BROOMALL–Marple Township Finance Director Ed O'Lone presented the 2013 preliminary budget at the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday evening. According to O'Lone, the budget is split into four separate funds–Sewer Fund, Paxon Hollow Golf Course Fund, Refuse Fund, and General Fund.
"This marks my 11th year compiling the annual budget here in Marple Township," said O'Lone. "It seems that every year the challenges to balance this budget gets more complicated with all the economic uncertainty."
According to O'Lone, in 2007, the township earned $190,000 a year in investment income, while in 2012 the township would be "lucky" to receive $10,000 in investment income.
Although the Sewer Fund will be expected to be $880,000, O'Lone said the fund still saw a loss of $71,000 this year due to emergency repairs.
"We will most likely experience more emergency repairs as the infrastructure ages," said O'Lone.
According to O'Lone, the Radnor-Haverford-Marple Sewer Authority and the Central Delaware County Authority (CDCA) will be raising rates close to 11 percent for 2013.
Due to the increase, O'Lone recommends increasing the current sewer rates to 3 percent or from $5.35 to $5.50 per thousand gallons, and the current well rate would increase from $300 to $310 per year. Altogether, this equates to $8 per year on the average home use in Marple Township, according to O'Lone.
"This has been the second increase in the past four years," said O'Lone.
Paxon Hollow Golf Course Fund
According to O'Lone, the Paxon Hollow Fund fared better this year than last year due to the mild winter. Last year, the golf course was closed both January and February due to inclement weather.
"We experienced an extremely mild winter which allowed the course to remain open every month," said O'Lone.
To date, revenue is up approximately $120,000 or 10 percent over last year. According to O'Lone, the Paxon Hollow Golf Course Fund is expected to contribute $265,000 to the General Fund this year.
"This annual contribution offsets operating costs to the General Fund, which in turn reduces real estate tax burden on our taxpayers each year," said O'Lone. The projected revenue is dependent on the golf course's performance and is not definite, however, O'Lone said he expects a slight increase in revenue in this fund for next year.
Currently, Marple Township schedules two trash collection days and one recycling day per week for every resident. O'Lone said this service should not change for 2013.
Next year's budget will include the purchase of a new roll-off finance over several years at a cost of $156,000. In addition, the township currently pays $23.45 per ton to the county to dispose of the township's trash. According to O'Lone, that price will jump 41 percent for next year to a rate of $33 per ton.
"This jump increases the fund's operating costs by approximately $91,000," said O'Lone. "This rate will remain unchanged through the calendar year of 2015."
In order to offset the increased costs, O'Lone recommends the commissioners to raise the annual curb pickup fee by 7.9 percent or from $190 to $205 per household and from $295 for rear pickup to $310.
According to O'Lone, the preliminary 2013 budget shows a projected unsigned fund balance of $2 million by the end of the year.
"This might sound like a lot of money, however, our monthly expenditures average $1.1 million in this fund," said O'Lone.
O'Lone said he recommends a 7.2 percent tax increase. For the average homeowner in Marple–with a home assessed at an approximate median value of $161,000–the millage rate would increase from $4.18 per thousand dollars of assessed value to $4.48.
The average homeowner would see an increase of $48.30. In total, the average homeowner in Marple may expect to pay $721.91 in 2013 in comparison to $673.62 in 2012.
Included in the 2013 preliminary budget are $2.6 million of capital purchases, projects, and additional contributions to the library and fire company. O'Lone said he also included borrowing $2 million in order to finance these capital items and contributions.
"We still have time to work on this preliminary budget. I am very confident and financially sound that a fiscally responsible budget will be adopted by this time next month," said O'Lone.
John Longacre, 5th ward commissioner, asked if the new emergency services building was included into the budget and if it would affect the tax increase at all.
"To me, this is the one year where I don’t have a problem with a little tax increase. You know I fought hard other years . I'm not concerned about this budget as is," said Longacre. "Seven percent, I don’t have a problem with. I'm just more concerned about, let's make sure there's enough money in here if we want to go...I want to go build some buildings."
According to Township Manager Anthony Hamaday, the board will have to put money into the budget next year for design costs for the emergency services building.
Commissioners President and 6th Ward Commissioner Michael Molinaro, suggested his hope for a capital reserve budget for the township next year as well.
"I would always recommend having a capital reserve budget, where each year we would contribute a little amount of money into this," said O'Lone.
Another budget workshop session has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 8 a.m. in the municipal building.