Tax increase proposed
After several public workshop sessions and discussions among staff and commissioners, South Whitehall Director of Finance Brooke Neve reports a 0.35-mill real estate tax increase is proposed for 2019.
The new rate of 2.84975 mills is expected to produce an additional $531,603 revenue in the new year.
An owner of a property at the township average of $308,355 would pay a $108 increase over the 2018 rate.
Total budgeted revenue for the general fund is $16,302,301. The projected operating expense is $16,289,748 with $12,553 left over.
Major expenses in the general fund include salaries and benefits, utilities, legal and engineering fees, and pension costs.
Neve reports the operating costs are $1,605,160 more than was budgeted in 2018.
She said the township will probably continue to see significant increases in health insurance and pension costs for employees.
Neve noted the 2019 allotment for the police department also includes a sizeable increase to add two new officers and an additional K-9.
She reported the budget includes a $343,575 cash outlay for debt service on a 2014 general obligation note for capital projects.
Neve explained transfers from the general fund include $1,975,000 to the capital fund for expenditures; $80,000 to the EMS fund toward equipment replacements for ambulances and radios; and transfer of $50,000 to the fiscal stability fund.
Neve pointed out a $753,311 increase over 2018 to the capital fund for road paving, a major factor in the need for a tax increase.
The unappropriated reserve in the general fund for 2019 is planned at $490,267, up from $400,000 in 2018.
Moving on to the capital fund, Neve listed $3,923,076 in projected expenditures for 2019.
“When excluding grant funded projects, this is $1,459,269 more than 2018 due to a concerted effort to improve South Whitehall Township roads,” Neve said. “The tax increase will make the roads better for township residents.”
Commissioners were expected to vote on the budget at the Dec. 19 meeting.