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Property Taxes Unchanged; Fire Tax, Sewer Rates Rising

Property Taxes Unchanged; Fire Tax, Sewer Rates RisingSANATOGA PA – Real estate tax rates in Lower Pottsgrove would remain unchanged next year under a $5.62 million 2014 tentative budget that has won approval from the township Board of Commissioners. To balance the spending plan while keeping taxes stable, the township will add $448,000 from its savings, or unreserved account.

However, the township’s annual tax to support its two fire companies, Sanatoga and Ringing Hill, would rise from .58 to .66 mills, representing a total increase of about $10 on a home in the township assessed at $125,000, incoming Manager Ed Wagner said.

Additionally, the township’s quarterly sewer rate would rise by $6, or a total of $24 annually per unit. Most home owners are charged for only one unit; larger properties may be charged for several. The increase hikes the total quarterly charge to $136 per unit or $544 a year, Wagner added. Most of the new money will be needed to pay for the township’s portion of equipment upgrades to the Pottstown water treatment plant, according to Wagner.

  • Copies of the budget are now available for public review at the municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd., during regular business hours Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. It also can be downloaded from The Post’s Resources Page, here. Final budget approval is anticipated next Thursday (Dec. 19) at 7 p.m. during the board’s final meeting of 2013.

Despite the need for the savings infusion – representing the sixth consecutive year in which commissioners would make an unreserved fund transfer – the budget seems to reflect an improving revenue picture for Lower Pottsgrove.

It forecasts a $120,000 increase in earned income taxes over last year, indicating commissioners believe more residents have found jobs in an improving economy. It also foresees a $45,000 increase in real estate transfer taxes, reflecting a rise in the sale of homes and other properties. It predicts that fees for township services will rise modestly by $9,000, but that its miscellaneous income could jump by more than $14,000.

Provision of police services remain the township’s greatest expense. The police department’s $2.48 million budget accounts for 44 percent of all township spending, and will rise about $108,000 over last year’s budgeted $2.38 million. The increase includes officers’ contractual salary increases of 3 percent, and the additional cost of two corporals’ promotions anticipated at mid-year 2014. The department also intends to replace two vehicles.

The second-largest expense, waste disposal, will rise only $2,500 next year, to $710,500. Fire and emergency support, third highest on the expense list, amounts to almost $505,000. It represents a 2-percent increase covered entirely by collected fire taxes, Wagner noted.

The recreation budget takes one of the most dramatic hikes during 2014, by about $54,000, to $179,033. Of that, $60,000 has been allocated for the purchase of a new tractor to maintain parks and for other uses.

Also within recreation, the township increased its annual contribution to the Pottstown Regional Public Library by $5,000 to a total of $65,000, to maintain “our fair share” of library support compared to surrounding townships, Commissioner James Kaiser said earlier this month. Contributions to the Pottstown Senior Citizens Center, Historical Society and Pottsgrove Recreation Board were unchanged.

The township also maintained its unchanged contribution to the Visiting Nurse Association f Pottstown and Vicinity under the budget’s health and welfare lines.

Lower Pottsgrove’s general administration account will rise by about $21,000 to $623,111. It includes a $10,025 increase for the assistant manager position, $20,000 in interior and exterior improvements to the municipal building, and $27,500 for the purchase of new signage that is expected to be offset by $25,000 in grant money.

Related to the Lower Pottsgrove 2014 budget:

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Nov. 21 meeting):

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