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Lower Saucon takes first looks at 2014 budget

Published On: Oct 24 2013 12:01:42 AM EDT

The 2014 proposed budget for Lower Saucon Township made its debut Wednesday night before council members in a mind-numbing array of pages, funds and line items.

"This budget is very complicated," remarked Vice President Tom Maxfield at one point.

So much so that minutes later council members voted 4-0 have an independent accountant who specializes in municipal government examine the budget and
render recommendations to circumvent that same perplexing result next year. President Glenn Kern was absent.

That being the case, this year's proposed budget does offer a few simple headlines. One is that the budget presented is balanced in the amount of $6,470,278. Two is that the township's current tax rate of 4.39 mills is the same as the 2013 budget, meaning no tax increase on residents. Three is that the overall budget is 5.07 percent less than last year's $6.798 million budget. And four is the township's contingency fund in the proposed budget is just $131,755.

Township Manager Jack Cahalan and Finance Director Cathy Gorman spent just under three hours explaining the specifics, in some cases line-by-line, while being peppered with dozens of questions by council members.

About 72 percent of the township's proposed General Fund budget for next year is allocated to, more or less, fixed expenses, including contracts, benefits, insurance, utilities and compensation packages. The township has the fifth-lowest tax rate out of the 17 municipalities in Northampton County.

Council did take two votes on the budget Wednesday night. One was to adopt a long list of security, repair and maintenance needs as outlined by the administration totaling more than $185,000 that were not included in the proposed budget.

These items ranged in price from $22,450  for license plant recognition software for the township's police department , to adding smoke detectors in the police department's holding area for $780. They also included $5,000 for the replacement of the front door in the town hall administative wing, and paying for dental work for the township's crime fighting K-9 dog, the amount of which is uncertain pending an expected donation by the dog's vet.

The second vote, which would have increased the township's contingency fund by about $500,000 in an effort to make Gorman "more comfortable" in accounting procedures, failed by a 2-2 vote.

The proposed budget is expected to be posted online for public review Thursday. Council is expected to vote on it in December.