Abington Budget Process Moves Forward
... with a proposed increase in the fire tax
That’s how many of the Abington Township Commissioners felt about how the 2013 budget deficit will likely be covered.
Last night, at a budget workshop, the consensus of the Abington Board of Commissioners was to move forward with the budget process and advertise a final budget hearing that will include a 0.05 millage increase in the fire tax and the use of $315,000 of fund balance to cover capital projects … and a $484,000 budget gap.
There is about $5.1 million in the unallocated fund balance.
The proposed tax increase would bump the fire tax from 0.589 mills to 0.639 mills — and would generate about $171,300, though the money could only be used for fire-related expenses.
The millage increase means a homeowner with a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $96 annually in fire tax, up about $8 over last year; a homeowner with a house assessed at $200,000 would pay $128, up $10 over the 2012 rate.
“We started this [budget] process over $2 million in the hole,” Abington Township Manager Michael LeFevre said after the workshop. “But we managed to whittle it down to about $485,000.”
LeFevre said there wasn’t one budget item that particularly added to the deficit, but said the police department, with its salaries and benefits, amounts to about 45 percent of the general fund’s $34.32 million budget.
Commissioners James Ring, Peggy Myers, Matthew Willis, John Spiegelman, Wayne Luker and Stephen Kalinoski all used the word “comfortable” in describing the millage increase. Commissioner Steven Kline said he was “uncomfortable” that a $350,000 road overlay project will be coming out of the fund balance rather than the operating budget.
Commissioners Thomas Bowman and Robert Wachter said they were not in favor of the increase.
Rates for refuse and sewer use remain the same as last year.
The final budget public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. at the township building.