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Township Proposes $62 ‘Average’ Tax Hike

SANATOGA PA – Taxes paid to Lower Pottsgrove by property owners within the township borders could rise by an average of $62.50 if a 2016 tentative budget, adopted Thursday night (Nov. 19, 2015) by the Board of Commissioners, is approved later next month without modification.

Next year’s proposed general fund budget of $6,283,227, a figure cited by Manager Ed Wagner and confirmed by Finance Director Michele Christman, includes the bulk of township operating expenses. It appears to be about $450,000 higher than the 2015 final budget of $5.75 million adopted by board members last Dec. 18.

The numbers could not be examined, however, because copies of the spending plan were not publicly available at the board’s meeting. The document itself won’t be released until Monday (Nov. 23), Wagner said, when a legal notice about the budget is published.

Board members had no comment on the proposal, which passed unanimously, and until a reporter asked about budget totals and tax rates no township official volunteered that information.

Owners of a home considered “typical” in Lower Pottsgrove – one valued at about $125,000 – under the tentative budget would pay a tax hike of “only 17 cents more per day, only $1.20 more per week,” Wagner claimed.

At a proposed tax rate of 2.708 mills cited by Christman, the tax bill on that house would amount to $338. That sum does not include the cost of Montgomery County taxes, or the significantly higher cost of Pottsgrove School District taxes.

The 2015 township tax bill for that same house, according to earlier board documents, amounted to $276, unchanged from 2014.

Wagner attributed the budget’s significant rise to

  • The cost of purchasing new radio equipment for first responders to work with Montgomery County’s upgraded system;
  • An additional purchase of video cameras mounted within police department patrol vehicles;
  • Increases in property liability insurance premiums attributable, he said, to earlier accidents involving police vehicles; and
  • Other contract-related expenses.

It is unknown if the tentative budget already includes any infusion of cash from the township savings account, its fund balance, to reduce its overall cost to taxpayers, or if commissioners will decide to transfer funds later, if at all.

An accompanying 2016 Sewer Authority budget was adopted by its board at its last meeting, Wagner advised. He reported it would increase by less than 1 percent and did not increase the fee for equivalent dwelling units (EDUs), the base rate paid by developers and others to add a building to the township sewer system.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Nov. 19 meeting):

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