The Forks Township supervisors are expected to give residents a Christmas present when they approve the 2013 municipal budget -- with no tax increase -- at the final meeting of the year Thursday.
Officials believe they know that they should raise taxes next year to help offset rising expenses but supervisors say they wanted to do the right thing, knowing how people are still feeling the reeling effects of the economy.
But Forks officials are certainly thinking about the future.
At its meeting last month, officials approved a motion calling for a five-year plan for taxation to ensure that there's a balance between curbing financial costs and planning for future growth.
The plan was sparked by Supervisor Dan Martyak, who stated that he wouldn't be comfortable with a tax hike.
"Before I support a tax increase, I like to know about a plan," Martyak said. "I have zero faith in an economic recovery. So we should come up with a plan to get us back on track."
Supervisor John O'Neil said that plan should be the top agenda item to start the new year.
Martyak wants residents involved too.
"I encourage citizens to be part of the discussions, to have some input and help us move forward," Martyak said.
Supervisors Chairman Erik Chuss said that with upcoming fiscal issues, a five-year plan might help township officials figure out how to pay for expenses over the next few decades for road improvements, fire trucks, police cars and other items.
"We know we should have raised taxes this year by a quarter-mill or a half-mill," he said. "Avoiding a tax increase will be nearly impossible. It will be higher next year. If you look at the budget, we're cutting pennies. It's quite a fiscal challenge that we're facing here."
Supervisors discussed how long it might take to put such a plan together.
Martyak hoped for a plan to be submitted by the end of February with approval by April 30.
Chuss agreed that a plan should be in place by the second quarter of the year.
"A motion holds our feet to the fire," he said.
"We should have discussed this years ago," O'Neil said. "We've been delaying it, sitting with blinders on."