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Quarry dispute behind East Rockhill budget hike


Municipal property taxes in East Rockhill are rising by two mills this year as a result of legal and zoning battles with Rockhill Quarry, but there will be no increase to the sewer rate or street light assessment, township officials said.

The board of supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the millage increase and 2019 township budget at a recent public meeting.

To help support the budget, which has total income and expenses of $3,896,221, supervisors approved a millage rate of 12.235. That’s up from 10.235. This is the first time supervisors have increased the township real estate millage since 2015, officials said.

Under the 2019 millage, an East Rockhill property assessed at the township average of $40,000 will pay about $80 more in municipal real estate taxes this year.

A mill is equal to $1 of every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. To calculate the municipal tax on an East Rockhill property, multiply the assessed value of the property by 12.235 and then divide by 1,000.

For instance: An East Rockhill property assessed at $40,000 will owe $489.40 in annual municipal property taxes this year.

The township also collects an earned income tax of 0.75 percent; of that, 0.25 percent goes specifically to fund open space preservation.

Township Manager Marianne Morano said East Rockhill has budgeted $171,600 in 2019 to cover potential costs associated with the Rockhill Quarry dispute.

Richard E. Pierson Materials Corp. has been working the quarry in support of its $224 million contract to provide asphalt for about 7 miles of the Northeast Extension. East Rockhill residents are concerned about the quarry’s potential to cause air pollution, water pollution, intrusive noise, dangerous truck traffic, diminished property values and more.

Naturally occurring asbestos from rock formations is also a worry. In early December, activities at the quarry in East Rockhill were halted after operators notified the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Dec. 5 that it found asbestos while working in new areas.

For months, the township and Pierson have locked horns at zoning hearing board meetings focused on the quarry. The sides have also been pitted against each other with claims in federal district court in Philadelphia. They are scheduled for a meeting in federal court on Jan. 28 and 29, Morano said.

Regarding 2019, supervisors said in a statement that they are focused on providing the same level of services that residents have come to expect. That includes making road improvements, such as completing paving on West Rock Road and undertaking nova chip application on Hillendale Road and Creekview Drive.

This year, municipal officials also plan to update the township’s 2005 Comprehensive Plan, replace a pedestrian bridge that’s adjacent to Mood’s Covered Bridge, and more.

“The Municipal Complex renovations are continuing with an addition and renovation to the municipal office and possible public works complex updates,” the township said in a statement. “The last improvement to the municipal office was in 1992 by adding the front entry.”

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