At the end of a very long meeting Monday night, the Marlborough supervisors put together a preliminary budget for 2012 that’s balanced despite $25,805 less in projected taxes than in 2011 and $274,086 less in total revenues.
The supervisors also used “zero based budgeting” as their method for arriving at a balanced budget. Zero-based budgeting assumes that budget items are not automatically raised a percentage from the year before. The only categories of expenditures not subject to that method would be items in the police budget which follow the terms of the negotiated police contract.
Supervisor Joan Smith proposed that the township revise its procedures for the minutes of township meetings. “Minutes should record official actions of the board (and not include comments from the audience or the board),” said Smith.
The other supervisors, Carl Ascoli and Brian Doremus, agreed with her, but all of the supervisors also agreed to have meetings tape recorded and to allow anyone to have access to the tapes after the meetings.
Smith said that any additions or corrections to the minutes can be added and adopted at the next meeting.
Ascoli called for lowering the amount budgeted for the township’s solicitor to $20,000, a $16,000 cut from the 2011 budget and a $4,000 reduction from the workshop spreadsheet that also predicts that the actual expenditure by the end of the year will be approximately $13,780.
“We’ll have to be careful with e-mails and things like that,” observed Chairman Doremus.
The preliminary budget did not include any funding for a part-time police officer, but Ascoli said that in the future the township should consider hiring two part-timers instead of one full-timer.
“Many part-time police officers in our area are also full-time officers in other police departments,” said Ascoli.
Ascoli said that part-time officers would not have to receive health and pension benefits and thereby cost the township considerably less than a full-time officer.
“We should clarify these costs before our next meeting,” said Ascoli.
The supervisors also discussed what donations the township should make to various non-profit civic organizations, along with which memberships the township should pay for.
“What do we get out of belonging to the chamber of commerce?” asked Smith.
“All of the other municipalities belong to the chamber of commerce,” said Township Manager Paul Williams. Williams defended the township’s membership by saying that it engenders contact and communication with both businesses and municipalities, an important benefit in his view.
“If I asked you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?” asked Smith, with a smile.
After a short discussion, the supervisors agreed to budget $600 for the chamber of commerce membership and to budget a total of $3,600 for dues, subscriptions and memberships.
Anyone interested in looking at the preliminary budget spreadsheet may do so by asking to see it at the township building during the business hours posted on the door and on the township’s website.