Lawrence officials hold first budget meeting for 2013|
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
The first budget meeting for 2013 was held by the Lawrence Township Supervisors last night and while many numbers are not available yet, the supervisors had some good working numbers for certain areas and will have more to work with at tomorrow night's meeting as well.
The biggest topic of discussion was the police budget and acting Police Chief Mark Brooks presented three scenarios to the supervisors to be considered.
The first scenario was a conservative one assuming no changes in revenue and keeping current staffing levels and expenditures, including seven officers. That budget for the coming year would be $815,999.10.
The second scenario anticipates some sort of revenue increase and allows for the hiring of two part time officers not to exceed 32 hours each per week. That would add $53,080.63 to the budget for a total of $869,079.73.
The third option would allow for hiring three part time officers at the same hourly rate, adding $80,345.76 bringing the budget total to $896,344.94.
Brooks said the difficulty would be in finding qualified part time officers. Officers who work part time for a municipality usually also work at another municipality as well and so it would be difficult to secure 32 hours of work per week. However, he added, over the years Lawrence Township has had some very qualified personnel work for the township on a part time basis and he is confident if they do hire some part time officers they will be able to find people locally to fill the positions.
Supervisor Glenn Johnston commented on part time officers working two jobs and said that would be expected because someone wouldn't be able to live on approximately $23,000 per year and would have to have a second job.
Brooks added that they would save about $20,000 per officer with part time personnel because they would not be paying health insurance or pension.
He also said he expects the fuel allowance to remain about the same because the officers have been driving less and been more careful with the amount of fuel they use.
The decision on hiring more officers will be held off for a while until the township know the answer to a couple of questions. The first is whether the residents will approve a 6-mill tax increase at the general election next week. The second is the amount of money from the Marcellus shale impact fee. The township has been promised a certain amount of money, but that money has yet to be received and the supervisors are being cautious since anything could happen between now and when the money is paid out.
Therefore, the supervisors have decided to remain cautious and draft a budget on the assumption that there will be no additional revenue.
More budget meetings will be held after the election and the budget, which must be passed before Dec. 1, can be reopened at the beginning of the year and tweaked.
The supervisors and secretary then went through part of the rest of the budget last night. Some of the revenue numbers Secretary Barbara Shaffner is waiting on from Keystone Collection Group. Most of the other revenue sources remained the same and the supervisors are considering not having a tax anticipation note next year.
Shaffner also asked that the supervisors consider raising her bond since she occasionally handles more money than she is bonded for. The supervisors agreed to have her bond raised.
Other items were discussed in expenditures and again some numbers they are waiting on. Three percent raises for the secretary and code enforcement officer were also discussed. Some numbers were raised slightly due to the cost of fuel and supplies. The supervisors are also planning to repair more dirt roads this coming summer and increased the amount for roads and bridges.
The next budget meeting will be tomorrow at the Lawrence Township Municipal building at 6 p.m.