Tonight, I submit to Township Council the 2019 budget. While the full budget will be laid out in detail at the Township's council's meeting next Wednesday, October 101h, tonight I want to provide a general overview and some additional specifics regarding my proposed budget.
I am proud to submit to you tonight a budget proposal with a zero tax increase. Given the significant cost drivers we face, this was not an easy task. But I worked closely with township administrators and department leadership to monitor township expenses and identify opportunities to tighten our belt so that we do not have to raise township property taxes on seniors, working families, and other homeowners, as well as our small businesses.
I am proud to say that this is now the second time as Mayor that I have been able to deliver a budget with no tax increase.
To achieve our goal of no tax increase, we looked at ways to curtail spending, as well as opportunities to increase revenues through innovative options and programs. Some of those are programs we have already implemented, while others are programs that we are projecting to implement in the coming year. This includes hiring a collection firm to improve the township's account receivables for trash and sewer fees. This program will allow us to aggressively seek and capture revenues from outstanding accounts without any administrative costs incurred by the township. An added benefit is that it will enable us to keep our trash and recycling fees at the same level as last year.
Our budget is also reaping the benefits of our forward-thinking program to replace 4,800 street lights with more energy efficient lighting. That effort is now providing us with savings of$ 200,000.00 in electric charges each year.
I am also requesting that township council implement rental fees for township owned buildings and facilities, as well as negotiated franchise fees for the use of the township's right of ways by cable operators.
The new start-up and permit fees have assisted our budget by increasing revenues. Unfortunately, we had hoped that the township Fund Balance would have seen the benefit of start-up and permit fees associated with the redevelopment of the Drexeline Shopping Center. Unfortunately, we have not received those funds due to a legal appeal related to the Drexeline redevelopment.
We have also worked to reduce expenses in our Police and Fire budgets by buying future time in cash, as opposed to comp time. This will help us to reduce overtime costs, future liability, and pension projections that are now mandated at approximately $8,000,000 million, annually.
I do want to highlight one additional new expense that is included in my budget proposal. At the request of the Upper Darby School District, this budget includes a $50,000 rental payment - to theSchool District - for the use of high school classrooms as part of the 2019 Summer Stage Program.
While I am Mayor, I am also a homeowner. I too feel the pressure that real estate tax increases have had on residents, as well as home values. My goal has to been to help protect property values by ensuring we continue to place an emphasis on quality of life issues. That includes allocating the funds and resources we need for a safe community and providing residents with quality parks and recreational opportunities. I also believe strongly that we need to continue to be vigilant and fund property maintenance enforcement efforts. I believe this budget accomplishes those goals while keeping our costs in line.
I strongly believe that now is not the right time to increase township property taxes, particularly after the school district announced a 2.5 percent school tax increase. That school property tax increase is already going to require seniors and other homeowners to tighten their household budget, or worse, considering whether they need to sell their homes. While I cannot control what the school board does, I do have control over our township budget.
As I mentioned previously, this budget will be laid out in more detail a week from today, at council's committee meeting on Wednesday, October 10th. I also what to mention that shortly the administration will request Council to officially move the Park Division to the Public Works Department. This budget has been reported out as in past years with the parks division in the Leisure Service Department. The shift in the budget line items from Leisure Service to Public Works will be made after the 2019 budget has been voted on. We kept Parks in the Leisure Service Department only for comparison purpose.
Is this budget tight? Absolutely. Is it realistic and fiscally sound? Yes.
Mayor Thomas Micozzie
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