A promise kept: London Grove Board of Supervisors sunset two-year EIT tax increase
By Richard Gaw
Courtesy photo A two-year increase in the Earned Income Tax in the London Grove Township helped fund the repair of several roads and bridges in the township.
Holding firm to its commitment, the London Grove Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance No. 190 at its Dec. 3 meeting, a move that sunsets a two-year increase in the township's earned income tax, or EIT.
The tax, enacted on Nov. 14, 2012 and in effect since Jan. 1, 2013, increased the township's EIT from .50 percent to one percent, on earned income and net profits for township residents for a period of two years. Under the sunset provision stated in the ordinance, the tax will end on Jan. 1, 2015, when the EIT will return to .50 percent
During its enactment, the EIT increase funded badly needed repairs to several roads and bridges within the township, and raised $1.6 million to pay for these projects. The projects accounted for during the tax hike have included – or will include -- improvements to the Tice Road, McCue Road, Ellicott Road and Lloyd Road bridges; the resurfacing of Woodview, Walter, Hilton, Howell Moore and Lambornton roads; and improvements to the Indian Run, East London Grove Road and Chambers Road bridges.
The tax hike affected a little more than half of the township's residents, and increased rates at an average of $372 per household per year, calculated on the average household income in the township, which was provided on the 2010 census. Forty-seven percent of London Grove residents were exempt from paying the tax, given that they work outside the township area, and already pay an EIT applied by other townships.
Supervisor David Connors, who while board chairman helped usher in the tax, called the tax "an important piece of a larger picture.
"Being fiscally responsible can be defined many ways, but it really is a philosophy," Connors said by e-mail. "The way we set our priorities, budget annually, and calculate our long-term capital needs dictates how we spend taxpayer funds and ultimately future tax rates. By implementing the temporary EIT tax, we were able to make our most failed roads and bridges safe for our residents. In addition to making our roads safe, we developed a long-term capital funding plan and equipment replacement plan. We reduced our spending in major areas and directed more funding towards our road maintenance program."
Connors also wrote that because the tax helped pay for long-term vision for the township, tax rates are likely to remain stable in London Grove for the foreseable future.
"Stable tax rates and quality infrastructure attracts new business, creates a better environment for existing businesses, and improves the quality of life for our residents," he wrote. "This fiscal philosophy also provides opportunities to take on other community issues, such as the recent water monitoring devices we approved."
In other township business, the supervisors agreed to reverse an earlier decision – made at its Nov. 3 meeting – that puled the township out its participation in a study that explores the feasibility of forming a regional police department in southern Chester County – one that could potentially provide centralized police service to Kennett Square Borough, and New Garden, Kennett and London Grove townships.
Pickel said that after the decision was made, he contacted New Garden Police Chief Gerald Simpson, who told Pickel that the other participating municipalities would not react negatively if London Grove removed itself from the study. Pickel then sent an e-mail to his fellow supervisors, who agreed that the township should remain a part of the study.
Connors suggested the township should get public opinion about the township becoming a part of a regional police force – particularly in light of the $1.2 million price tag that the township would be required to pay every year to be a part of the regional force.
"We need to find a way to engage residents and get answers as to whether they'd be willing to have their taxes raised," Connors said. "If we can't get it on the ballot [as a referendum] then we can make an effort to meet [residents] outside on election day."
Public Works director Shane Kinsey told the supervisors that design work is continuing on the township's plans to expand its public works facilities, which are designated to be built in the vicinity of the township building on Rose Hill Road. Kinsey said that he has met with property owners who live in the area, one of whom made some suggested alterations to the design.
The board authorized a study – to be engineered by PennDOT – that will explore the weight classifications, overhang or turning restrictions of the various types of trucks that travel on North Guernsey Road in the township. The study would be of no cost to the township.
Inniscrone Golf Course nanager Tom Bolko told the supervisors that the course was $24,000 ahead of last year's total in new memberships, which puts the course 11 percent ahead of its budgeted membership goals heading into 2015.
The State Police Avondale reported that they received 177 calls from the township during the month of November, and 1,948 so far this year.
At its last meeting, the board approved the purchase, operation and maintenance of two water monitoring devices to record water quality levels throughout the township. On Dec. 3, the board gave approval to the township to submit applications to the Dockstader Grant, a foundation that helps fund environmental projects.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.