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Township to use general fund to balance budget

December 26, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- Antrim Township will dip into its $8.6 million general fund overflow to make ends meet in 2010.

In November, the township approved a preliminary budget that was about $44,700 in the red.

The township supervisors cut revenue and expenditures in 2009 when it eliminated property taxes and upper-level staff positions, a move that in 2010 will force the township to turn to years of saving and conservative spending to achieve balance.

Despite recording an estimated $20 million in total assets at the close of 2009, the board spent months debating the 2010 budget, trying its best to balance revenue and expenditures without taking from the general fund balance, Township Administrator Brad Graham said.

Graham said the fund balances are the township's total resources in eight separate funds, totaling more than $20 million, most of which are in certificates of deposit, savings accounts and investments.

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It took years to build the fund balances to the level Antrim Township has today, said Ben Thomas, former township manager.

Thomas, who managed the budget for more than 10 years, said it was through careful spending, low taxes and general fiscal conservancy that the township was able to stash away millions for a rainy day.

Previous boards of supervisors began investing and saving, knowing the economy would ebb and flow to the low point it reached in 2009, Thomas said. The fund balance was a "rainy day" solution should the supervisors find expenditures exceeding revenue, he said.

With $8.6 million of general fund dollars in the bank and the $4.1 million in expenditures just barely exceeding revenue, the township decided to use its rainy day funds to pay employees in 2010, Graham said.

Supervisor James Byers said the board of supervisors was comfortable drafting the "not quite balanced budget" because it plans to invest in key projects and its work force.

At its Dec. 15 meeting, the township agreed to budget additional money for potential new hires and for a 3 percent pay increase should it choose to award employees in the coming year.

For 2010, the township budgeted nearly $800,000 in payroll, $932,000 in proposed road construction and $400,000 for renovating the township municipal building on Antrim Church Road, Graham said.

Supervisor Fred Young said while some line items required that money be borrowed from other funds or from the fund balance, the board was not debating whether or not to spend the money, but how much was necessary.

He also said the board of supervisors chose not to reinstate real estate taxes in 2010.

While less than one mill of taxes at the last known rate would have generated enough revenue to balance the budget without dipping into the fund balance, Young said the board remained committed to lowering the financial burden of its taxpayers.

In 2008, two mills of taxes generated about $267,000 in revenue.

Most of the revenue in the 2010 budget comes from earned income taxes. Graham said the township is blessed with residents who continue to work in this tough economy.

Antrim Township will vote on the final budget Tuesday at 11 a.m.

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