2021 Taxes Unchanged In Tentative Lower Frederick Budget

SPRING MOUNT PA – Real estate tax rates are expected to remain unchanged in Lower Frederick during 2021, after its Board of Supervisors on Wednesday (Nov. 4, 2020) unanimously approved a tentative general fund budget that avoids higher taxes by covering an anticipated deficit with surplus cash. But that good fortune cannot continue forever, supervisors reminded the public during their meeting.

Perhaps more importantly, they added, next year’s sewer fund budget also separately relies on a cash infusion to cover its own deficit. Should that need continue, its extra money will be depleted within three or fewer years. “That’s just not sustainable,” board Vice Chair Marla Hexter said, and suggested the township may want to examine raising sewer rates in the short-term future.

The general fund budget of $2.198 million is accompanied by a township tax rate of 2.5 mills. On an average Lower Frederick home, the assessed value of which is calculated to be $130,027, Manager Mark Hudson said property owners can expect to pay $306 in taxes to support government operations, plus an additional $35 for fire protection and $26 for ambulance and emergency medical services.

To avoid a tax hike, the tentative budget will draw $283,625 to cover a deficit of the same amount, from its more than $1.6 million in reserves, supervisors were told.

Hudson promptly noted taxes over which Lower Frederick has no control also will be collected by Montgomery County for its operations and for community college support, totaling about $501 for the average home. In a separate bill later during the year, the Perkiomen Valley School District will weigh in with its tax needs; that’s most recently amounted to more than $4,400 for the average home, he added.

General fund expenses next year currently include an over-sized variable: the estimated $150,000 cost of a generator to power the township building and police operations in the event of a electrical outage. The township’s existing generator failed some time ago and cannot be repaired, Hudson explained.

Although he’s planned for it, as supervisors agreed he should, Hudson also expects to conduct more research before making a purchase proposal to the board. He’s working with Police Chief Paul Maxey to determine minimum and maximum power needs, talking with ambulance officials about how their operations might also be affected, and determining state requirements for emergency management coverage. He intends to gather more estimates, too.

“We may not need all of that,” he said hopefully of the set-aside.

The tentative budget will now be advertised and made available for public inspection during a 30-day period. The budget does not become final until a board approval during December. It can still be changed up to that date.

Graphic by The Post