After a brief discussion on the merits of oxford commas and line spacing in the minutes, the board handled a couple of quick issues:
- Dave Grady was authorized as an agent for a FEMA grant related to a property on Grant Rd. that’s prone to flooding.
- The township is acquiring a property near Mickey Vernon park on Bullens and authorized a survey of it if needed.
- The township authorized a payment for the Moore Rd. project, which is complete.
- The township is hiring a part time administrator, position will be advertised, hoping to hire by end of the year.
- The township will also advertise a previously approved stop sign on Moylan.
The main discussion was the budget. Once the preliminary budget is approved we’ll have the millage numbers for 2021 and together with the re-assessed property values, residents can figure out what they’ll owe in township taxes next year. County taxes should also be approved soon as well, but the school district won’t revise their numbers until the summer when they do their next budget.
- The budget is still increasing by just under 3% so far.
- There was a discussion of police salaries. Three officers are expected to retire within the next 3 years under the drop program negotiated by the police union, and the township is planning to set aside money that was accidentally misbudgeted last year to cover these upcoming severance expenses.
- Police salaries came in underbudget due to officers out on disability.
- Funds are set aside for negotiations with the police union next year.
- The budget funds for projects on Possum Hollow and Plush Mill were moved to the liquid fuels fund which has some money leftover from 2020, so that’s a reduction in the budget for 2021.
- The township has a new line for tree removal. Usually the township removes only one or two trees a year, and this year its been around 15, and they are budgeting for this now.
- There was much discussion of the fund balance, what’s in the township’s bank account at the end of the year minus liabilities still owed. Currently estimated to be 5%, which is on the low end of what’s healthy.
- The township is planning to spend money on IT hardware and software to improve in-person meetings, hoping to spend it in 2020 rather than next year.
- The township has budgeted to study its sewer system preparing for a potential sale.
There was a short discussion about taking advantage of low interest rate loans to pave roads to catch up with needed work. The township manager brought up the idea of implementing an Earned Income Tax, which scales with wages unlike property taxes, which have to be raised each year.
Once the preliminary budget is approved, no line item can be increased by more than 10%, but they can still be cut. The township-wide assessment roughly doubled so the millage rate is expected to be cut in half. But the township is still working on adjusting it for the expected delinquency rate. The board expects to approve a revenue-neutral millage rate at the Dec. 10th meeting and then pass the budget with the increase on December 17th. With that said the commissioners approved the preliminary budget of roughly $7.7 million dollars and moved to advertise it.
The commissioners discussed explaining the assessment and possibly reach out to those facing the largest increases, but they do not have the detailed assessment numbers yet. Dave Grady mentions that the township will need to plan its 2021 meeting dates soon.