North Huntingdon weighs putting less cash in reserve
By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
North Huntingdon commissioners next week will consider a plan to dedicate 25 percent of their budget's general fund to a reserve fund.
That's a decrease from its current savings of about 60 percent to 75 percent, which officials said amounts to about $6.5 to $7 million.
Township manager John Shepherd pitched the idea to commissioners Thursday, following up on budget discussions during the fall when board members talked about establishing a fund balance policy.
The fund balance would insure against unanticipated events that would harm the township finances and jeopardize public services, the policy states. Among other provisions, the account would make sure the township could provide cash for daily financial needs and offset economic downturns or revenue shortfalls.
Shepherd recommended a fund balance of between 20 percent and 25 percent. Commissioners Zachary Haigis and Lee Moffatt endorsed a 25 percent amount.
“That's a big step for us,” said Moffatt, who noted that the board is used to setting aside more than that.
Even so, Shepherd said, 25 percent is still a conservative number.
He sought fund balance policies at a handful of area municipalities, finding that Murrysville is the only one with a formal policy, which indicates a 20 percent fund balance, Shepherd said.
The Government Finance Officers Association, a national group of finance officials suggests a minimum fund balance of 17 percent.
The township is not required to establish such a policy, Shepherd said, but he said he thinks it's a good idea. The township has never before had a formal fund balance policy, he said.
Spending down the current 60 percent to 75 percent to 25 percent likely won't happen in a year, Shepherd said.
“It's not going to happen overnight,” he said. “It may be a five-year period, maybe more roads are done.”
Plus, Moffatt said, there are other avenues to consider.
“There's other ways to spend it down,” Moffatt said. “Cutting a mill (in property taxes) saves you $350,000. You could use it for operating budget.”
When approving a budget for 2013, commissioners cut real estate taxes by 1 mill.
During the fall discussions of the $14 million budget, Moffatt referred to the township's $7 million in reserve saying, “We just have too much money.”
Officials have attributed the rosy situation to residential development, which has boosted transfer tax and real estate transaction fees. Plus, the township collected more delinquent taxes than expected and spent less than anticipated.
Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to be featured in TV series
- Tax refund promise led Ligonier teacher to second career as corgi breeder
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Latrobe hospital source of fuel spill
- Greensburg bishop’s time at helm draws to a close
- Unity woman loses appeal of DUI conviction
- Delmont man’s next challenge is to compete in swim in chilly Finland river
- Fuel spill discovered on Loyalhanna Creek
- Jeannette to use grant to secure Monsour
- Judge to Cook Township drug suspect: Get new friends
- Westmoreland man’s walk in Niagara Falls State Park wasn’t allowed, police say