The 2013 Palmer Township preliminary budget presented during Tuesday night’s board of supervisors meeting had at least one thing in common with the previous four budgets: no tax increases.
“There is not a lot of extra stuff in the budget these days,” noted President David Colver said of the austere budget.
Supervisors spent the next two hours intently eyeballing the 35-page document and peppering Township Manager Christopher Christman and department heads with a myraid of questions before finally giving the preliminary budget approval.
“Without a lot of money there is still a fair amount of services,” said Commissioner Robert Smith.
However at least one change is expected before the final document is approved as commissioners requested a 10 percent increase in sewer rates for township residents as a way to offset rising chemical costs at the treament facility. The increase will translate to about a $25 annually, according to Colver. The silver lining for township residents is that their trash bills will be decreasing by about $29 next year, more or less canceling the other out.
During the discussion several interesting facts emerged about the 2013 budget.
To begin with Colver found it “surprising” that only 23 percent of the township’s revenues in the 2013 document are generated from real estate taxes.
“I thought that would be higher,” he noted.
Another interesting fact is that benefits make up 40 percent of the township’s expenditures and health insurance costs rose by 11.7 percent over the year previous. In additon police pensions increased from $409,000 in 2012 to $463,000 in the 2013 preliminary budget.
Also in that police budget, funds were allocated for another four-legged furry crime fighter, bringing the canine force back to three dogs during next year.
Meanwhile the fire department budget came in a taut $439,000, with $87,000 of that allocated for the roughly 400 fire hydrants in the township. Colver noted that equates to about $18 per month, per hydrant.
“It’s a necessary evil” he said of the cost of water. “It is what it is.”
And rounding out the facts presented Tuesday night was that the township has 21,000 residents who reside in 10.7 square miles, according to Commissioner Robert Lammi.