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No municipal tax increase for Lower Makefield in 2023


Lower Makefield Township property owners won’t have to shell out more for municipal real estate taxes next year.

The township board of supervisors at its Dec. 7 meeting approved a $32.5 million final budget for 2023 with no property tax increase. It leaves total millage at 20.51, or $894 in annual taxes for a resident with a property assessed at the township average of $43,600.

The budget was approved by a 3-2 vote, with board Chairman James McCartney and fellow members Fredric Weiss and Suzanne Blundi voting yes, and Daniel Grenier and John Lewis casting no votes.

The two dissenters did not comment on their votes at the Dec. 7 meeting, but at the Nov. 16 meeting when the preliminary budget was approved for advertisement, Grenier and Lewis said they favored the inclusion of money in the budget for a finance director or assistant township manager, or some hybrid position of both, to possibly be hired at the discretion of the new township manager when one is found.

Lower Makefield has been without a permanent manager since Kurt Ferguson resigned in early July to take the same job in Upper Dublin Township. Under an agreement to work part time on a consulting basis, he played a large part in putting the 2023 Lower Makefield budget together with help from Police Chief-Interim Manager Ken Coluzzi and others.

Grenier said the proposed new full-time position would allow the manager to not spend so much time on financial matters and would help improve responsiveness to resident questions and complaints. However, the other three supervisors said the job, if the new manager wanted it, could be funded with available money from one of several different sources without the need to include it in the 2023 budget. Blundi added the board should wait and see how much the planned conversion of an employee in the finance office from part time to full time in 2023 helps matters.

Lewis voted in favor of advertising the preliminary budget but against the final budget, which projects a $3 million fund balance (surplus) by the end of next year.

In other news from the Dec. 7 meeting, the supervisors voted 3-2 to approve an agreement not to exceed $5,240 with Natural Lands for an assessment of the Snipes Tract near Dolington Road and Interstate 295. The move is one of the early steps toward possible development of the 30-plus acre tract as a township recreation site.

Grenier and Lewis were the no votes, with Grenier saying that the work to be done by Media-based Natural Lands is not nearly comprehensive enough.

“There’s no value added,” he said. “It won’t give us any real useful information.”

Grenier suggested a better move would be to have members of the firm of township Engineer Andy Pockl, Remington & Vernick Engineers, do a more thorough environmental assessment of the land. Township Parks and Recreation Director Monica Tierney said an environmental impact study would be part of the development process and that the Natural Lands assessment is an extra step on top of the EIS.

In its proposal letter to the township, Natural Lands states that it will, among other things, “assess and document the current conditions of the property, identifying key areas for conservation and options for developable areas.” Tierney said she expects the assessment to be done by sometime in May.

In another move, the supervisors unanimously approved a “Pathway to Zero Waste” plan recommended by the Parks and Recreation Board and the Environmental Advisory Council. The plan will involve reducing the combined total of trash containers and recycle bins at township parks from 111 to 36. It asks visitors to follow a “carry in, carry out” policy where instead of disposing of trash and recyclables at parks, they take it home to dispose of.

Tierney said her research shows that the plan leads to less work for maintenance employees and less trouble from garbage scavenging animals, among other advantages, and does not precipitate an increase in littering.

“The parks where I’ve been that utilize this look beautiful,” Tierney said in a comment made outside the meeting.

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