Land-use webinar to focus on municipal budgets, comprehensive plans

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- How can municipal budgets be used to advance implementation of a municipal comprehensive plan? A Web-based seminar to be offered by Penn State Extension at noon Feb. 18 is aimed at answering that question.

Presenting the 75-minute webinar will be Denny Puko, planning program manager for the Pennsylvania Center for Local Government Services at the state Department of Community and Economic Development, and Dan Zimmerman, Warwick Township manager in Lancaster County.

"Understanding the Relationship between Municipal Budgets and Comprehensive Plans" will cover how a municipal budget reflects the roles of the governing body, planning commission and municipal staff members in developing a comprehensive plan. In addition, presenters will discuss ways that municipalities can connect their comprehensive plan to the development of their annual budget, according to Peter Wulfhorst, Penn State Extension educator, who is coordinating the session.

"The webinar will address how a municipal budget can reflect comprehensive plan objectives with documented municipal projects," he said.

Comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances that implement them promote types of land uses, plus location and density of development, explained Puko. All of these items have fiscal implications in terms of tax revenue generation as well as municipal service needs and costs.

"Comprehensive plans that provide specific actionable recommendations with cost estimates, proposed means of financing and time frames are better suited for municipal officials to develop their annual budgets," Puko said, noting that comprehensive plans can include longer-range, multi-year capital-improvement plans to guide how municipalities can assemble finances that are adequate to pay for costly plan recommendations, such as infrastructure.

Zimmerman will discuss how Warwick Township has coordinated planning efforts with financing projects through its annual municipal budget.

"By coordinating comprehensive plan objectives with line items in the municipal budget -- and documenting municipal projects to be funded by various grant opportunities as well as public dollars -- the township has used the municipal budget to ensure that projects are being implemented locally," he said.

Other webinars offered in the monthly land-use series, which all start at noon and are recorded for future viewing, include the following:

-- Recorded: "Using the Official Map for Your Community's Infrastructure."

-- March 18: "Planning to Protect Your Water Supply."

-- April 15: "All About Open Space -- Owning and Managing Natural Lands."

-- May 20: "Agri-Tourism for Pennsylvania Communities."

The cost of the webinar series is $30 for all five webinars and $60 for those who want to receive certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association.

For more information, contact Wulfhorst at 570-296-3400 or by email at ptw3@psu.edu. To register for the webinars, visit the website.

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Last Updated February 05, 2015