Elizabeth Township plans for $200,000 deficit in 2017

By on November 16, 2016

Despite a $200,000 deficit in the proposed 2017 budget, the real estate tax in Elizabeth Township will remain at zero. The supervisors agreed to advertise the recommended spending plan during their Nov. 14 meeting. The public will have about a month to review it and ask questions prior to its expected approval in December.

In the general fund, revenue is anticipated to increase from $709,000 in 2016 to $751,000 in 2017. Expenses are also expected to increase, from $845,000 to $949,000 over the same time period.

The budget is similar to last year’s, with a few notable exceptions. First, the township will fill the newly-created position of office manager in 2017, while retaining Rita Snavely in her current position of assistant secretary-treasurer. TriStarr staffing recruited five eligible candidates. Two will be interviewed this week.

The new position will be 40 hours weekly, an increase from the current 20 plus meeting hours. Snavely will remain on board, transitioning to fewer hours. The 40 hours for the new position will include office hours and evening meeting attendance.

Also in next year’s budget is the purchase of three computers and software upgrades. The computers will be used by Snavely, the new hire, and road superintendent Glenn Martin. The computers will arrive this year, but the $5,835 payment will not be due until 2017.

Building capital construction costs are projected to increase from the $50,000 budgeted for 2016 to $75,000 in 2017. This will cover the cost for the municipal building and property to comply with Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) regulations.

General services engineering projected costs will increase from $10,000 in 2016 to $25,000 in 2017, in part because of the MS4 compliance project.

Health and hospitalization insurance costs will increase from a budgeted $30,000 in 2016 to a budgeted $70,000 in 2017. Year-to-date costs for this insurance have been almost $56,000, or $26,000 over budget for the current year.

In capital purchases, supervisors approved spending just over $50,000 for a Ford F550 truck chassis, and $40,000 for up-fitting. Both of these purchases are CoStar bids through the municipal government co-op. Supervisors deferred the purchase of a large V-plow for the truck at an additional $13,000. Supervisors were hoping to find a good used plow, but Martin believes they are hard to come by.

The supervisors were hesitant to approve the plow purchase because the proposed budget already has about $200,000 more in expenses than income. The shortfall can be covered by funds currently held in savings.

Martin sees several advantages in a new plow, including less blow-back onto the windshield, clearing roads with fewer passes, and being able to push snow up onto high banks in developments rather than inadvertently dumping it into driveways.

“Snow plowing is one service we provide for residents that they actually see,” Martin said.

In the highway aid fund, revenue is expected to increase slightly from $161,000 in 2016 to $169,000 in 2017. Expenses are projected to remain steady, with $2,000 drop from $172,000 to $170,000, despite a major planned purchase.

Projected highway construction costs are down $31,000, from $55,000 to $24,000 because scheduled road projects are maintenance only, with no construction or re-construction projects anticipated.

In the park account, revenue is expected to remain stable at just under $13,000, while expenses are projected to increase from $16,000 to $30,000. An additional $10,000 is budgeted for a Frisbee golf course at Elizabeth Township Park. This feature has been requested by residents. Also included in the increase is about $4,000 in additional contracted and paid services.

The November 2016 treasurer’s report included almost $600,000 held in investments, and about $900,000 in the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust (PLGIT) account for short-term investments.

In old business, zoning action against Stephen Fedula regarding the large number of vehicles at his pre-owned car lot in the 1300 block of Furnace Hills Pike is awaiting a date to be heard by District Judge Ed Tobin.

In other business, the supervisors approved spending no more than $10,000 for Impact 2017, that being “our share of updates to the (Lancaster County Comprehensive) plan.” The new version of the plan will be in effect until 2022.

Volunteers are needed for committees to review the plan and update the map. It was suggested that business people and local planning committee members be asked to sit on the committees. The work should start in early spring and be completed by December of 2017.

Also, supervisors briefly discussed the fee charged for park rentals. Only about 20 percent of park renters are township residents. The question was whether the fee should be increased for non-residents. Supervisor Jeff Burkholder said he is against raising the fee, but would be willing to lower the fee for local residents.

Snavely was not aware of any complaints about the park rental fees. Martin mentioned that most neighboring municipalities have a differentiated fee schedule. Supervisor Chairman Brian Wiker suggested that “we all do our homework and discuss this at the next meeting.”

The supervisors ended the meeting by thanking all veterans for their service, and noted the local vets who maintain the Veterans Memorial Wall at Elizabeth Township Park.

In other business:

  • Items inadvertently left at the township parks may be picked up at the lost and found at the municipal building on South View Drive.
  • The Brickerville Fire Company responded to 12 calls in October. There were 11 fire police calls. Northwest Emergency Medical Service answered 18 calls in October. Northwest EMS informed the supervisors that it will write off about $500,000 for 2016 because insurance companies don’t reimburse the costs of the ambulance and medic, and some people don’t pay their bills.
  • The zoning officer issued six permits in September for work valued at $779,520.
  • The next meeting of the board of supervisors will be on Monday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m., at the municipal building at 423 South View Drive, Brickerville.

Community Events:

  • The Brickerville Lutheran Church at Route 322 and Hershey Road will hold a Thanksgiving Eve service on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. The annual Christmas Bazaar will be on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. until noon.
  • Those seeking to hike the Horseshoe Trail near Route 501 north of Brickerville will find access a lot easier. A landowner has relocated the trail as it crosses his property so that the trail is closer to the road. Please park in the lot on the east side of 501, across from the Pretzel Hut restaurant.
  • The monthly collection of recyclables will be on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. until noon at the municipal building. Volunteers are needed to the station in April, May, June, July, August, September, November and December. Call the municipal office at 626-4302.
  • The Brickerville Volunteer Fire Company sponsors bingo on Tuesday evenings at 7 at the fire hall on Hopeland Road. Come early for supper!

More information is available at elizabethtownship.net and on the Elizabeth Township Facebook page.

Melinda S. Elmer is a freelance reporter who lives in the Brickerville area. She covers the Elizabeth Township municipal beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story tips at elmermm@dejazzd.com.

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