioners’ participation in them.
No, the elected commissioners won’t be reduced to spectators. Because millions of tax dollars are in play, budget creation remains a highly politicized effort. Board members will be actively engaged in what happens with that money, Wagner offered assurances during their meeting last week (Aug. 4).
It’s the information-gathering and number-crunching that becomes more internalized, he said.
And, Wagner added, members of the public now get four separate opportunities – rather than just two, as in years past – to express their opinions on the Lower Pottsgrove revenue and spending plans.
Wagner distributed a township budget calendar, already accepted by commissioners, that spans the weeks between early August and mid-December and identifies completion dates for budget-specific tasks. Most will be overseen by Wagner and township Finance Director Michele Christman, who constitute this year’s “finance committee.”
In previous years that role was filled by two commissioners, most recently James Kaiser and Stephen Klotz. Committee meetings took extra time, however; visitors who attended them complained too few documents were available to make sense of the numbers; and due to employee privacy needs some items like individual compensation and benefits couldn’t be openly discussed.
In Wagner’s timetable, he and Christman conduct the preliminary meetings, prepare spreadsheets and statements, and submit three draft budgets to board members that include their gradual revisions.
Formal budget presentations, open to public comment, are scheduled for Oct. 6, Nov. 2, Dec. 1 (when tentative adoption could be considered) and Dec. 18 (when final approval is likely).
Here’s the complete budget calendar:
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove 2015 budget):
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Aug. 4 meeting):