Rush to cut police, secretaries to balance budget
In order to balance the budget in 2014, Rush Township Supervisors say they must eliminate two full-time positions, a police officer and a township secretary. Rush Township currently has two full-time secretaries; one will be changed to a 20-hour-per-week position. Rush currently has three full-time police officers; one full-time officer position will be covered by part-time officers.
With those changes, along with a pay freeze for all township employees, the 2014 budget will not include a tax increase, the supervisors said. Chairman Shawn Gilbert and Vice-chairman Robert Leibensperger voted in favor of the budget, while supervisor Jeanine Motroni voted against it, stating that she had not had time to review it.
Gilbert said that without those changes, the budget shortfall was about $85,000, and that one mill was equal to $109,406. The township's millage rate will remain at 5.62, which is broken down to 3.21 mills for the general fund, .50 for the building fund, .41 for fire departments and 1.5 mils for infrastructure. The total expenses for the 2014 budget are $980,250, with income estimated at $991,122.
The police department's full-time police officers are Sgt. Duane Fredericks and officers Corey Herring and Adam Sinton. According to the supervisors, one full-time officer position would be eliminated. The first and second-shift hours would be covered by a full-time officer, while the third shift hours would be covered by two part-time officers. To help retain a pool of part-time officers, Rush Township had recently raised the hourly pay for them to $15 per hour.
"Anybody from the public can look at the budget and see what we pay in insurances and pensions it's a lot," Gilbert said. "When you have a shortfall of more than $80,000, what are you going to do?"
The supervisors have not yet determined whether Herring or Sinton would be retained as a full-time officer. Each was hired at the same time.
Motroni drew attention to a specific line item which earmarked $51,000 for "land acquisition." Gilbert explained that the sum was derived from anticipated revenue the township should gain from transfer taxes on two properties which have recently sold. If the sales become final, the township should get transfer taxes from the two transactions, $34,000 and $17,000.
Referring to the police officer position, Motroni contended that the monies should be used to preserve the full-time position. Gilbert said that the monies could be set aside so that in the future, the township could acquire land to be used in recycling, including leaves and brush.
During the regular township meeting, which preceded the budget meeting, the supervisors:
Took steps to initiate a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation study regarding the traffic signal at the intersection of routes 309 and 54. In response to citizens' requests, the supervisors would like PennDot to evaluate whether or not there is a need for a left-turn signal for motorists coming south on Route 309 to the intersection. PennDot will study traffic volumes and operational characteristics of the intersection.
Hired Alexander Kosatschkow II as a part-time police officer.
Adopted policies for leaf collection and wood chipping. Both leaf collection and wood chipping (branches not to exceed eight inches in diameter) will take place from Oct. 1 through April 15.