Bud­get for 2019 holds line on taxes

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

LOWER POTTSGROVE >> Town­ship taxes will re­main the same in 2019 pre­sum­ing the bud­get ad­ver­tised this week by the com­mis­sion­ers re­mains un­changed.

The com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously Mon­day night to ad­ver­tise the $6.4 mil­lion 2019 bud­get that calls for a 1 per­cent in­crease in spend­ing, but no tax hike.

Town­ship Man­ager Ed Wag­ner said the ex­act 2019 bud­get spend­ing amount is $6,366,989 — which is only $35,059 more than the cur­rent bud­get.

How­ever, the bud­get nev­er­the­less calls for us­ing $328,749 of re­serve funds to bal­ance ex­penses

and rev­enues and avoid the tax hike.

He said dur­ing the bud­get process that more than $400,000 in pro­posed spend­ing was cut from the bud­get draft to get it to this point.

The to­tal tax rate will re­main at 3.618 mills, with 2.708 mills to fund the gen­eral bud­get, a .66 mill fire tax and a .25 mil tax first im­posed last year that is be­ing used to cre­ate a cap­i­tal projects fund to help pay for the planned new town­ship com­plex at the cor­ner of East High Street and South Pleas­antview Av­enue.

That tax costs a home as­sessed at $125,000, the town­ship me­dian, $31.25 per year.

The cap­i­tal projects tax gen­er­ates $150,000 an­nu­ally and will prob­a­bly be tapped to pay Bur­sich En­gi­neers to pre­pare bids for the de­mo­li­tion of homes on the site, which also was ap­proved unan­i­mously by the com­mis­sion­ers Mon­day night.

Taken to­gether, the an­nual tax bill for a home as­sessed at $125,000 is just over $450.

Sewer fees will re­main $136 per quar­ter, as they have been since 2014, Wag­ner said.

Trash bills will re­main at $137.50, billed once per year, and the “lo­cal ser­vices tax” of $52 per per­son re­mains the same as well.

The bud­get as­sumes a “no growth econ­omy” ac­cord­ing to the sum­mary Wag­ner pro­vided to The Mer­cury and will also ac­com­mo­date a con­tracted 3.25 per­cent raise for the town­ship’s po­lice of­fi­cers, as well as one new pa­trol car.

The town­ship will also con­trib­ute $164,000 to­ward pen­sion costs not cov­ered by state aid.

Non-uni­form em­ploy­ees, who re­ceive raises only based on per­for­mance re­view, con­trib­ute 2 per­cent of their salaries to­ward pen­sion costs and po­lice pay 5 per­cent of their salary to­ward their pen­sion, the max­i­mum al­lowed by the state, ac­cord­ing to Wag­ner.

Health pre­mi­ums for non­uni­form em­ploy­ees were re­duced by 5.5 per­cent by in­creas­ing co-pays.

Po­lice cur­rently pay noth­ing to­ward their health care, which will go up by 6.5 per­cent in 2019, but can cur­rently con­trib­ute to a health sav­ings ac­count in prepa­ra­tion for next year. That’s when po­lice will be­gin to pay 25 per­cent of their de­ductible, $1,300 for in­di­vid­u­als and $2,600 for fam­i­lies, said Wag­ner, as laid out in the cur­rent con­tract.

The cur­rent con­tract with the po­lice of­fi­cers’ union ex­pires in 2020.

The po­lice bud­get of $3,339,409 com­prises 52 per­cent of the town­ship’s gen­eral fund.

The com­mis­sion­ers are ex­pected to adopt the fi­nal bud­get at the Dec. 20 meet­ing.

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