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Lower Towamensing leaning toward another no tax hike

Published October 17. 2012 05:02PM

Lower Towamensing Township once again appears poised to keep the property tax rate in check next year.

At least, that was the consensus after a two-hour budget workshop Tuesday morning, at which time the township's board of supervisors reviewed the 2013 budget.

Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert said "I think we can all agree there will be no tax increase."

If the board were to approve next year's budget with no tax increase, it would again leave the property tax rate unchanged at 1.6 mills.

That would mean a person whose home is valued at $100,000, which would be assessed at $50,000, would again pay $80 to the township in property taxes next year.

Of note, supervisors agreed the township's light tax should be raised by five cents, from 35 to 40 cents per front foot, which Walbert stressed would be a "revenue neutral" deal.

Also, supervisors discussed wages for the township's full-time/part-time employees, at which point Walbert noted the road crew is working 40 hours a week.

Supervisor Jesse Mendez questioned the need for so many hours.

"I don't know why they are working 40 hours," Mendez said. "I don't see that there's 40 hours per week."

From a salary perspective, Walbert noted that compared to other neighboring municipalities, the township's pay schedule falls in the middle.

"If you look at our salary scale, we're average," Walbert said. "My opinion is a two-percent increase would be justifiable."

Township solicitor Jim Nanovic suggested the township propose two options: either a two-percent increase, or an extra week's worth of vacation time.

As for secretary Christine Wentz, supervisors agreed she will remain salaried up to 40 hours a week, and any time she accrues over that would be considered overtime.

Supervisors also discussed the township's parks and recreation fund, which Walbert noted has begun to run low.

"I think we need to put a couple of dollars in," he said. "We need to commit some money to the [recreation] area."

Finally, supervisors agreed to purchase five jackets at $40 apiece for the township road crew.

As part of this year's budget, the township's five employees received a 3-percent increase, while the township's contribution rate of the local services tax to the Aquashicola Fire Department was increased from 28 to 30 percent.

But, the township raised its light fund rate 10 cents, from 25 to 35 cents per front foot, as the result of a then-$473 deficit. The average person with a 50-foot frontage saw a $5 increase, while a person with a 30-foot frontage saw about a $3 increase.

Last December, supervisors adopted this year's budget with no increase in taxes, which left the property tax rate at 1.6 mills.

In 2011, supervisors approved a 2 percent raise in salary for township employees, as well as a $1 an hour raise for road foreman Charles Shupp, and a 50 cent an hour raise for road administrator Kathy Wallace. Also as part of that budget, senior citizens received a $10 discount on their garbage fees.

That came after supervisors in 2010 approved a budget that left the property tax rate unchanged, and also called for a 2 percent raise in salary for township employees.

In 2009, supervisors passed a budget that kept taxes in check, and included a 5 percent raise in the light tax, which raised the rate from 25 cents to 30 cents per front foot for Aquashicola residents who lived within 250 feet of a street light.

Also as part of that budget, supervisors increased the township's contribution rate of the local services tax to the Aquashicola Fire Department, from 25 percent to 28 percent.

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