The 2015 preliminary budget projects salary increases in the Police, Fire and Transport Workers Union Collective Bargaining Agreements. In addition, the preliminary budget sees increases in workers’ compensation, health care and pensions. Again this year we saw a small decrease in electrical expenses mainly as a result of the installation of LED fixtures and conservation measures. The Township’s essential public safety service accounts for approximately 52% of the proposed budget and 63% of the increase. The Township continues to provide support to its five volunteer fire companies and Sellers Memorial’s three library branches. The police and fire overtime budgets continue to burden the Township expenditures. While much of these overtime expenses are caused by the number of public safety employees status as IOD (injured on duty), the Township is making every attempt to help the employees safely return to work as quickly as possible. Recently you may have read in the local papers that other communities are experiencing considerable overtime expenses in their public safety budget. A fair amount of the overtime in the Upper Darby Township Police Department is driven by the demand on officers’ time to solve high profile crimes. In the Fire Department the IOD, as well as minimum manning for safety, is equally a cost driver. I am proud of the work that our police and fire staff performs every day; I am particularly pleased with the police resolution rate on major crimes and the suppression of the fire threat in Upper Darby Township. The flip side of this success is the expense incurred in expeditiously bringing criminals to justice without financial support from the Pennsylvania State Police which other smaller Municipal Police Departments receive.
I am currently seeking input to request financial support to municipalities in the inner ring suburbs which have a full time police force to be compensated on a census basis. This funding would be equal to the Pennsylvania State Police coverage to municipalities throughout the State.
We continue to see businesses reinvest in our community. The 69th Street business corridor has welcomed three new anchor stores on the street. Burlington Coat Factory, Ross Dress for Less and H & M retail store have located just a few steps away from the busy 69th Street Transportation Center. SEPTA is in the planning stage of improvements to the parking lot adjacent to the terminal and is currently upgrading their facilities at the trolley depot west of the terminal. While the details are still being developed, it is good to see their commitment to the area. The intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Union Avenue saw the opening of a Goodwill Industry Store and Job Training Center, with McDonalds and Advanced Auto preparing to start construction soon. On a side note the Township received the Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County “2013 Community Partner of the Year” award for the economic development and planning work done in cooperation with this Goodwill development. Ross Dress for Less will cut the ribbon on another store in Upper Darby later this month in the Pilgrim Gardens area. The Upper Darby community is pleased to welcome them to the shopping center on Township Line Road. While earmarked for a late 2015 opening, WAWA continues to move forward with their plans to open a super store at the corner of Park Avenue and West Chester Pike.
In keeping with a promise made when I first become Mayor, I continue to hold Town Hall meetings. This fall I have limited these meetings to two. I did this so not to conflict with the work of the Comprehensive Planning Committee. This committee, together with Delta Development Group, recently hosted seven open houses for residents and two meetings for businesses. I thank the residents and business owners that took the time to come out to discuss and share their vision for Upper Darby’s future. The theme of the meetings is “Imagine Upper Darby.” I encourage everyone to visit the web site www.imagineupperdarby.com and take the survey. The Comprehensive Planning Committee over the next year will take information gathered from the residents and business owners and shape this information into a future roadmap for Upper Darby.
I believe good things are happening in Upper Darby and feel this is a great place to live and raise a family. As I travel our community and visit the little league events, football rivalries, basketball games, the ever growing soccer community and, just this past week, the Punjab Sport Club’s 5th annual National Tournament I hear positive comments about the school system and the quality of life in Upper Darby. I am proud to be the first community to officially recognize the United Nations’ Mother Language Day and support the work of the Township’s Multi-cultural Committee.
The proposed budget calls for no cuts in municipal services; be assured that my administration continues to work hard to control expenses. Based on the total Township budget funding requirements, the real estate tax will increase $.99 for every $1,000 of property assessment.
It is my honor to work on behalf of the 83,000 residents of the Upper Darby community and to constantly work for the betterment of all and to remind everyone of the many good attributes our community offers. Upper Darby Township is a safe, vibrant, urban community made up of many different cultures and experiences. Let’s embrace the past and imagine the future.
Thomas N Micozzie
October 1, 2014
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