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Franklin Twp. supervisors hike taxes for 2010

Published November 18. 2009 05:00PM

Franklin Township supervisors tentatively adopted the 2010 budget on Tuesday night that calls for a tax increase of 1 and 1/2 mills. Since one mill equals $10 for every $10,000 of assessed value, taxes on an average home assessed at $80,000 will increase by $120.

Sandra Gaumer, secretary, said that no one wants to see a tax increase, but to meet expenses the township had no other choice.

She explained that the economic recession experienced in 2009 has had a significant negative impact on the 2009 budget.

"The negative impact began toward the end of 2008 and the balance brought forward was approximately $27,000 less than anticipated," she said.

Total revenues for 2009 were budgeted at $1,620,826.67, but they are now estimated to be $1,512,629.37, a revenue loss of $108,197.30. The greatest revenue loss was in earned income tax, which was down $47,000. Also showing a significant revenue loss was real estate transfer tax, $32,000 and fines were down $18,000. Interest earnings brought in $6,800 less and sewage permits were down $2,500 for a total of $106,300. The township will also received $6,000 in State Liquid Fuels Fund allocation in 2010, due to less gasoline tax revenue and the state Department of Economic Development is going to either eliminate their reimbursement for municipal regulation of Act 537 on-lot sewage, or cut the reimbursement by approximately 60 percent.

For Franklin Township, that will be a loss of $6,200 to $8,000.

Gaumer said that township spending was less than anticipated in the road maintenance department, which saved the township $42,300, but that the police department was over budget by $9,500. In order to balance the budget, supervisors decided to reduce the following items: reduce the transferred amount to road equipment from $15,000 to $10,000; reduce the reserve fund amount to employee benefits from $10,000 to $5,000. The township was able to transfer $30,000 from the garbage fund to the garbage collection vehicle and equipment fund because the expenditure was equal to its revenue.

Gaumer said that township's tonnage has decreased due to resident's recycling.

Since the economy is expected to make a slow recovery, Gaumer estimated revenues for 2010 are expected to remain below normal. This has affected the township's police pension plan and non-uniformed pension plan which means that the township obligation will be $33,551more than the State Pension Aid will cover. The supervisors also had to budget more for cost increases in electricity, workers' compensation and liability insurance and wages.

In an effort to cut costs, the supervisors decided to eliminate the usual $12,000 transfer to the Capital Reserve Police Vehicle and Equipment Fund and reduce the transfer to the Reserve Fund Employees Benefits from $10,000 to $5,000.

Lower anticipated revenues and higher expenses forced supervisors to see no other option that to increase taxes by 1-1/2 mills to meet township expenses.

Supervisors tentatively adopted the 2010 budget that anticipates revenues of $1,638,430.

Expenditures include general government, $523,161; public safety $625,611; sanitation, $346,470; roads, $490,341; recreation, $27,831; conservation, $250; debt service, $140,891; miscellaneous expenditures, $40,949; and other, $14,750.

"We can't cut spending for police vehicles every year," she said. "But for this year, we should be fine. We just got a Ford Explorer for the police so that should be good for this year."

Three residents of the township questioned supervisors on the outdoor furnace ordinance that was adopted last month. One resident said that the outdoor furnace helps reduce costs of heating a home and should be encouraged, not regulated. He said that when burned properly the furnace is safe, efficient and effective. He offered his services to anyone seeking information about how they operate.

One of the residents said that he has recently purchased an outdoor furnace and cannot meet the requirements. He asked if he could apply for a variance.

Chairman Rod Green said that he was unsure, but would call him after speaking with the township solicitor.

The third resident said that his outdoor furnace would not meet the requirements of the ordinance, but he was told that he was "grandfathered."

Supervisors also adopted an ordinance that establishes a $10 fee for tax collectors to charge when asked to prepare tax certifications and duplicate tax bills. The township also established a $1,000 fee to apply for a variance. Any fees over costs will be returned to applicant.

The township established a $25 fee to install an outdoor wood furnace.

The township also approved spending $25,000 for a used Fail mower and paver from Penn-Hazel.

The township approved hiring Kenneth Ahner Jr. as a CDL fill in driver.

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