No new municipal taxes. That’s the promise Horsham officials are making as they put the finishing touches on the projected $13.4 million 2012 township budget.
If the spending plan is adopted as outlined during Monday night’s township council meeting – on the eve of the election - the governing body will keep the current 1 mill tax rate consistent in 2012, meaning the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $178,128 would pay $178.13 in real estate taxes.
Council President Mark McCouch, one of two councilmen up for re-election, pointed out that, in addition to holding the line on taxes, next year’s budget maintains the same level of township services. He told Patch afterward that the governing body’s “spaving” abilities – spending, while carefully saving – enabled them to accomplish this feat amid difficult economic times. McCouch likened the practices to “buying things on sale.”
While the budget numbers are expected to fluctuate until the council adopts the spending plan, tentatively on Dec. 14, township manager Bill Walker said he is projecting a 4 percent increase in the overall budget as compared to 2011.
Revenues from building permits and transfers are also expected to increase from this year, from $375,000 to an anticipated $425,000, he said. Another help for balancing next year’s budget is that the township is not planning to transfer as much money into its approximate $2.5 million capital improvement fund as it had in past years, Walker said and is instead “being very cautious” in “weathering the storm.” That fund, which at one time had between $8 million and $10 million in it, was used to pay for the 2-year-old police station with cash, Walker said.
The 2012 budget is funded, in largest part, through earned income taxes, real estate transfer taxes and local services taxes, which Walker said account for a little more than $8 million of the $13.4 million spending plan. Those numbers, in total, are expected to grow by roughly $500,000 from 2011.
Horsham's 1 mill tax is broken down as follows:
.22 is earmarked for parks and recreation
.31 funds a fire tax
.47 goes to the
In terms of how the 2012 budget will be spent, here are some of the projects planned for next year:
- Paving the Evergreen Terrace development, which includes Hill, Pine, Fair Oaks, Johnson, Morris, Adee and Dora avenues, as well as New Road
- Installing computers in police cars
- Hiring a highway department foreman, a position that has been vacant and unfunded since 1998
- Finishing the ongoing trail project, which is paid for through an 80/20 split with a grant
- Replacing all 42 ADA handicap ramps in the Oak Hill development
- Updating the restrooms in Deep Meadow Park at a cost of $15,000
- Replacing a grass-cutting mower
- Replacing code enforcement’s antiquated system with new software
- Adding directional signs on the PECO Power Line Trail.
Walker described Horsham’s financial situation as “neutral.”
"Things aren’t good. Things aren’t bad,” Walker said. “We’re keeping things as low as we can.”