Coun­cil ap­proves ten­ta­tive $5.67M bud­get with no tax hike

The Advance of Bucks County - - YARDLEY-MORRISVILLE AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

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.

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