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Marple Passes 2013 Budget With 0% Tax Levy

Marple Township Board of Commissioners approved a zero percent increase in real estate taxes for residents next year.

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.

JC December 21, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Too bad Marple Newtown Commissioners did not follow suit. We are looking forward to a 4.5% increase in Newtown Square.... still wondering for what.
Laurie December 21, 2012 at 01:34 PM
If Marple Township can pass their budget without an increase in real estate tax, how come Newtown Township can't do the same? The proposed 4.5% tax increase is going to hurt me financially as I'm sure it will for other people who are on a fixed income. The people need to control the government, not the government controlling people!
JT December 21, 2012 at 03:02 PM
All they have to do in Newtown is eliminate the free health care for the supervisors.
Pat December 21, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I have a hard time with this. Nobody like taxes, me included. At the same time, we are in an unknown economy right now. What if we, as a township, incur a large unexpected cost next year, mid-year. And we can't cover it? Is it really a bad thing to have a little bit of money in reserve? The American way seems to be spend - spend - spend. It seems nobody saves anymore! How much money does everyone have in their saving account for a rainy day? Yes - we've had a lot of rainy days lately. I just hope the money that COULD be saved isn't being spent on Starbucks, etc. IF the township went ahead with the intial 7.2% increase, using the median assessed value of $161,000 means the average home owner would be paying an increased $48/year in taxes. That's $4/mo! For a little cushion in the township budget! Yes, times are tough, but $4? I'm sure MANY people can find $4 in their own budget that is being wasted in a month. Many, not all. I think we're looking too short-term here.
Pat December 21, 2012 at 03:10 PM
JT - I no longer live in Network, but I'm with you. That is a disgrace. If you're running for a political office, you can't make the argument that you should be reimbursed somehow. You know what you're in for when you run. The amount of money they're spending sounds like it must be the Bentley of health care plans for those guys. I can't believe more people are not up in arms over there.
Joe Rufo December 21, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Pat, the township has close to $1 million in the fund balance. I saw no reason to hit the property owner with any more unnecessary taxes, when we clearly have enough to not only operate, but handle any unexpected costs that could pop up. We need to be responsible with "other peoples money", whereas $48 may not be much to you, it certainly is to some folks. Thanks.. Joe Rufo (1st ward commissioner)
L. Ferguson December 22, 2012 at 02:26 PM
NEWTOWN TWP. DOES NOT CONTROL THEIR SPENDING. NO COMPANY OFFERS " FREE " MEDICAL INSURANCE. MAJORITY OF EMPLOYEES PAY PART OF THEIR PREMIUMS. I AM ALSO WONDERING IF THE RECENT OPEN JOB POSITIONS ARE ALL REALLY NECESSARY!
JT December 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Just eliminate the supervisors free health care would deduce the increase by 50%. There is 100 % free Heath Care in Marple so a small co pay could have yielded a tax reduction. Also the trash tax went up $30 and there is an increase in the sewer rate in Marple
Dawn December 23, 2012 at 03:25 AM
I recycle almost excessively but see many of my neighbors don't recycle at all. Is there an incentive program you could consider implementing? In Thornbury Township in Delaware County, they have a scanning system that eventually issues its residents a reward in lieu of gift cards to Wawa, Starbucks, etc. It's based on weight. Perhaps, something like that would be step toward more participation. I know that the cost of transport to the county refuse has risen significantly over the last 5 years and more recycling could reduce that tonnage.

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