SANATOGA PA – Within a matter of only minutes and with no comment, Lower Pottsgrove’s Board of Commissioners approved and made final Thursday (Dec. 17, 2015) an earlier tentative 2016 annual budget totaling $6.28 million. It calls for a tax increase next year of about $62 on an “average” township home owner whose property is assessed for $125,000.
Although the budget anticipates a “no-growth economy” in the coming 12 months, it nonetheless shows significant future expenses, attributed primarily to its police department, Manager Ed Wagner said.
The police department budget of $3,070,132 – accounting for almost half of all township expenses – reflects an 11.2-percent increase of $310,854 over 2015. It includes the addition of another officer during July, the replacement of three patrol vehicles, upgrades of the department’s radio communications system to more efficiently work with that of Montgomery County dispatchers, and the installation of video cameras in three vehicles.
It also acknowledges the anticipated Dec. 31 end of the labor contract for the force’s rank-and-file officers. The police budget contains a 4-percent salary increase mandated by contract for the coming year, and another $25,000 for contractually agreed officer education and training. Also included is $30,000 for legal counsel expenses as the township begins new contract negotiations.
The tax hike itself represents a half-mil increase, to a total of 2.708 mils. Because 1 mil brings in about $600,000 in tax revenue, according to township budget documents, the half-mil will raise about $300,000. Additionally, the board took $351,009 from its savings reserve, known as the fund balance, to balance the budget and avoid a larger increase. The term mil is derived from a Latin word, millsimum, meaning “thousandth part.”
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Dec. 17 meeting):