2012 Preliminary Budget Calls for 4.6% Tax Increase in Marple
Marple Township Finance Director Ed O'Lone presented the township commissioners with an overview of the 2012 preliminary budget.
BROOMALL–Ed O'Lone, Marple Township finance director, presented his tenth budget to the Board of Commissioners at a work session meeting Wednesday, Nov. 9.
For the average homeowner in Marple, with an assessed home valued at $161,000, the projected 4.6 percent tax increase in the 2012 preliminary budget translates to an increase from $4.11 per $1,000 of assessed value to $4.30.
Marple residents may expect to pay $31 more on property taxes next year or about $2.55 per month more. The average homeowner in Marple currently pays $661.71 in taxes per year and will look to pay $692.30 in 2012.
O'Lone said several of the biggest "drivers" of the 2012 budget include funding the replacement of the entire HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system in the municipal building, which is estimated at $350,000, and $60,000 for the demolishment of an old garage at the Old Marple School site on Malin Road.
In addition, O'Lone estimated another $30,000 in potential architectural or appraisal fees for the new emergency services building.
Due to unexpected emergency sewer repairs this year–such as Arden Road, Sproul Road, Martins Run, and New Ardmore Avenue–O'Lone said the township spent $120,000 in unbudgeted repairs for 2011.
"Fortunately we had enough funds in the reserve to cover these costs," added O'Lone. "We will most likely experience more emergency repairs as, obviously, the infrastructure gets older and older and ages."
In addition, the overall percentage of water usage in 2011 dropped approximately 7 percent in comparison to 2010. The rate per thousand gallons, said O'Lone, has increased since the operating cost is spread out through the total usage.
"In order to keep this financially sound, I recommend increasing the current sewer rate of $5.15 per thousand gallons to $5.35 per thousand gallons, and the well increase from $270 a year to $280 a year," recommended O'Lone to the commissioners on Wednesday evening.
For the average homeowner, with an average usage of 50,000 gallons per year, the increased rate would be approximately $10.64 a year. According to O'Lone, the rate has not increased since 2009.
"We're currently experiencing a very challenging year here at the course in the township," said O'Lone.
The country club closed its golf course in January and February of this year due to the weather and the amount of rainfall, which created a significant revenue loss. As of Oct. 31 the club reported a revenue loss of $92,000 in comparison to the same period of time the year prior.
"I'm hopeful the club can still contribute $300,000 of its income to the general fund this year, and this annual contribution off-sets operating costs in the general fund which in turn reduces the real estate tax on all our taxpayers each year," said O'Lone.
O'Lone was optimistic for the club's revenues in 2012 and that it would "bounce back." An increase in golf rates for 2012 are not anticipated at this time, said O'Lone.
The refuse fund remains "currently sound," said O'Lone. Homeowners continue to receive two trash pickups per week and twice a month recycling pickups. However, the 2012 preliminary budget includes the purchase of a new trash truck.
According to O'Lone, the purchase for the truck will be financed through three years with an approximate cost of $880,000 in addition to the second annual payment of the township's roll-up truck.
"I'm asking the board for a modest increase here in the refuse fund to the annual curb pickup fee of $5 per year and $10 per year for rear pickup," addressed O'Lone. "This fee would generate about $39,000 in additional revenue to off-set the increasing operating costs and to purchase this truck."
"The primary budget showed a projected unassigned fund balance for the end of 2011 to be $1.8 million," said O'Lone. "This may sound like a lot of money but, monthly, our expenditures average $1.1 million in the general fund."
The next budget workshop session will be held on Friday, Nov. 18, at 8 a.m. in the municipal building.