By Richard L. Gaw
In a presentation before Kennett Township's Board of Supervisors and 50 residents on Feb. 19, township manager Lisa Moore revealed that the township's 12-month balance sheet for 2013 has $11.6 million in current assets, nearly $7 million in fixed assets, as well as a $796,240 loan to the township's sewer fund - accounting for $19,144,694 in total assets.
The township's general fund generated $3.1 million in revenues during 2013, 11 percent more than 2012, while its expenses were $3.6 million, 27 percent greater than the year before. Seventy-four percent of the township's major revenue sources in 2013 came from real estate, earned income and enabling taxes – totaling $2.1 million. The revenue was $373,000 lower than the year before, due to the tax rate being lowered by the supervisors.
There were five major categories that accounted for the township's expense ledger in 2013: wages and benefits; fire and emergency services; general government; capital expenditures;and police expenses, which were 134 percent greater than the year before, due to the hiring of a full-time police officer and purchasing a new police vehicle. All other expenses represented 16 percent of all total expenses during 2013.
Township office wages went up 30 percent in 2013, from $357,727 to $466,169, while wages for the township's road crew saw a 26 percent jump, from $250,552 in 2012 to $316,021 in 2013. In addition, Police Chief Albert McCarthy's salary also went up, from $87,550 in 2012 to $122,411 last year, a jump of $34,861.
The revenue from the township's sewer fund stood at $1.1 million in 2013, while expenditures were $1.1 million, which was 18 percent below this year's budget, but 68 percent higher than 2012.
The township's open space fund balance began 2013 with a balance of $2.3 million and ended the year with a balance of $2.8 million. The fund received $707,795 in revenue – $666,823 of it coming from taxes – while its expenditures totaled $169,349, five percent lower than this year's budget and 61 percent less than in 2012.
In other township business, Moore said that she and Felix Cohen, the township zone officer, have met with the owners of Stephens' Garden Creations, Inc. on 257 Kennett Pike in Chadds Ford, which was the victim of a large fire on Nov. 6, 2013, that destroyed the store, fish room and office.
At a meeting a few months ago, the supervisors agreed that if the property owners do not clean up the debris and demolish the buildings, that the township would place a lien on the property, and would receive their investment once the property is sold.
"We don't want to go down that route, but it's become a health, safety and welfare issue to keep those buildings standing,” Moore said.
Bruce Mitchell, the township's fire marshal, has also inspected the property, and said that the garden company's owners had not done a sufficient clean-up of the site.
“The electric he has out there is a fire waiting to happen," Mitchell said. "I think his progress is poor."
The township recently placed a notice on the sites grounds, indicating that Stephens is not allowed to operate as a business. On its website, the company indicated that as of Nov. 24, 2013, it was experiencing permitting issues with Kennett Township and have been forced to suspend customer entrance in its greenhouses. The website further indicates that it is currently running the business from the office on site, and is actively planning to rebuild.
Moore said that the PECO representative for Kennett Township has agreed to attend an upcoming public meeting, to answer township residents' questions about the recent winter storms that affected power in hundreds of area homes. The exact date and time of his appearance will be announced on the township's website.
Moore provided a progress report on Penn's Manor, a development near Old Baltimore Pike that the township took over. She said that installation of the development's street lights have been completed, and that the contractor still has to provide as-builts to the township, flush out the drain system and install additional wiring.
On March 19 at a public meeting, the township's Communications Committee will give a demonstration of the township's revised website.