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Richland budgets show support for pollution control

Police co-responder program under supervisors’ consideration

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Richland Township’s no-tax increase budgets for 2023 include significant support for pollution control projects, and also for fire service, that derive from its $1.4 million share of the American Recue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. Township supervisors voted to advertise the budgets at their Nov. 14 public meeting, with approval expected to be on the agenda for their Dec. 12 meeting.

In her budget presentation, Township Manager Leslie Huhn reported a $4.6 million General Fund, which is to be supported by “approximately $450,000” from ARPA for 2023 pollution control projects in the Tohickon Creek and Unami Creek watersheds. At their public supervisors meeting last May, township officials announced that they would be using $405,000 from ARPA for those projects.

Both projects are part of the township’s Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System (MS4) Plan, and are designed to reduce sediment loads in waters of the creeks as they pass through the township, and before they eventually reach the Delaware River.

Huhn noted further that the $3.5 million Police Fund “is largely funded by our real estate tax income. We also dedicate our cable franchise fees to cover expenses.” She added that for the $292,000 Fire Fund, “we are recommending that $157,339 be allocated to the Fire Fund from the ARPA funds.”

Among other General Fund items, she noted “approximately $765,000 for road work, offset with the 2023 Liquid Fuel allocation and the remainder of our 2022 allocation,” and “$325,000 for repairs to aging culverts, with the highest priority being given to Schukraft Road.”

Also at the Nov. 14 meeting, Police Chief Rich Ficco reported a 157-pound yield from the Oct. 29 Drug Takeback event, which is designed to help keep unused prescription drugs away from anyone for whom they were not prescribed. He noted another 187 pounds was collected during the last six months via the drop box that is available during normal business hours at the police Station on California Road, and that he would like to see increased use of that option, perhaps to the point where the bi-annual special events might be discontinued.

Ficco also noted consideration of a novel “co-responder” program, already in use in Lower Bucks County, for use in Upper Bucks municipalities. Funded by the county for the first two years, it calls for social work professionals to accompany police officers on calls that feature mental health and related issues. After two years, the municipalities would pick up the costs, as needed.

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