Salisbury Press

Thursday, December 13, 2018

SALISBURY TOWNSHIP BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

Thursday, January 4, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Local News

2018 budget, 11.4 percent tax hike, approved

An 11.4 percent tax hike for property owners in Salisbury Township has been approved.

Township commissioners voted unanimously 5-0 to approve the 2018 township budget and set the 2018 tax rates at the Dec. 28, 2017 meeting.

Township millage for Salisbury Township property owners increases 0.224850 mills, from 1.97515 mills to 2.20 mills.

Based on the township median residential property assessment of $231,441, the annual increase is $52, from $462 to $514. Increases vary depending on property assessment. The increase provides $279,000 more in revenue, compared to 2017.

The 2018 township General Fund Budget is $8,943,412, an increase of $537,857 from the 2017 general fund budget.

The overall 2018 township budget is $16,060,423, a decrease of $748,804 from the 2017 overall budget.

“I think it’s a good budget,” Board of commissioners’ President James A. Brown said, presiding over his last board of commissioners meeting. Brown did not seek re-election.

“Paul and Cathy worked very well on this budget,” Brown said, referring to Salisbury Township Director of Finance Paul Ziegenfus and Salisbury Township Manager Cathy Bonaskiewich.

“It’s a tough budget,” Brown continued, adding, “Everything keeps going up.”

Commissioners voted 5-0 to increase water and refuse rates.

The water rate increases 4.1 percent, from 6.05 cents to 6.30 cents per 1,000 gallons, effective Jan. 1. The increase is a pass-through, resulting from a rate increase by Lehigh County Authority. The increase goes into effect with residents’ April 2018 first-quarter use billing.

The refuse and recycling rate increases $2 per quarter, from $65 to $67 per quarter, effective Jan. 1. The township contract with Republic Services, which includes a 3 percent increase, was extended. The increase is reflected in township residents’ January 2018 bill.

The township Earned Income Tax continues at 1 percent.

The township Local Service Tax continues at $52, with $42 allocated to the township and $10 to the Salisbury Township School District.

Commissioners also voted 5-0 to set the 2018 police pension and non-uniformed pension contributions.

The township will contribute $421,642 to the police pension plan in 2018. Police officers will contribute 3.04 percent of their annual compensation.

The township will waive contributions to the pension plan from non-uniformed employees.

The 2018 budget includes salary increases of 3 percent for non-union administrative staff, 3.25 percent for public works employees based on the union contract ending Dec. 31 and 3 percent for police officers based on the union contract ending Dec. 31, 2020.

Here are highlights of the 2018 Salisbury Township budget:

Police

Two police officers are to be hired. One officer will fill the vacancy of an officer who resigned. The other officer is an addition to the department.

The hiring of each officer will cost about $75,000, including salary and benefits.

With the new hire, there will be 20 full-time township police officers, including the police chief.

Included in the 2018 budget is $8,400 for seven personal replacement bullet-proof vests and additional money for car and body-camera systems.

A police car, a Dodge Charger, is to be purchased to replace a township police car demolished in September.

Two additional police vehicles, a Dodge Charger and a Ford Explorer, are to be purchased.

Earmarked is $200,000 to purchase the Eisenhower Avenue property from Western Salisbury Fire Department, scrapping a plan for an auxiliary police building at Eastern Salisbury Fire Company, East Emmaus Avenue and Honeysuckle Road, where site preparation costs are prohibitive. With expansion of Swain Station, Western Salisbury doesn’t require the Eisenhower facility.

Public Works

A public works employee will be hired to fill a vacancy.

There will be $160,000 for street-repair material, up from $125,000 in 2017.

Earmarked is $55,000 for a utility truck and $70,000 for a dump truck.

Capital Budget

The Capital Budget of $1,936,155 is a decrease of $1,360,685 from the 2017 township budget. The Capital Budget includes $869,000 to complete Phases 3 and 4 of the Lindberg Park project. With $637,000 provided by grants, a shortfall of about $232,000 is allocated, for the Lindberg Park project. Several capital projects are to be funded by bond proceeds received in 2016.

Unfunded Mandates

Included in the 2018 budget is $70,000 for development of a Pollution Reduction Plan. Costs related to the plan are expected to continue beyond 2018.

Capital Fund

A portion of the revenue expected to be generated by the tax increase will be placed in a “Rainy Day” Fund, or a Capital Fund, an account for unforeseen expenses and-or township improvements.

Here is an overview of the 2018 Salisbury Township Budget:

General Fund

Revenue: $8,943,412

Current Year: $8,539,278

Prior Year Reserves: $404,134

Expenditures: $8,943,412

Operating Expenditures

General Government: $861,630

Police: $2,243,600

Public Safety (Non-Police): $535,560

Highways, Public Works: $1,546,630

Recreation: $122,900

Environmental Advisory: $1,500

Insurance, Benefits: $2,199,697

Contributions, Miscellaneous: $57,690

Total Operating Expenditures: $7,569,207

Non-Operating Expenditures

Debt Service: $178,650

Capital: $1,195,555

Total Non-Operating Expenditures: $1,374,205

Fire Protection Fund

Revenue: $339,040

Expenditures: $339,040

Operating Expenditures: $175,740

Non-Operating Expenditures: $48,212

Transfers to Reserves: $115,088

Library Fund

Revenue: $81,780

Operating Expenditures: $81,780

Water Fund

Revenue: $2,427,868

Current Year: $1,725,800

Use of Prior Year Reserves: $702,068

Expenditures: $2,427,868

Operating Expenditures: $1,602,243

Non-Operating Expenditures: $825,625

Sewer Fund

Revenue: $2,214,973

Current Year: $1,810,200

Use of Prior Year Reserves: $404,773

Expenditures: $2,214,973

Operating Expenditures: $1,730,913

Non-Operating Expenditures: $484,060

Refuse & Recycling Fund

Revenue: $1,402,800

Operating Expenditures: $1,366,517

Transfer to Reserves: $36,283

Highway Aid Fund

Revenue: $471,900

Operating Expenditures: $237,400

Capital Expenditures: $70,000

Transfer to Reserves: $164,500

Commissioners voted 5-0 at the Nov. 21, 2017, meeting to approve a motion to advertise the public inspection period for the proposed 2018 budget.

Salisbury Township raised taxes in 2013, held the same tax rate in 2014 and 2015, raised taxes in 2016, and held the same tax rate in 2017.