Lansdale Borough Council is working toward passing a $35 million budget with no real estate tax increase and no increases in fees of any kind in the borough.
Councilman and Administration and Finance Committee Chairman Dan Dunigan updated the public on the current and prospective budget situation.
As of the end of October, the current budget is trending well.
“We are meeting our projections for finalizing this fiscal year,” Dunigan said.
For the 2012 budget, each committee and department is working on its respective budgets.
Those budgets then get floated to the administration and finance committee, which compiles everything into a proposed budget to be approved by council before Dec. 31.
Dunigan said council expects a greater fund balance than expected just a few weeks ago.
“Part of that is relative to no tax increase, no sewer or electric charge increase, no rate increases, and continuing on providing the excellent services that we’ve been able to provide to our constituents,” Dunigan said.
The 2012 is chock full of additional items that have been planned by council for next year.
Dunigan said some of them are a result of environmental compliance issues that the borough cannot avoid for next year.
Here are some items being proposed in next year’s budget
- One full-time police officer
- $150,000 for funding the nonprofit Discover Lansdale organization in order to operate a community development department under code enforcement in the borough.
- About $30,000 to beef up operations in financial administration
- Legal fees in the range of $75,000 for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, “which will be things beyond the scope of traditional municipal government legal work would entail,” said Dunigan.
- A full-time information technology position
- Engineering costs of about $45,000 for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems
- A full-time maintenance person for building and grounds who can “monitor and take care of issues as they arrive relative not just to (borough hall), but all facilities in the borough,” Dunigan said.
- One additional staff member under code enforcement and land planning
- Two additional staff members in the public works department
- About $50,000 for the 311 W. Main St. Task Force to fund the services of a consultant
- Increases in community events
- Increases in debt service
Dunigan said the 2012 budget looks at places where deterioration of staff had occurred over the years.
“The borough provides services that residents expect; we do $10 of service for $8.50. We took care of that last year, and we had a plan and the plan would carry us last year, through this year and carry us very well into the next budget year and thereafter into 2013,” Dunigan said. “It doesn’t mean there are a few adjustments; the idea being there is a plan.”
Dunigan said the borough had operated day to day for too many years.
“We are looking at things going forward. You’ve seen things referenced about a capital budget plan. That’s a long list with a lot of dollars and cents on it,” he said. “However, they aren’t all going to get spent tomorrow. It is prioritized.”
Dunigan said a guy that doesn’t know he’s lost doesn’t need a map.
“We need a map to be able to find our way through and make priorities happen,” he said.
The 2012 budget continues to build on what the borough started last year: end deficit spending and head in the right direction.
“We need to rebuild and revitalize borough resources that are necessary, so that you can plan for capital improvements,” he said. “Streets and sewers aren’t going to fix themselves. You’ve got to budget for those. You’ve got to borrow appropriately, long term and low interest.”
He said the borough would never be “debt free.”
“It just doesn’t happen,” he said. “You borrow long term for long term assets. It’s a smart financial plan and we’re an ongoing entity. You leverage what you can do now to make sure you can continue to provide those services.”
By the end of 2012, the borough’s fund balance should be relative to where it was and not just zero.
“We should be able to be putting a little bit more back and continuing to build those reserves. One of the things that came about is Moody’s downgraded us as a result of our overreliance on the electric transfer and the fact that general reserves hit a window to where they were prior to the current year,” he said.
Council has made great strides, he said, in continuing the long-term focus of rebuilding borough finances.
Services, he said, have improved in the past year.
“You can only carry so much water with three people in a certain department and they need a four. Look at places like code enforcement: it was run with shoestrings and bubblegum,” he said. “You can’t operate that way. We have a town plan to revitalize and that’s going to require people with smarts.”
Council, he said, is ready to address questions and concerns of a developing community, of new business opportunities, of existing businesses and of residents.
“Everybody’s running the line, and it did that for too many years. We came away with an image problem,” Dunigan said. “People said, ‘I’m not going to Lansdale. Who would go there? Every time I go, I can’t get a guy to call me back and the fast answer is an easy one: no, we don’t do that as oppose to no it’s not currently available, but let me see how I can be helpful.’ None of this you can separate out and pull a string and have it not relate to something else.”
Dunigan said the rising tide lifts all ships: the borough started a plan and it is filling in the spots that need work.
“You can’t have the finance department wearing the director of finance hat, head of HR and the IT guru at the same time. We are a $35 million business that gets run here in the borough,” Dunigan said. “At that size, you need to have people. These are critical people.”