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Rush Township tax hike sparks fury

Published January 05. 2010 05:00PM

Less than two weeks ago, Rush Township homeowners basked in the warmth of the news that their property tax would be staying the same this year.

But as a bitter cold blast of winter weather hit hard on Monday, they learned they would be paying an additional 1.5 mills a 36.4 percent increase.

Further, sewage fees will be going up in Hometown, from $117.81 to $172 per quarter. The rates will be going down in Lake Hauto, from $180 to $160 per quarter.

Supervisor Chairman Steve Simchak explained that the township must increase the sewer rates in Hometown if it is to obtain government grants for planned sewage projects. The decrease in Lake Hauto was due to a number of factors, including that the loan to install the systems is close to being paid.

Supervisors expect to decide whether to adopt the revised spending plan when they meet at 9 a.m. Jan. 22.

The proposed increase, coupled with the odd morning meeting scheduled to adopt it, sparked anger from many in the audience.

One resident, Joseph Shamonsky, was so outraged he had to be escorted from the meeting after he shouted and swore at supervisors.

Supervisors said the increase is necessary to keep the growing township moving forward.

The decision made Monday by supervisors Simchak and new supervisor Robert Leibensperger Jr. to open the budget adopted on Dec. 22 by then-supervisor William Sanchez Jr. and supervisor Shawn Gilbert (Simchak was absent from that meeting).

The Dec. 22 budget called for the property tax to stay the same, at 4.12 mills.

The decision Monday to open the spending plan and increase the tax sparked fury from Gilbert.

"I don't get it," he said, citing a $228,932 carry-over from 2009.

Sanchez and Gilbert on Dec. 22 had cut a long list of items from the budget, including freezing wages, dropping $10,000 allocated to the creation of a township Web site, cutting the township secretary/treasurer and road foreman back to part-time without benefits, cutting $1,600 for bulletproof vests for police, $10,000 to demolish an adjacent building, cutting a $24,000-a-year clerk's job and eliminating $50,000 earmarked for "development services."

Many of the cuts were restored Monday.

The new 5.62-mill tax rate means that the owner of a home assessed for taxes at $50,000 a year would pay $281, up $75 over last year's tax bill.

The millage breaks down to 3.21 mills for the general fund; .50 for the building fund; .41 for fire protection; 1.5 for roads and other infrastructure maintenance and improvements.

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