Council OKS budget; holds line on taxes, lowers trash fees
MORRISVILLE BOROUGH -- In a split vote, Borough Council voted to DSSURvH D finDO $5,660,929 EuGJHt IRU thH 2013 fiVFDO year which contains no tax hikes and gives residents a $20 VDvLnJV Rn thHLU yHDUOy trash costs.
On DHF. 10 FRunFLO vRtHG 5-3 tR DFFHSt thH tHntDtive budget which was approved last month, with council members Debbie Smith, Todd Sanford and Eileen Dreisbach dissenting.
Borough manager Tom Bates said that the budget, whLFh tDkHV HIIHFt -Dn. 1, is going to be tight without raising taxes, but will keep municipal services at current levels.
In addition, the borough’s tDx UDtH wLOO UHmDLn Dt 40.93 mills, with the average hRmHRwnHU wLth D $20,000 assessment paying about $820 Ln SURSHUty tDxHV.
One of the key points is another decrease in residential trash fees, which wLOO GURS IURm $305 SHU hRuVHhROG Ln 2012 tR $285 Ln 2013, thH VHFRnG VtUDLJht year the fees have declined. However, the commercial rates will remain the same Dt $590.
Bates noted that the lower costs for residents was possible because the borough has so far collected mRUH thDn $123,000 RI thH URuJhOy $600,000 Ln GHOLnquent trash fees in an ongoing program.
The borough’s total sanitation expenses for the FRmLnJ fiVFDO yHDU DUH HVtLmDtHG Dt URuJhOy $1.03 million.
Meanwhile, the proposed fiVFDO SDFkDJH DOORFDtHV $1,604,233 IRU thH SROLFH GHSDUtmHnt, DERut 30 SHUcent of the Morrisville’s overall budget.
ThH 10 IuOO-tLmH RIfiFHUV will earn a little more than $63,000 Ln 2013. ThDt LnFOuGHV thH 2.5-SHUFHnt SDy raise as stipulated under the arbitration award accepted by borough council in August. Depending on length of service, full-time RIfiFHUV wLOO DOVR UHFHLvH DnRthHU 2.5 tR 3.5 SHUFHnt of their annual salary in longevity pay.
The four part-time offiFHUV wLOO HDUn $19.76 Dn hour, with the police chief’s VDODUy VHt Dt $82,103.
In addition, the police EuGJHt LnFOuGHV $34,000 for a new, fully-equipped police car, and also provides the borough’s full and SDUt-tLmH RIfiFHUV Dn DOORwance for uniforms.
AnRthHU $20,000 wDV DGGHG tR thH 2013 EuGJHt for the purchase of new police radios, bringing the anticipated total cost to about $67,000.
According to borough RIfiFLDOV, BuFkV CRunty LV helping local governments to take out loans to offset the expense of buying new emergency services radio equipment to meet the Federal Communications Commission mandates that take effect next October requiring a change in broadcast frequencies.
UnGHU thH finDO EuGJHt, both non-union an union non-uniformed municipal employees will receive a three-percent pay raise next year, with school crossing guards and park workers UHFHLvLnJ D fivH-SHUFHnt salary boost.
The salary for the borough manager, a contract SRVLtLRn, LV VHt Dt $45,000.
About a tenth of the municipal budget covers administrative costs, with $223,835 HDUmDUkHG IRU recreation programs and MuVt unGHU $210,000 tR RS- erate the borough’s public library next year.
However, the budget is lean on providing money for trimming and removing borough-owned shade tUHHV. OnOy $15,225 LV VHt aside for shade trees next year, an allocation which has concerned several council members, especially in light of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
During the storm, about 60-70 tUHHV wHUH uSURRtHG, wLth DERut 20 IDOOLnJ Rn houses and cars, according tR ERURuJh RIfiFLDOV.
ThH 2013 EuGJHt DOVR VHtV DVLGH nHDUOy $165,000 to pay for operating and maintaining street lighting, a cost Morrisville is trying to drastically cut.
In August, borough council voted to pay Johnson Controls, Inc., an engineerLnJ FRnVuOtLnJ fiUm, mRUH thDn $26,000 tR FRnGuFt D study of how the borough FDn LmSURvH HnHUJy HIficiency, such as installing new HID or LED street lights.
Council members had expected Johnson Controls to make its recommendations in October, but a formal report is not expected for several more months.
According to Bates, the borough currently spends DERut $120,000 D yHDU tR keep the street lights on, a cost which he said could be UHGuFHG tR DURunG $70,000 wLth hLJh-tHFh HnHUJy HIficient lighting.
“The new lights we would be buying would also be JuDUDntHHG 30 yHDUV,” hH nRtHG. “WH VSHnG $25,000 a year on maintenance DORnH.”
The borough manager explained that a new lighting system, if approved by council, would “not FRVt tDxSDyHUV DnythLnJ” because of the savings in electricity and replacing bulbs.
An outside loan would be secured to upgrade the street lighting system, with the savings used to pay off the loan.
At the meeting, Bates also announced that he signed a contract for an updated telephone system for munLFLSDO RIfiFHV Ln whLFh the borough will receive new LED phones that can handle more incoming calls at one time.
In addition to unlimited regional and national calling, the new system will also provide an underground landline which can still operate in an emer- gency, such as during the recent super storm.
Bates also told council that he renewed the contract with Exelon which will save the borough an DGGLtLRnDO 14-SHUFHnt Ln HOHFtULFLty FRVtV Ln 2013.
In other action, council vRtHG 6-2 tR DSSURvH D mRtion designating the borough manager or borough secretary as custodian of records and to not to allow Dny RIfiFLDO GRFumHnt Rut of the building.
According to borough solicitor James Downey, original records can still be viewed and photocopied by the public.
“This precludes moving original records from the building, so they can’t be ORVt,” hH HxSODLnHG.