Draft bud­get shows no tax hike

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Denise Larive For Digital First Me­dia

The Amity Town­ship Board of Su­per­vi­sors is re­view­ing a 2018 bud­get with the goal of avoid­ing a tax in­crease.

Town­ship Man­ager Troy Binga­man said at the board’s Nov. 1 meet­ing that the cur­rent ex­penses pro­posed is $4,697,754, an in­crease of $81,017 from the 2017 bud­get amount of $4,616,737.70.

“Rev­enues are flat, and to keep ex­penses in line with that, the bud­get does not in­clude one of­fice cur­rently de­ployed, and no money trans­fer to the cap­i­tal fund — all to not raise taxes,” said Binga­man.

The pro­posed bud­get does in­clude a quar­terly res­i­den­tial sewer rate in­crease of $10, rais­ing the quar­terly sewer rate from $100 to $110.

Busi­ness Man­ager Tracy Nona­maker said the sewer in­crease would re­sult in a sur­plus

of $1,300 at the end of 2018.

The rate in­crease would yield $160,000 ad­di­tional rev­enue to the sewer fund.

“We did just bump it up,” said Su­per­vi­sor Paul R. Weller, adding, “we can’t in­crease it ev­ery year.”

“I’m not ap­prov­ing that,” said Weller.

The board in­creased sewer rates for 2017 from $90 to $100 per quar­ter.

It also in­creased taxes for the first time in 10 years from 1.95 mills to 2.45 mills.

Prop­er­ties with an as­sessed value of $100,000 are charged an an­nual tax bill of $245.

“If we don’t in­crease sewer rates, we need to re­move $160,000 from the sewer bud­get,” said su­per­vi­sors’ Chair­per­son Kim­berly J. Mc­Grath.

The board is ex­pected to fi­nal­ize and ap­prove the pre­lim­i­nary bud­get on Nov. 15, al­low­ing for a 30-day pub­lic re­view pe­riod be­fore fi­nal ap­proval in De­cem­ber.

Binga­man said the town­ship re­cently in­creased its sewer debt ser­vice by $1.5 mil­lion.

Those funds will be used to up­grade two sewer pump sta­tions and other pro­posed sewer projects through 2020, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion of the Leaf Creek In­ter­cep­tor on Route 662.

The $1.5 mil­lion is part of a $7 mil­lion mu­nic­i­pal bond ap­proved by the board on Sept. 6 to re­fi­nance $4 mil­lion of cur­rent debt and fi­nance the fu­ture sewer projects.

Amity Town­ship will re­ceive $5.5 mil­lion from the $7 mil­lion re­fi­nance.

Board mem­bers said on Sept. 6 that res­i­den­tial sewer bills would in­crease $5 per quar­ter -- not the cur­rently pro­posed $10 in­crease.

“You said rates need to go up by $5 per quar­ter, but this is $110 a quar­ter and just barely meet­ing ex­penses -- and that in­cludes pro­jected rev­enues at $100 per quar­ter,” said Nona­maker.

The board awarded the Leaf Creek In­ter­cep­tor con­struc­tion work to Almeida & Hu­dak LLC, Ply­mouth Meet­ing, Montgomery County, for their low bid of $1,005,614.

Mc­Grath said Almeida was $900,000 less than the high­est bid­der. Bids were opened Oct. 31. Ebert Engi­neer­ing of Sch­wenksville es­ti­mated the work to con­struc­tion cost at $1,151,545.

Con­struc­tion work is ex­pected to start in De­cem­ber and con­clude within 180 days.

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