Township ends 2010 in strong fiscal shape, administration praised for ‘careful’ management
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
EAST MARLBOROUGH — In a season of financial doom and gloom, most township residents got good news this week: no local tax increase.
In fact, as township supervisors revealed at Monday night’s meeting, unless you live near a new fire hydrant or in the Unionville village area covered by the township’s light tax, your 2011 township tax bill will look eerily like your bill from 2010 — that is until you notice the 3.9% hike from the county and the 2.9% bump in school taxes.
If you are currently covered by the township light tax, you’ll be paying an extra .10 per linear foot of frontage, up to .50 from .40 — a hike brought on by an expected boost in rates by PECO in 2011. In fact, the boost won’t entirely cover the rate increase, but Township Manager Jane Laslo said the lighting benefits more than just the immediate neighborhood, so it is proper for the township to cover some of the additional cost from general funds.
The only other change is that a handful of residents will be paying the township $26.73 annual for their local fire hydrant. Most of the 715 properties covered under that fee have already been playing a similar fee to their local home owners association and now will just be paying the township instead.
What may be better news: the township is finishing up 2010 in better financial shape than expected, carrying some reserve funds into next year — some of those funds came from unexpectedly high transfer taxes, while some of the extra funds came because the township was very careful in managing spending during the year.
Although Laslo chose not to make a big deal of the state of the township, saying little more than “our year worked out well for us,” members of the Board of Supervisors were quick to point out the relative health of the township as compared with other local towns and public bodies.
“You know, that’s not something that happens by accident,” Supervisors chair Cuyler Walker said. “I think we all appreciate the efforts made (by the administration) to be vigilant on monitoring expenses.”
The fiscal results might be seen as something of a vindication for the township administration’s fiscal management, which has come under heavy criticism this year both in print and as part of a neighboring township’s ballot referendum. Those opposing an expansion of Kennett Township’s Board of Supervisors from three to five cited tax increases in East Marlborough and its five-member board of supervisors as a reason to reject the referendum. Interestingly, Kennett is seeing its 2011 spending plan increase by nearly $500,000 — although no property tax hikes are expected.
After the budget was formally adopted, Laslo asked the supervisors to authorize spending to replace a pair of office computers — one nine years old, the other more than seven at a cost of about $5,000. She said one of the PCs has crashed entirely and the other was “limping.”
Walker again praised Lalso for bringing such expenses before the board before spending funds.
“I have to condone the practice to bring all capital expenses and new hires to the board,” Walker said. He said, by doing that, it allows the board to keep close tabs on spending.
The lone other fiscal issue was a request by supervisors Robert Weer to have the $18,000 pledged to Po-Mar-Lin — the funds being given to the fire company by the township to make up for lost revenue from a proposed cell phone tower that met public opposition — in January, as the fire company needs the funds.