An Appropriate Borough Budget

Published: May 28, 2019 at 05:10 pm


To the Editor:

After the defeat of the Borough budget 1.0 on May 14, 2019, voters have now been presented Borough budget 2.0 to be voted on June 6, 2019, at 7:30 pm, at the Edmond Town Hall.

The basic theme of the revisions is to nudge voters to the finish line by reducing requested expenditures by $23k and increasing contributions from the nearly $700k cash balance by $15k.

There are two basic issues with this proposal:

*Basing the expenditure request on the all-time 2018/19 high.

*Ignoring the true facts of the cash reserve balance... past, present, and future.

First, the expenditure proposal: $228,330... it still includes $20k in legal fees, $10k in sidewalks, and a 32 percent increase in employee salaries. Notably, since 2013/14, the borough budget has increased by an annual growth rate of 6.83 percent vs the town rate of 1.25 percent... or over five times!

Second, and not disclosed, is that the cash reserve is currently $683,733. In addition, it is not revealed that the balance will increase significantly during the next year from fees and taxes for a major new development on Mount Pleasant. Most disturbing is taxpayers cannot get a transparent and definitive answer for the intended use of this balance... is it for a legal war chest, an unplanned sidewalk project on Sugar Street, or just a fund to be deployed at the sole discretion of the board?

The bottom line is that the expenditure request for 2019/20 should be $193k through reductions in legal fees, sidewalk expenditures, and salary increases, and that it should be financed out of the cash reserve balance for a mill rate of 0.00. This will both fund reasonable borough expenses as well as leave an estimated cash reserve of nearly $500k that will be supplemented by new fees and taxes during the course of the year.

The excessive growth rate of the Borough budget, especially in relation to the growth rate of the town budget, indicates the lack of long range planning. We need a voter-approved plan that clearly sets forth our operating and capital priorities.

In the interim, an expenditure of $193k funded out of the cash reserve is the appropriate budget to be put forward by the Borough Board of Burgesses.

Robert Geckle

35 Queen Street, Newtown         May 28, 2019


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