Upper Pottsgrove Drafts Budget, Watches Income

UPPER POTTSGROVE PA – When Upper Pottsgrove commissioners passed the 2020 township budget last Dec. 16 (2019) they knew the spending plan, with a more than $360,000 deficit, would be balanced by using unallocated savings anticipated in the new year. But if the township runs a shortfall in the 2021 budget, Manager Michelle Reddick hinted Tuesday (May 18, 2020), it might not be lucky twice.

The coronavirus outbreak is negatively “impacting township revenue streams,” Reddick told the Board of Commissioners during its 7 p.m. virtual meeting.

Income so far from Upper Pottsgrove tax collections, permit fees, and investments all are lower than expected, she said. Earned income tax revenues in particular were down slightly in April, but Reddick expects a May decline to be greater because, she noted, fewer residents are working. That’s due to stay-at-home orders intended to slow the virus’ spread.

The township isn’t alone in its woes. Federal and state revenues are far lower too, Reddick observed. With the July 1 Commonwealth budget deadline not far off Pennsylvania’s declining income could possibly create even more trouble for Upper Pottsgrove finances, she said, indicating there’s only so much money for state legislators to pass around.

Reddick has “already begun drafting the 2021 budget,” she reported to commissioners, and can foresee difficulties ahead. She’s “working to reduce its deficit,” the manager explained, while also collaborating with a township financial consultant on a four-year budget plan. Board President Trace Slinkerd encouraged Reddick to keep monitoring monthly earned income tax levels.

Seemingly reflecting the manager’s concerns, the board later Tuesday night gave Reddick the authority to both hire or, if need be, discharge summer helpers requested by township Road Foreman Justin Bean. Bean hoped for two pairs of extra hands; at Reddick’s suggestion, he’ll get only one for the period between June 15 and Sept. 15.

Advertising for the temporary position may be placed soon, but even then commissioners believe hiring should be delayed until Reddick decides the timing is right. Per Slinkerd’s wording, they gave her “complete discretion based on what the township can afford … Let’s make sure we use our assets as best as possible,” he suggested, and board members generally agreed.

Commissioners also asked Reddick to consult with the township Open Space and Recreation Board for advice on which fields and lawns it believes could remain unmowed to help reduce the public works workload.

The board has tentatively scheduled budget discussions for Sept. 28, Oct, 26, Nov. 23, and Dec. 28, its meeting calendar shows.

Photo by Marco Verch via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license