BROOMALL–The Marple Township Board of Commissioners passed the 2013 municipal budget that will not raise real estate taxes over the current 2012 rates for the average homeowner at a special budget meeting on Thursday morning.
. Thursday morning's budget meeting started off with a proposed real estate tax increase of 2.7 percent, which was then brought down to a 0 percent after further discussion by the board.
For the average homeowner in Marple–with a home assessed at an approximate median value of $161,000–the millage rate would stay the same as 2012's rate of $4.18 per thousand dollars. Currently, the average homeowner in Marple will pay $673.62 in real estate taxes for this year.
During the meeting, Michael Molinaro, sixth ward commissioner and commissioners president, suggested re-evaluating the street repaving project fund. The proposed budget had earmarked $325,000 towards repaving streets in the township of which $100,000 has been reserved for liquid fuels, leaving $225,000 left for repaving township streets.
According to Township Manager Anthony Hamaday, the $225,000 will cover only approximately a quarter of a mile, or the length from the township building to Radcliffe Road, just past the old ambulance building.
"If we're going to do something, we should do something significant," said Molinaro. "And when we go out to bond, we can get real money, and do a lot of the streets. I did talk to public works and they said they're well manned and they have the equipment to a cut and patch throughout the township, and that it may cost them $25,000-$50,000 to really hit the bad areas. We're saving $225,000 out of the budget. I think that's the big ticket item I've been griping about."
O'Lone said if the $225,000 was taken out of the budget, the proposed tax increase would decrease to a 0 percent tax increase.
John Lucas, commissioners vice president and fourth ward commissioner, joined in on the meeting via teleconference and stated if there was an opportunity in the 2013 budget to bring the tax increase down to 0 percent then, "I say we take the opportunity."
However, Seventh Ward Commissioner Dan Leefson disagreed and shared his concerns about the unknown economy in the future. Leefson stated the $225,000 could be used towards bringing the township closer to $1 million in reserves, which would help cover January and February of next year.
"This is a very, very slight tax increase, whereas next year we don’t know where we’ll be if we can do a paving project. And we may be looking a lot more than a 2.7 percent. I think this is justifiable this year, even based on the current climate," said Leefson. "And I think we need to be careful we don’t sell ourselves short or back ourselves into a hole next year."
With a motion made by Fifth Ward Commissioner John Longacre and seconded by Lucas, the commissioners passed the 2013 budget with a 0 percent increase 6-1 with Leefson holding the lone nay.
In addition, the increase on refuse from $23.45 per ton to the county to dispose of the township's trash will increase to $33 per ton, an approximately 41 percent increase. The commissioners urged residents to take control of this increase by recycling more often. This year, the township implemented once a week recycling, and has encouraged residents to take advantage of the recycling pick up as the costs for trash pickup rise.
In order to offset the increased costs, approved to raise the annual curb pickup fee from $190 to $210 per household and from $295 for rear pickup to $325.
"We make money on recycling. We’re doing the best we can with this but rates are going up," addressed Longacre to the public. "It's really up to you on this one. I put out very little trash. We have to work together to do a better job of recycling and not wasting."
Third Ward Commissioner Robert Fortebuono also shared the same sentiments on having more residents in the township to recycle more.
"The people who should step up to the plate are the ones who are currently not recycling to keep these numbers low," said Fortebuono.
Increased sewer rates were also approved for 2013 from $5.35 per thousand gallons to $5.50 per thousand gallons due to increased costs from sewer treatment, according to Township Manager Anthony Hamaday.