Borough council votes to advertise proposed 2013 budget
By AMBER SOUTH
Shippensburg Borough Council approved the advertisement of an approximately $16 million budget for 2013 Tuesday.
After being advertised for 10 days beginning Friday, council will vote on the budget at its Dec. 18 meeting. Council must approve the budget by Dec. 31.
Nearly half of the approximately $2.8 million general fund budget, which is one of several smaller budgets in the overall borough budget, is dedicated to Shippensburg Police Department. Prior to an approved amendment, the police budget was up 3.97 percent, from $1,235,042 in 2012 to $1,284,044 in the 2013 budget.
That jump was mostly thanks to a $30,000 increase over 2012 for part-time patrolmen. After heavy discussion, council voted to decrease the $60,000 originally allotted in the 2013 proposed budget to $45,000.
Police Chief Fred Scott spoke at a recent meeting on his need for more part-time officers and other necessities, leading to a request for an additional $40,000 in the 2013 budget.
Council President Andrea Lage expressed concern over giving such an increase to a single department especially during a time of economic stress. She later added that no other department received an increase, even though they may need it just as much.
“Are we really doing due diligence to look at an increase at this time?” she said.
Comments were made over whether the money was really needed or if it would be used essentially as a rainy day fund.
“I’m not agreeing that there’s not other budgets that would love to have that type of money; however, the chief did come in and he did spell out why it’s important we accommodate him,” said Councilwoman Kerri Burrows. “I don’t think that I feel safe in our due diligence to keep our city safe by not giving the chief what he’s requesting.”
Money allotted in the police budget is directly related to how much money may need to be taken from the fund balance. When creating the budget, Borough Manager Earl Parshall planned for up to $220,000 to come out; however, he said he expects several tens of thousands to actually be used.
Decreasing the police budget could mean less money will need to come out of the fund balance, which is essentially a savings account for the borough.
The savings amassed have allowed the borough to raise taxes just once in at least 11 years, the last time in 2009, Parshall said after the topic was brought up by Councilman Joe Hockersmith.
In discussing what amount to place on the part-time patrolmen item in the police budget in the general fund, council members expressed concern over depleting the fund balance by too much too quickly.
“If we reach below $1 million, were going to have to look at raising taxes,” Councilman Steve Brenize said. “The more we take money out of that contingency fund…brings that time to when we have to raise taxes closer.”
Council voted 3-2 to make the amendment to the police budget in the general fund, and voted 5-0 to advertise the 2013 budget with that amendment.
Council is down to five people following the resignation of West End member Jon Baker, effective Nov. 21.
Baker moved to Antrim Township, Parshall said, meaning he could no longer serve on the Shippensburg council.
Parshall will begin setting up candidate interviews soon, and council will then vote on a replacement.