Mayors Budget Message 2013

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UPPER DARBY , PA 19082-3135

Thomas N. Micozzie
Phone: 610-734-7626
Fax: 610-734-7709

Mayor’s Budget Message 2013

This will be the fourth Budget message that I have delivered as Mayor of Upper Darby Township. No doubt this has been the hardest budget to develop.

I believe the Upper Darby community is a great place to live and raise a family. As I travel our community, and visit the little league events, football rivalries, basketball playoff games, soccer games and most recently the Punjab Sports Club 3rd Annual National Tournament, I hear many comments about the quality of life in Upper Darby Township. While a number of these concerns echo frustration with absentee landlords, neighboring skills that are lacking and the failure of some folks to properly maintain their property, I hear few comments that residents do not feel safe.

I believe that Upper Darby Township has extremely strong and professional Police and Fire departments which contribute to the residents’ feelings about their neighborhood. Yes, the world and society face many problems and some of those problems have found a way to visit our community. Most recently at our town hall meetings you may have heard Superintendent Chitwood speaking about a heroin crisis. Also, note the recent article in the newspaper acknowledging that this crisis is county wide. The Delaware County District Attorney, Jack Whelan, has created a task force to address the heroin issue in the county. At a recent town hall meeting it was mentioned that criminals try to avoid Upper Darby Township because of the highest arrest rate and successful prosecution of criminal activity. Just this past Sunday in the Daily Times you may have seen the article about a criminal caught dealing heroin, he told the police officer when arrested that he had several similar arrests in Philadelphia and would most likely be out on the street in less than 12 hours. The District Justice system in Delaware County set the bail for this individual at $250,000 and he is still in jail. That is the message that a strong cooperative effort in law enforcement can deliver to the criminal world. I want to make mention that our policing efforts are supported by three community police sub stations located on 69th Street, Long Lane and the Drexeline Shopping Center.

In keeping with a promise I made when I first became Mayor, I host six town hall meetings each fall in our community. At these meetings I want to hear from the residents about their concerns and relevant issues. I want to share with them some of the success stories and what my administration is doing to improve economic development in the community. This fall at the meetings the residents are hearing about three national store chains that have pulled building permits to locate in the 69th Street shopping district. They heard about the new satellite campus for Delaware County Community College in the Barclay Square Shopping Center. This investment is a complement to the Save-A-Lot food market and Aaron’s rental store that opened in the Barclay Square Shopping Center earlier this year. The Barclay Square Shopping Center will also see a Dollar Store open in the center very soon. Along the Baltimore Pike corridor AAA opened a new auto service and travel center in the former Saturn Car dealership. I understand that shortly we may hear good things about the former Super Fresh supermarket building at Baltimore and Union Avenues.

I am sure by now everyone has seen that Chickie’s and Pete’s Crabhouse and Sports Bar is now located in the Pilgrim Gardens area on Township Line Road. You may not know that Upper Darby Township is home to the main office of the Cocco’s Pizza franchise. Now on Oak Lane and Providence Road Cocco’s Gelateria, a new soft serve gelato and coffee shop, has opened. Down the street SEPTA has invested over $7.1 million dollars in improvements to the Primos train station. Planet Fitness is investing in two locations in our community, one along Baltimore Pike and the other in Drexel Hill. In 2012 we moved the Sellers' library municipal branch to a brand new building at 501 Bywood Avenue. The Leisure Services office will move from their current location in the Drexelbrook Shopping Center to a new location around the Dermond Circle in Drexel Hill. As part of this relocation the Township is making plans to open a Senior Café in the same Pilgrim Gardens location. Please keep an eye out for more details on this opening later this year.

As you can see, good things are happening in our community. However, to maintain a solid viable community the administration must incur expenses. We currently have a police force of 133 officers and a fire staff of 55 full time paid staff supplemented by over 150 volunteers. Several years ago I was able to make the statement that we had 200 fire fighters in the volunteer’s fire staff. Like all volunteer organizations fire departments are experiencing similar issues, a drop in volunteers and a drop in volunteer contributions to their efforts which puts greater demand on our fire staff. The Township Administrative staff has been cut by six full time positions over the last 24 months. We are streamlining government and making every effort to reduce costs. Unfortunately, as the economy struggles, it becomes more difficult to meet our fixed costs.

The 2013 preliminary budget projects increases in four major categories: Police, Fire, Sanitation and Pensions.

The Township essential Police and Fire activities account for almost 95% of the General Fund increases. In this budget the non-bargaining white collar staff will receive a 2.5 % increase with selected senior staff taking a smaller lump sum increase, delayed until July 1, 2013. The non-bargaining white collar staff will continue to contribute 10 % toward the employees health care cost. The Fire Department staff, in accordance with their Collective Bargaining --- Arbitration award, will receive a 3.5 % increase and make a contribution to their health care plan. The Township continues contract talks with the Fraternal Order of Police and Transport Workers Union on salary for 2012 and contract terms beyond December 31, 2012.

The 2013 preliminary budget in the general fund expenses reflects a $4,000,000 contribution to the police pension fund and $700,000 contribution to the fire pension fund.

The budget includes a $20.00 annual increase to the trash fee. The current charge of $145.00, one of the lowest trash fees in Delaware County, has not been increased in several years. The $20.00 increase to $165.00 per residential unit reflects the increased tipping fee assigned to the municipalities by the Delaware County Solid Waste Authority.

The proposed budget continues twice weekly trash pick-up during the summer months and the once weekly pick up for recycled materials. The proposed budget does not call for cuts in funding for municipal services. Based upon the total Township budget funding requirement, the real estate tax increase is $ 1.15 for every $1,000.00 of your property assessment.