LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Budgets should be easier to understand

To the editor: 
Last week The Windsor-Hights Herald was kind enough to publish an editorial I had written, first online and then printed, about council salaries and health benefits.
I had been erroneously informed that council members received health insurance. Someone in the township office quickly discovered the mistake online, contacted the editor, and with my help it was corrected before being printed. I take full responsibility for what I wrote and at no time in this campaign have I ever intentionally stated anything that was untrue.
I did make an attempt to confirm this in the township budget. That may have been my mistake. The township budget is difficult to read, not as detailed as I think it should be, and the online version is a mere photocopy of the printed version. The budget line “Employee Group Insurance” only mentions the cost of $3.8 million a year. The section of “Township Council” only lists “Salaries and Wages” and “Other Expenses.”
“Other Expenses” is a general purpose, catchall term for things that are not salary. “Other Expenses,” unexplained and with spending attached to it, is listed 38 times by my count under different departments in the 2015 East Windsor municipal budget. I think that’s unacceptable. Is there no better way to break down that information into more detail? I encourage you all to go online and see for yourself how difficult or easy it is to read.
Some of this is not the township’s fault, to be fair. Some of it is from the state and their standards or laws pertaining to how budgets are to be presented to the public. I understand that, but the state’s standard for transparency does not meet my standard for transparency.
While we may be limited to what we can print in the official budget, there should be no reason that the township can’t post supplemental material to help further explain where our money is going. Some people may have received a letter with their property tax bill. That letter is quick to point out what percentage of our tax bill is for the township. It is clear and it is easy to read. The whole budget should be like that.
I think we can expand on that idea and post it online. We can use pie charts to explain what percentage of money is going to which department and where revenue is coming from. We can inform people of the current amount of employees in each department, how many are receiving health benefits, average salary, and the department head’s salary. We can further break down “Other Expenses” into more comprehensible bits. There is no limit to what we can do once we get out of the constraints of the current system. 
Steven J. Uccio 
Republican candidate for Township Council 
East Windsor 