Preliminary Budget For Warminster Raises Spending, But Not Taxes Money Would Be Taken From Cash Reserves. Cuts Will Be Decided Upon At The Next Three Public Meetings.

Posted: November 28, 1993

WARMINSTER — After weeks of delays and a seven-hour meeting that lasted until 2:50 a.m., the Board of Supervisors passed a preliminary 1994 budget Tuesday morning that at first glance seems destined for more late-night bickering.

Under the proposed $14.6 million budget, spending would rise, but taxes would not go up. The township would be forced to pull money from its cash reserve to make up the difference.

The board rejected Township Manager Eugene McGough's proposed preliminary budget, which would have increased general fund spending by 9 percent without raising taxes. More than $2 million from the township's cash reserve would have been needed to cover the resulting deficit.

Hours later, the supervisors voted, 3-2, to limit growth in the general fund to 3 percent without adopting specific cuts to meet that goal. Supervisors Chairman Frank Burstein pledged that the board would decide on the cuts at its next three public meetings. The board is scheduled to decide on a final version of the budget Dec. 20.

Burstein, who backed the 3 percent limit, said he was concerned about continued deficit spending.

"We have to get spending under control. You can't keep using surpluses

from your cash reserve to cover your extra spending because in the end you're going to run out of the surplus," Burstein said Tuesday. "I don't want to see our backs against the wall in 1995 and 1996 when the (Naval Air Warfare Center) closes and we lose that tax revenue."

Supervisors Raymond J. Regan and Carl J. Messina voted against the 3 percent limit. Messina, the lone Republican on the board, disagreed with several spending proposals in the budget, and Regan said he wanted more time to look over the budget.

One of the most contentious issues in the budget will be raises proposed for township administrators. McGough requested raises of 7.8 percent to 15 percent for himself and three other administrators.

Supervisor Carl Messina called the raises excessive.

"I think there should be little or no raises, considering the state of the economy," Messina said.

The board eventually rejected McGough's raise proposal, but according to Burstein, the supervisors will be meeting with McGough in private to discuss the issue.

A McGough proposal to create several new positions in the township also ran into early opposition. McGough proposed the hiring of a projects manager for $35,000 to coordinate grant applications, a management information systems manager for $30,000 to program and maintain the township's computer systems, and an assistant to the township purchasing agent and fleet manager for $22,000.

The township's tax rate of 21.75 mills would not change under the proposed budget. The owner of a home assessed at the township average of $8,000 would pay $174 in property taxes.

Exactly how much the township has in its surplus has become the center of partisan bickering. Republicans contend that there is at least a $5 million surplus and that taxes should be cut. The Democrat-controlled board says that most of the surplus has been spent on road and infrastructure improvements.

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