Penn Township adopts a budget without a tax increase—for the 22nd year in a row
● By Steven Hoffman
The Penn Township Board of Supervisors approved a budget for 2020 at its meeting on Dec. 4, and once again there won’t be a tax increase.
This is the 22nd year in a row that there won’t be a tax increase in Penn Township—a fact that was highlighted proudly by Curtis Mason, the chair of the Board of Supervisors, in his “State of the Township” presentation.
A statement in the report read, “I am pleased we, as a board, have made solid decisions for our citizens to keep our taxes low and to attract smart, sustainable development to create a solid future for Penn Township, and to support our school district and county as well.”
In addition no tax increase, the list of the township’s accomplishments for 2019 is topped by the finalization of updated zoning ordinances, major road and stormwater infrastructure repairs, continued progress on the Red Rose Inn, improvements to the intersection of Baltimore Pike and Route 796, and continued support of AGREM’s radio station to keep residents informed in case of emergencies.
The township has also installed the first trail and a handicapped parking lot at the Penn Township Sports Park. That park was a topic of discussion at the meeting to provide the community with information on the plan.
The new park is designed as an active sports park to complement the existing passive recreation park that is adjacent the township building. The plans call for facilities that local sports teams will be able to use.
“This plan is based primarily on youth sports,” engineer Denis O’Neill said. “We’re finding soccer and lacrosse have the most need. Little League is actually dropping off. They’re playing more travel ball.”
The latest plan for the 43-acre parcel contains three baseball/softball fields and two multi-purpose fields. This section would be fenced off, and surrounded by a multi-purpose trail. There would also be a hard surface area for pickle ball and basketball courts, as well as a tot-lot playground, gazebos and a maintenance building.
An earlier idea to connect an entrance to Ewing Road has been dropped, leaving Route 796 as the access for parking. It is possible that an entrance may be integrated into the design of a roundabout that could be a part of on/off ramp reconstruction at the Route 796 intersection with the Route 1 bypass.
The total cost of the project could run between $5 million and $6 million. The township would like to cover most of that cost with grant money, so the plan will be broken into several smaller phases to allow for more funding opportunities,
There will be a cost associated with maintaining the playing fields, and the township plans to turn that responsibility over to a company or organization that would manage the fields. At this point, it is unknown if the township will contract with an outside firm for these services or develop an agreement with a local non-profit such as Friends of Penn Township or a group of sports leagues.
The first walking trail is now open and available for use.
Near the close of the meeting, the township presented a gift to outgoing supervisor Jay Ennis, who did not run for reelection.
The board will hold their annual reorganization meeting on Monday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m.