Be aware of your local government’s spending plans

Local governments in Pennsylvania are preparing their 2018 budgets, deciding how to spend your hard-earned tax money.

Do you care?

Are you invested in your local municipality and county?

Do you know just how your local elected public servants spend your money?

You should. You really, really should.

Here’s a test: Check a recent pay stub.

Do you notice any “local” tax deductions?

City. Township. Borough. County.

These all operate on calendar year budgets versus the state and school districts, whose fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30.

For example, did you know that a number of local municipalities assessed an earned income tax?

It’s 1 percent of your annual salary, in some cases.

That would be in addition to property taxes … and in some cases, mercantile or business taxes.

There’s a local, flat service tax, too.

Hey, services provided by your local government are necessary … and important.

Road maintenance and repair.

Signage.

Police protection.

Zoning and zoning enforcement.

Planning, permits and code enforcement.

But here’s a question for which you should find an answer: Is your local government spending your money wisely?

Good public servants will readily and thoroughly answer that question.

They are the stewards of your money … and your local community to a large extent.

Are they frugal?

They should be.

Are they spending every dollar, or are they (also) growing a surplus that perhaps they don’t really need?

Too often, government thinks it needs to grow … that it needs more of your money to spend.

There are plenty of examples here.

In Pennsylvania, now is the time of year when city councils, township boards of supervisors, county commissioners, borough councils and similar local government commissions unveil their budgets for the upcoming year.

They’re required to post the budget for public inspection at your local government office, provide public notice summaries to local newspapers and put their plans online.

They also must approve or adopt a budget by Dec. 31, though they have the option of re-opening their budgets for change after Jan. 1.

So it’s now when they decide to raise your taxes or keep them unchanged.

Educate yourself. Participate.

Give your opinion to your local government officials as to their spending priorities.

Whether your local government, your school, state or federal taxes, look after your money.

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