Borough Council proposes 2014 spending plan Receives $500,000 grant to help relocate railroad tracks

By on December 4, 2013

By:

PATRICK BURNS Record Express Staff

, Staff Writer

Lititz Borough Council approved a proposed budget that maintains a tax rate of 2.1 mills in 2014.

The proposed budget will be advertised and available for public inspection at the Lititz Borough office, 7 S. Broad St., until council meets for a budget adoption vote on Dec. 17.

Under the proposed budget, a property assessed at $100,000 would generate a $210 local real estate tax bill.

The spending plan also maintains all present tax rates and fees. That includes an earned-income tax and real estate-transfer tax both at 0.5 percent, and $10 annual fees for both occupation and per capita taxes.

The board appointed Trout, Ebersole & Groff as the borough’s 2013 independent auditor.

In other news, Scott Hain, chairman of the Regional Built & Natural Infrastructure Committee, reported that Lititz Borough received a $500,000 grant for its proposed $3 million downtown Norfolk Southern rail relocation project.

The plan seeks to remove out-of-date freight rail tracks that cross Route 501 and build a new switching yard west of the roadway.

Hain said the track removal will open an area in the borough’s downtown to redevelopment. He thanked Matthew Sternberg, executive director of the Lancaster County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities, for helping earn the grant.

"That is one of many steps that need to happen to get redevelopment going in the downtown corridor where tracks are (east of Route 501). But it’s a big one."

The project is part of the proposed rail trail from Lititz to Ephrata. The proposed trail in Lititz, between Oak Street and Route 501, was complicated because part of the rail line is still active.

Negotiations with Norfolk Southern, which could eventually create a turn-around on the west side of Rt. 501, could allow for the decommissioning of the tracks on the east side of the highway.

Currently, Norfolk Southern’s two Lititz rail customers are Johnson & Johnson and Wilbur Chocolate, both on the west side of 501.

In other news:

Hain said restrictions on the Hammer Creek Bridge on Route 501, north of Lititz, could end soon with the approval of Gov. Corbett’s $2 billion transportation bill.

He hopes the bridge will be removed from the restriction list and repaired using funds that the bill yields through a gas tax hike and other fee increases for motorists.

"Nobody knows for sure yet; there is a lot of gray in there," Hain said. "But we’re hoping it can be moved off the (restriction) list rather quickly because it has been moved up fairly high on the county’s priority list of bridges that need to be redone."

That bridge has been reduced from a 40-ton vehicle limit to only 19 tons. Large tractor-trailers and other big trucks are forced to detour, many through downtown Lititz.

Councilman Doug Bomberger noted that as many as 17 huge asphalt trucks detour through Lititz each day from a Myerstown plant.

The board announced the Lititz Springs Park band shell will close for repairs and renovations. Plans call for adding a concrete floor to the shell which will be closed until June. The shell was added as part of a Park Improvement Project in 1937.

Council President Karen Weibel noted that the Allentown Morning Call is planning a story on Lititz for the paper’s travel section.

Lititz continues to work with a consultant it shares with Warwick Township to compile its MS4 stormwater maps. MS4 plans require urbanized area – as defined by the 2000 U.S. Census – to include a set of digitized maps, one containing an overview of the urbanized area and another detailed map with street level features.

Weibel announced that Progressive Shopping Cards are available again this year for downtown shoppers. Participating retailers present the cards to customers who spend $20, and the card gets "punched" every time the customer spends $20.

"The initial purpose of the program was to get people to shop in more of the shops in the downtown," said Kelly Withum of Venture Lititz."

"When they have all 15 punches to fill their card they can be entered into a drawing for one of two gift baskets valued at about $500."

Customers who have returned filled-out punch cards to the Lititz Borough office through Jan. 8 will receive a "Love Live Shop Lititz" pin. Officials will announce drawing winners during the Lititz 2nd Friday celebration on Jan. 10.

Full cards can also be dropped off at one of the participating retailers.

This year’s Christmas in the Park celebration with Santa’s arrival in Lititz Springs Park is Dec. 6.

The event, scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m., includes Moravian Trombone Choir, Warwick High School Show Choir, Community Carol Sing, and the lighting of community Christmas tree. For additional information go to www.lititzspringspark.org.

More BOROUGH COUNCIL, page A19

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