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Richland holds off projected real estate tax hike


Citing Richland Township’s 2019 financial performance as “strong compared to projected” for 2019, its supervisors have approved a 2020 budget, for advertising, that delays a 3-mill tax increase for a projected “one to two years.”

The action was taken at the Nov. 11 public board of supervisors meeting, with the full budget presentation noted as available on the township website, via the BoardDocs tab, and then the Nov. 11 meeting tab. Final approval for the budget is to be on the agenda for the Dec. 9 board of supervisors meeting.

The 3-mill tax increase that was expected to be needed starting in 2020, “to keep the police budget positive,” had been noted as avoidable through “the equivalent of 3 mills in new revenue or the equivalent reduction in expenses starting in 2020.”

In his monthly report at the Nov. 11 meeting, Police Chief Rich Ficco, in his latest cost control initiative, noted approval of a memorandum of understanding with the township police association that allows for the removal of significant capital expenses for 2022 and 2023. Details on his report are also available through the meeting agenda via BoardDocs.

The budget summary notes “a significant net positive performance compared to” the 2019 projection as “driven partially by more than a 4 percent increase in revenue from the earned income tax (E.I.T.), but driven mostly by one-time revenues (real estate transfer taxes, permit fees, developer donations, and grants) which may not materialize in 2020 and following years.”

The summary also notes that “no change in personnel is projected for 2020,” but, “as the township acquires more open space, and responsibility for trail maintenance … we may need to consider a new hire for road crew in the next two years.”

Also at the Nov. 11 meeting, supervisors finalized the purchase of an agricultural conservation easement for 50 acres of the 56-acre Clymer property on Axe Handle Road, and resolved to add the adjoining Shelmire property to the township’s Agricultural Security Area, a step that is often a precursor to preserving open space.

The proposed budget for 2020 calls for keeping the “(real estate) tax rate unchanged at 11.30 mills, with 10.55 mills going to the police fund, and the remaining 0.75 mills going to the fire fund, for contributions to the fire companies serving the township.” It also calls for “consideration of 3 mills of revenue increases or expenditure decreases starting in 2021.”