Lansdale Borough Council proposed to keep taxes in line Tuesday night, voting unanimously to advertise a balanced 2013 budget.
The $31.25 million budget will be advertised for 20 days before its formal adoption by the borough.
The millage rate in Lansdale remains at 3.5 mills. One mill yields $1 in revenue for each $1,000 of assessed value. For example, a homeowner with a house assessed in Lansdale at $123,000 would pay a property tax bill of $430.50 a year.
Proposed expenditures and revenues stand at $31,249,000.
For the Lansdale resident, 12.08 percent of his or her real estate tax bill goes to Lansdale. Montgomery County gets 10.88 percent of the bill and North Penn School District receives 77.04 percent of the bill.
Borough Manager Timi Kirchner presented a 2013 budget review Tuesday night, outlining major points, revenues and expenses in Lansdale for 2013.
In her presentation, Kirchner touted the many accomplishments of Lansdale government due to wise spending and long-term planning. These accomplishments included activation of an operations assessment and an award-winning internal controls review, which spawned a purchasing manual to give full control over every dollar spent in the borough; activation of an IT study; establishment of a Human Resources system in December; a recommendation from the 311 W. Main Task Force on the future of the downtown district; a parking study with recommendations already in place; establishment of nonprofit Discover Lansdale, which Kirchner called "clear evidence of a good investment"; completed electric and sewer rate studies; a completed facilities study; completion of the branding initiative in December; and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission-funded and parking study-influenced wayfinding.
"We have a truly balanced budget," Kirchner said. "We do not have to draw down on funds set aside for future budgets."
The budget includes proposals for one new staff member for the wastewater treatment plant, and one new staff member for information technology, as recommended in the IT study.
The IT staff member, Kirchner said, would be committed to the full establishment and installation of Lansdale's new Geographic Information System, which will enhance the abilities to serve and promote daily operations of Lansdale.
The debt service of $1.6 million is "proportionately small," Kirchner said, equating to 5 percent of the total of the 2013 budget.
"It is a benefit to present and future taxpayers," Kirchner said. "It spreads the benefit across generations."
Kirchner said capital investments for 2013 are part of a long-term plan that eliminates past practices of borrowing from savings.
She said the borough has a long overdue capital improvement list. These capital improvements are not part of the budget, but are reflected in the debt service line in the budget.
The following is a breakdown of amounts dedicated to capital improvements:
- $335,000 for administrative repairs
- $2.14 million for information technology improvements
- $5.993 million for building and ground improvements
- $2.666 million for public safety improvements
- $10.7 million for road improvements
- $2.87 million for electric improvements
- $11.6 million for wastewater treatment plant upgrades
- $2.9 million for parks and recreation maintenance and improvements
- $4.305 million for economic development upgrades in Lansdale
"If we don't invest in ourselves, why should anyone else?" Kirchner said. "The capital list road map ensures council does not shirk from its responsibility to present and future needs. This is not a wish list. It is key to our ability to provide reliable services to the future of our town."
Long-term capital investments total $42.5 million from 2010 to 2017.
Total capital reserve funds, which include 2010 bonds and reserves for capital improvements, are $24.44 million. Total investments paid or to be paid are $11.535 million. This leaves $12.905 million in the capital reserve fund after improvements.
Council is proposing a transfer to the General Fund reserve balance of $2 million, leaving the balance of the capital reserve funds at $10.905 million.
Unfunded capital improvements now total $20.065 million.
Hence, council's approval Wednesday of an additional $10 million in bonds at an interest rate of .75 percent.
"We could spend the reserves down now and let someone else worry about the future, but that would go against our sound business approach established in the borough now and for the future," Kirchner said.
Kirchner said the budget process was about thoroughly vetting proposals to all council committees.
"We are fully prepared to serve the citizens of Lansdale and continue to keep Lansdale on the move. It's worth the investment," she said.