What is the Township budget? At the very basic level, a township budget is similar to your personal household budget in that it links tasks to be performed with the resources required to accomplish those tasks (Rubin, 2017).
How is a township budget different than personal and business budgets? Even though a township budget is similar to private budgets in the sense that it links tasks to resources, there are several important differences. First, all governmental budgets involve input from a variety of participants, each with unique – and sometimes conflicting – interests and priorities. Second, individuals and businesses spend their own money; governments spend citizens’ money. Therefore, transparency and accountability are an important part of the process. Third, a township is required to prepare its annual budget well in advance of the fiscal year and the final budget is intended to remain in place, in its adopted format, throughout the entire year. For this reason, budgets need to have the flexibility to adapt and respond to unanticipated events that occur during a year. Finally, public budgets are far more constrained by regulations than their private counterparts (Rubin, 2017). To get a better understanding of these constraints, you can review Article XXXII of the Second Class Township Code and the Taxation Manual.
Is a budget required? Yes, East Bradford is by definition a Township of the Second Class and is therefore required to adhere to the Second Class Township Code. Section 3202 of this Code requires that townships annually prepare and adopt a budget. It also requires that the budget be balanced. In fact, it is unlawful for a Township to prepare and advertise a proposed budget when it is knowingly inaccurate. For this reason, it is important that we are realistic in our projections and assumptions.
What does the budget consist of? The Township budget is actually a combination of budgets, known as funds. There are seven distinct funds—General, Capital Reserve, Capital Investment, Sewer, Open Space, Liquid Fuels, and Highway Improvement. Each of these funds consists of revenue streams and planned expenditures and each is governed by different constraints. You can review the 2019 Summary of All Funds to get a sense of each budget. The General Fund Budget, which is the principal operating fund for the Township, is the focus of the next section.
Rubin, I. S. (2017). The politics of public budgeting: getting and spending, borrowing and balancing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage