Salisbury residents may escape paying more taxes next year, but the budget proposed by Township Manager Randy Soriano Thursday night leaves a vacancy in the police department unfilled.
“My proposed budget does not increase taxes,” said Soriano.
Soriano’s proposed 2013 operating budget of $11,859,708 is a 4.3 percent increase in expenses over the 2012 budget, but overall would increase neither services nor fees. “Revenue is very stagnant,” said Soriano. An increase in personnel requires additional revenue, he added.
Township Police Chief Allen Stiles had requested two additional officers, one to fill a vacancy. “We have fewer officers on the road now,” said Stiles. If the vacancy remains unfilled, Stiles says he expects to continue filling in gaps in police coverage himself.
In the proposed budget, the township’s public works department will fill one of six vacancies, most due to retirement.
The township’s top expenditures by program are public safety (33 percent), insurance and benefits (27 percent), and public works (19 percent).
Projected township revenue, mainly from taxes, is expected to realize $5,816,300, down 3.4 percent from 2012 projections.
Soriano described how the township had, for the past several years, relied on a healthy general fund balance accumulated to meet operational shortfalls. In 2008, there was a balance of $6 million, which is now down to about $3 million. “In 2008 we had the market crash that started our recession, so the revenue stream including real estate transfers really took a dive. Meanwhile, township expenses have gone up yearly.”
In a workshop session following Thursday’s board meeting, commissioners debated line item expenses, and weighed options in regard to services and employee benefits.
The budget will be available for public review shortly, and discussion will continue until a final budget is adopted on Dec. 27.