Supervisors in Penn Forest Township met Monday night to begin the process of formulating the township's budget for 2010. Basing their projections on 2008 figures, 2009 figures through the end of the third quarter and estimates for line items from Carbon County, supervisors rolled out an initial budget that indicates it will cost just over $2.4 million to operate next year.

Many budget line items are expected to increase next year, including postage, supplies and electricity. One line item that won't be increasing, at least not at this stage of the budget's formulation, is employee wages. Like last year, township workers will remain locked at their existing salaries.

Monday night's was the first of a series meetings supervisors will conduct in order to finalize next year's budget. The next meeting will likely include representatives from the two township fire departments, both of which will be seeking township funds in order to operate next year.

The initial budget calls for a $45,000 contribution to each of the two fire departments, but some worry that it may not be enough. Supervisors asked representatives from both fire companies to send representatives to a workshop to be held in the near future and then to a public meeting should it become clear that more funding will be necessary.

"You're going to have to educate the community so they'll understand the money you need," Supervisor Chairman Paul Montemuro told the fire companies. "We're going to help you. We just want the residents to be educated. We are not into the business. We want you guys to explain how the business works."

"We're going to leave that up to you," supervisor Alan Katz said, "to persuade the taxpayers as to why they're going to need this service."

At this point, it's not clear exactly how much the fire companies will need to operate effectively in 2010. What is clear is that Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 will be making major renovations next year, Volunteer Fire Company No. 2 is already out of room in its facility and the equipment they are both using is getting older.

Supervisors did not set the date for the next workshop but will advertise it in advance.