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Washington Twp. Supervisors consider plan to fix budget deficit

August 13, 2010|By DANA BROWN

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The Washington Township Supervisors during a workshop session on Wednesday explored options for dealing with a projected general fund budget shortfall of $300,000 this year, as well as ways to cut costs in 2011.

The projected shortfall is due primarily to reductions in earned income and real estate transfer tax revenues, according to Township Manager Mike Christopher. If the trend continues, he estimates, the general fund will fall short by approximately $300,000.

Christopher presented the board with a plan for dealing with the shortfall which included using reimbursements and transfers from other funds. His plan includes:

o Transferring $140,000 from the state fund for labor costs for township road improvements

o Transferring $60,000 from the capital reserve fund

o Reimbursement of $31,900 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to help with high snow removal expenses

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o Reimbursement of $2,000 from the train fund for labor costs

o Reimbursement of $4,000 for labor costs on trail work done at Happel's Meadow

o Reimbursement of $30,000 from a grant for labor costs for work done to Calimer Drive

In addition to his implementing his plan, Christopher told the board, that by being frugal for the remainder of the year, an estimated $32,100 could be "squeezed out of all other accounts."

"We're going to try to hold the line as best we can," Christopher said.

Supervisor Elaine Gladhill supported Christopher's proposal.

"This is going to get us to where the shortfall is," she said.

Supervisor Jeff Geesaman also expressed support for Christopher's plan.

"I think this is a good plan to get us to the end of the year," Geesaman said.

While the board agreed on how to address the shortfall, the issue also prompted the supervisors to brainstorm ways in which the township could reduce its overall expenses for 2011.

Supervisor Carroll Sturm prepared several options for the board's consideration. Sturm's suggestions included taking a look at reorganizing the township's operational structure, hiring a roadmaster to direct road crews and considering selling the township's recycling center to a private contractor.

"We need to be looking at how we cut spending and improve operations," Sturm said.

Sturm also suggested the board look at the impact a 10 percent reduction in hourly wages for employees would have on the budget.

The supervisors acknowledged the need to look at pay raises and benefits for township employees as well as capital costs.

Supervisor Jeff Geesaman expressed concern for employees if the board imposed a pay decrease.

"What about the impact on the employees' budgets," he said. "I think right now we need to focus on the remainder of the year," he said.

Sturm stressed that cutting costs should not be ignored.

"We can't continue to spend at the same level we're spending," he said.

Supervisor John Gorman said the board should consider all suggestions.

"We'd be putting on blinders if we didn't consider some of these options," he said.

Christopher said the board has a difficult task ahead of it when they begin in earnest to look at the 2011 budget.

"There are some tough decisions to make," he said.

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