Ferguson Township prepares budget, likely to keep taxes steady for 2014

Ferguson Township residents will not see a tax increase in a 2014 budget that township supervisors are expected to pass Monday.

The spending plan will keep real estate taxes at 2.422 mills, but it calls for the borough to dip into its reserve funds to bridge a deficit and balance the budget, the Board of Supervisors heard at a meeting Dec. 2.

Manager Mark Kunkle reported at the meeting that total net expenses are projected at $12.7 million while revenues are expected to be $11.2 million. The budget calls for $411,000 from the general fund and other monies to make up the difference.

Kunkle said that, despite the dip, the general fund retain a “healthy balance going forward.”

The township has a $3 million unassigned fund balance and $4.6 million total in various funds that are assigned for certain spending.

Kunkle said the general fund budget carries a 1.9 percent increase in expenditures from 2013. Overall spending is significantly down, however, because a major road construction project is off the books.

Total expenses are down nearly $4 million, or about 23.5 percent, from 2013, when the West Whitehall widening and reconstruction project pushed the township’s capital expenses to an unusually high level.

Kunkle said revenues, meanwhile, remain relatively flat.

He said the last time the township raised taxes was in 2008, when real estate taxes jumped from 1.562 mills to the current 2.422 mills. He cautioned that the township will have to control expenses and be cognizant of revenues going forward if it wants to avoid increases in 2015 or beyond.

Personnel costs were one of the largest increases in the 2014 budget. Wage increases and benefits combined are $167,678 more than in 2013, Kunkle said.

The proposed budget has about $1 million for capital projects, including work at Selders Circle and Rosemont Drive outside of Pine Grove Mills.