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2019 Operational Budget demonstrates priorities for year ahead
The 2019 Operational Budget, presented Jan. 15th at a public work session of the Board of Trustees, reflects West Chester’s ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility and sets as a priority West Chester’s position as a leading edge community and one of “America’s Best Places to Live.”
“The Township’s overall financial picture is very positive as a result of past budget practices and strategic planning,’ said Finance Director Ken Keim. “Over the last 10 years West Chester’s net assets, or the carryover less the outstanding debt, has ended each year better off than it began. Much of these funds are restricted for specific purposed, but all are used together to provide benefit to the community.”
Through the loss of revenue from the State and the effects of the Great Recession, West Chester’s financial position has continued to improve due in part to the successful additions of TIF and JEDD, the cautious and responsible use of debt, and the sustaining property values.
The operational budget accounts for 10 funds – General Fund, four separate Roads Funds, Cemetery Fund, West Chester Community Television Fund, Police Fund, and Fire and EMS Funds. The work session focused on presentation of the primary funds – General Fund, Roads, Police and Fire and EMS.
Township Administrator Larry D. Burks presented an operational budget of approximately $49.3 million in expenditures, an increase from 2018 budgeted expenses of $45.3 million. The increase in budgeted expenses can generally be attributed to the anticipated costs of public safety software, the addition of school resources officers (the cost of which is offset by payment from Lakota Local Schools) and the potential consideration of land banking opportunities.
The operational budget is balanced, and gives continued significance to carryovers in the primary funds to mitigate risk and to support investment in the most critical needs of the community, said West Chester Finance Director Ken Keim.
The attributes Money Magazine considers in its ranking of “America’s Best Places to Live” and the recently approved 2019-2020 Organizational Strategic Plan were considered and applied in setting priorities as part of the 2019 Operational Budget.
In 2019, more than $34.8 million will be invested in police and fire services for the community. This accounts for nearly 71% of the operational budget. Taxpayers’ money invested in police and fire services helps to prevent and reduce crime, prevent and fight fires, and provide lifesaving medical care. These exceptional services, in turn, help to protect property values, reduce the burden on taxpayers through reduced insurance rates, and make West Chester an attractive place to invest as a business and as a resident.
More than $20 million in infrastructure improvements are also planned for 2019 funded from Township Roads Funds, as well as Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Infrastructure investment is critical to residents who rely on the local roadway system and for corporate stakeholders who demand ease of access. TIF is not considered as part of the operational budget, but plays an important part in funding infrastructure projects.
West Chester’s Operational Budget, presented each January, is not formally approved by the Board of Trustees. Permanent Appropriations serve as the Township’s official “budget.” The Operational Budget, however, is a more detailed illustration of expected expenditures assigned to specific budget priorities which are set by the Board of Trustees.
Watch West Chester’s 2019 Operational Budget Work Session video below.