Council approves tentative $5.67M budget with no tax hike
MORRISsILLE BOROUGH -- In a split vote, Borough Council approved a $5.S7 preliminary 2013 budget Nov. 19 which holds the line on taxes and gives residents a $20 savings on their annual trash costs.
On Nov. 19, council voted 5-3 to accept the tentative budget, with members Debbie Smith, Eileen Dreisbach and Todd Sanford dissenting.
“There’s a zero percent increase while still maintaining services,” announced Council President Nancy Sherlock. “It was carefully prepared.”
The proposed budget was discussed during a special half-hour public hearing Monday night, which preceded council’s regularlyscheduled monthly meeting.
7hH finDO EuGJHW, whLFh can still be tweaked, is expected to be approved at council’s December meeting, and would take effect Jan. 1.
While council members examined the numbers and questioned some expenditures, Borough Manager Tom Bates warned, “unless you want to raise taxes, the budget is really going to be tight.”
One of the key points in the package is the decrease in residential trash fees from $305 per household this year to $285 in 2013.
However, council member Smith noted that in this year’s budget commercial properties received a $1S discount in trash fees from 2011, while the proposed budget provides no such price break to businesses.
“If I gave them money back I would have to cut the residential rebate,” Bates responded.
“[Commercial establishments] generate almost four times as much trash as a resident and they only pay about twice as much,” he added.
But the preliminary budget is lean on providing money, roughly $12,000, for trimming and removing boroughowned shade trees, a point raised by Councilmember Smith especially in light of the recent hurricane which hit hard many of those trees.
According to assistant manager Bob Seward, about S0-70 trees were uprooted in the past storm, with about 20 falling on houses and cars.
“But we fared pretty well compared with other municipalities,” he declared.
Seward explained that if any residents had property damaged by borough-owned trees, they should contact their homeowners’ insurance company, which will then deal with the borough’s insurer for reimbursement.
However, Shirley May of North Lafayette Avenue took issue with the Morrisville’s tree policy, saying that her property was damaged by a borough tree.
“If you had removed the tree before the storm, I would not be here,” she asserted, “your inability to act has caused thousands of dollars in damage to my property.”
May claimed that for more than eight years she has been asking that the tree be removed, noting that he re- quests have “not been unreasonable.”
“I have already replaced three sidewalks and cleaned up many acorns,” she said.
Neighbor Scott Pattley agreed, telling council during the public comment session that “homeowners were out thousands of dollars” over the years because of the trees.
Seward said that many of the trees were planted in the 1950s, and that those in question “were all alive and substantial.”
“The wind came right across [the Morrisville High 6FhRRO IRRWEDOO fiHOG] DnG took every tree that was there,” Seward explained.
Borough manager Bates contended that it would be unfeasible to remove every tree down in Morrisville to which residents object. “We take down all diseased trees and every tree that has a problem.”
To which Council President Sherlock added, “we barely have enough money to take down dead trees.”
But Pattley seemed unconvinced, warning council, “it’s a ticking time bomb.”
Meanwhile, the new budget also earmarks $34,000 for a new, fully-equipped police car, as well as provides the borough’s full and part-time RIfiFHUV Dn DOORwDnFH IRU unLforms.
,n DGGLWLRn, RIfiFHUV wLOO UHceive between a four and sixpercent salary hike to cover union raises and longevity pay.
The 2013 budget also has added another $20,000 for the purchase of new police radios, bringing the anticipated total cost to about $S7,000.
According to borough offiFLDOV, BuFNV CRunWy LV hHOSing municipalities to secure loans to offset the expense of buying new emergency services radio equipment to meet the Federal Communications Commission frequency mandates that take effect in October 2013.
In other action, borough council unanimously voted to adopt an updated borough non-discrimination policy, as well as approving the route for the Winterfest Parade on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Copies of the tentative budget are available at the ERURuJh RIfiFH DW 35 8nLRn Street, and it will also be posted on the municipal website.
The next scheduled council meeting is Dec. 10.