Township adopts preliminary budget for 201511/26/2014 09:44AM ● By Richard Gaw
Photo courtesy of New Garden Township.
By Richard L. Gaw
After an hour of reviewing several proposed alterations and a request from a local fire company for additional funding, the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors gave approval to its preliminary budget for 2015, at its Nov. 24 meeting.
As a follow-up to the board's initial discussion about next year's budget held on Oct. 27, interim township manager Spence Andress recommended a few tweaks to an otherwise firm set of numbers. Under the township's Capital Fund, the board agreed to eliminate a planned re-configuration of the troublesome intersection of Sheehan Road, Sharp Road and Route 41 in the township, which had been budgeted at $320,000 and was expected to be completed in 2015. Rather, the board agreed to the suggestion that the township's road crew apply a tar and chip surface to the area, at a cost of 35,000, sometime next year.
Andress said that a major factor in eliminating the project from the budget was due to the proposed – and currently stalled -- development of the area by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), whose plans to create White Clay Point – a mixed-use, village-style town center – may involve the re-design of the intersection.
"Spending that kind of money on something that might be re-designed, it's our collective decision to take a more conservative approach," Andress told supervisors.
By deciding to wipe the proposed improvement of the intersection from its list of capital projects, the township slashed its capital plan budget from a little more than $500,000 in 2015 to $228,000.
The board also agreed to approve the next three phases of improvements to the New Garden Flying Field over the next two to four years, which will entail site preparation, the addition of new pavement and advanced lighting, tree trimming, runway widening and the addition of a retaining wall on the western side of the air field. Although the combined cost of these phases is estimated at about $5 million, the air field is anticipating that it will receive federal and state grants that will total $4.8 million and $980,000, respectively, that will pay for these improvements.
The board also agreed to increase its earned income tax by $75,000 in 2015, which will increase the income derived from the tax from $2,100,000 in 2014 to $2,175,000 in 2015.
The only roadblock to a clean approval of the proposed changes to the preliminary budget was in the form of a request by the Avondale Fire Company for an additional $35,000 in financial support from the township for 2015. John Morris, president of the fire company, led off the meeting by saying that the reason for the request for additional funding is due to the company hiring one full-time firefighter and EMT, and that its workmen's compensation insurance has increased by 17 percent.
The township had proposed a $145,000 contribution to the fire company for 2015.
Morris said that he has already received a firm commitment from London Grove Township to increase its yearly contribution to the fire company. He said that he plans to appeal to the Avondale Borough for additional funding.
Morris supported his request by saying that between 70 and 80 percent of the calls the fire company receives come from New Garden Township, and that the company covers 100 percent of the township.
Although the preliminary budget later reached approval, it was under the stipulation that the board will meet with representatives from the Avondale Fire Company to fine tune the fire company's request for additional funding. Supervisors Randy Geouque and Richard Ayotte were named as board representatives in these negotiations.
The final budget is expected to be agreed upon at the next board meeting on Dec. 15.
In other township news, the board voted to authorize a formal protest in opposition to an application filed by Artesian Water Resources on Nov. 3with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) for approval to begin water service to several properties owned by the Wilkinson family in the vicinity of Buttonwood, Broad Run and Newark roads in Landenberg, including nine properties filed by local developer Charles Wilkinson. Township solicitor Vincent Pompo said the reason for the protest were due to the strict deadline of Dec. 1 of public comment on the application given by the PUC.
"The reasons at this time for filing this petition are because of the heightened interests the township has had in the development of the Broad Run Well, and the desire for the township to create a placeholder by filing a protest of the deadline date, so that the township does not lose any rights to challenge or oppose this application," Pompo said.
Tony Scheivert, currently assistant township manager for the Caln Township, has been named as the new township manager for New Garden. His official appointment will be made at the next board of supervisors' meeting on Dec. 15.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].