Hatboro officials are working to balance the roughly $4 million 2012 budget, which currently has a more than $350,000 shortfall.
During the council’s second budget work session Wednesday night, the governing body directed borough manager Steven Plaugher to meet with department heads to review line items and determine what cuts could be made.
Republicans Vincent LaSorsa and John Zygmont, both CPAs, said it was up to the finance committee - comprised of Democrats Marianne Reymer and Patty Fleming - to find solutions to the deficit.
"Come back to us with some recommendations of ways to reduce the deficit to zero," LaSorsa said. "That’s the finance department’s function."
"Really? Because there’s seve people on this council," Reymer fired back. "All ideas are appreciated."
The divided council, after agreeing to disagree on which elected officials were responsible to find budget-balancing solutions, conceded to send any and all money-saving suggestions to Plaugher through this week.
From there, Plaugher said he’d revise the draft budget to reflect the changes and present a new draft spending plan to the council during Monday’s meeting.
“The expenditures exceed the revenues,” Plaugher said after the meeting. “We have fixed costs that go up.”
Chief among them are fixed raises for union employees; and skyrocketing health insurance costs, which according to the 22-page budget, is expected to increase, on average, by 12.5 percent from its current rate.
The governing body has roughly seven weeks to adopt a balanced budget by the Dec. 31 deadline.
“Perhaps we are behind just a bit,” Plaugher said. “It’s a work in progress.”
And that work could continue to be revised even after the Dec. 31 deadline, he said. Because will take the helm in January - switching control from 4-3 Democrat to 6-1 Republican - Plaugher said the incoming council could have a say in the final 2012 budget.
"The new council can reopen the budget in January and make any adjustments," Plaugher said.
Ultimately, Plaugher said it would be up to the council to decide if borough services should be cut, or if a tax increase should be put in place. Since 2004, the municipal tax rate has been 7.358 mills, which for the owner of a home assessed at $125,000 amounts to $920 in borough taxes.
Also up to the council is whether the six nonprofit organizations – Visiting Nurse Association, , , , the and – that pleaded their cases for financial assistance warrant new or increased line items in next year’s budget.
The largest request over last year’s budget came from Main Street Hatboro President Bob Johnston, who asked that the borough’s current Main Street Manager, Stephen Barth, be retained full-time for 2012 at a salary of $62,400, up from the $37,500 currently budgeted.
Johnston credited Barth with helping to up the downtown area’s occupancy rate by 20 percent and, in doing so, create 150 jobs. He also commended Barth for assisting two borough businesses – Extreme Midyears LLC and the – in obtaining $50,000 from the county. The county commissioners approved the loans, which come with a maximum 3.25 interest rate, during Thursday’s meeting.
Johnston also brought with him to Wednesday’s meeting, two “success stories” in the form of co-owner Bob Quigley, as well as George and Paul Hazakis, who transformed the on York Road into the .
Quigley, whose following excessive flood damage stemming from Hurricane Irene, said if it had not been for borough employees and Barth in particular, his family would have either closed for good, or relocated outside of Hatboro. Instead, they are planning to open at the former Dunkin’ Donuts soon.
“After we wiped away the tears that Sunday morning, there was a person standing next to me, on my shoulder, telling my daughter and myself ‘I will help you. You don’t need to call me.’ That person was Steve Barth,” Quigley said. “He came up with ideas to help us get to the new place.”
Other nonprofit funding requests include:
- An increase from 2011 in the amount of $10,000 for a total of $60,000 for the Union Library of Hatboro
- Hatboro Little League requested $11,500 to cover fencing and other upgrades totaling $13,298. The borough will receive $2,040 per month for a
- Elm Street Hatboro requested that the borough pay its liability insurance in the amount of $1,700
- Bux-Mont Meals on Wheels requested $3,000, as has been granted in previous years
- The Visiting Nurse Association did not specify an amount requested, but $1,000 was granted in 2010 and 2011.