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No initial tax increase, but that could change

Published November 19. 2009 05:00PM

Rush Township property owners may see their real estate tax rate stay the same, at 4.12 mills, next year.

Then again, they may not.

Supervisors on Tuesday approved a preliminary $2 million budget that calls for no tax increase, but warned that could change by the final adoption. Supervisors chairman Steve Simchak said officials have not yet determined whether or by how much the rate would rise.

Township officials factored in a 40.9 percent increase in health care costs, greater numbers of people failing to pay their taxes and the need to negotiate a new trash collection contract in 2011 as they crafted the spending plan.

Simchak said any millage increase would be earmarked for infrastructure and building. Supervisor Shawn Gilbert said he "didn't see the need for a tax increase."

Gilbert and Simchak voted in favor of the proposed spending plan; Supervisor William Sanchez voted against it.

Balancing the budget was a difficult task given rising costs and falling revenue.

The township pays health benefits to its full-time employees. Now, it uses Capital Blue Cross, but the coming rate hike is prompting officials to consider switching to HealthAmerica. The rate increase would boost the township's cost from $26,557 to about $37,432 a year, said secretary Terri Conville.

Also, Workers' Compensation insurance costs are expected to rise by about $4,000 next year because of claims that were filed. In addition, the tax collection rate is falling. This year, the township collected $345,000 in property tax. Next year, officials anticipate that figure will drop to $316,000.

Each mill generates $107,834.48 for the township. Of of the current millage rate, 3.21 mills is for the general fund; .5 mills is for the building fund; .41 mills is for fire protection.

Conville said that, under the current rate, the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would continue to pay $412 in property tax.

In other budget matters, sewer rates for Hometown residents would also be increased by $12.19 a quarter.

On the bright side, the township expects to carry over $200,000 from this year's budget.

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