Supervisors Budget Workshop Minutes-October 7, 2013

Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA
October 7, 2013

The Westfall Township Board of Supervisors convened their first 2013 Budget Workshop on Monday October 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm. The meeting was held at the Westfall Township Municipal Building on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane.

Those present were Chairman Robert Ewbank; Vice-Chairman, Paul Fischer; Supervisor, Robert Melvin; Treasurer, Scott Myer; Secretary, Jodi Hulse and Roadmaster, William Schneider. Also present was John Dalton.

Supervisors Larry Flansburg and Raymond Banach were not present.

Scott Myer distributed the proposed 2014 Budget to the board. He stated to the board that he put together the bullet points of the budget. He said currently we are at 31.2 mills. One mill based on last year generates about $41,300 of income. He said as just a reminder, last year we had to budget in a transfer from reserves of $137,000. That mainly came about because of Dombrosky. We paid him 175,000. For informational purposes so that we are all on the same page, he said we could probably lower Katz from 7.6 mills to 7.4 mills. As far as debt service, there are two loans outstanding. One is the larger one and the other is the Sherwood Loan Truck Payment which will be the same at 3.15 mills. Mr. Myer said that Fire and Capital Roads are whatever the board wants to do with them. They were 1.5 and 2.25 mills. He said again, the Dombrosky payment this year will be $43,400 which is down by about $131,000. He said the Tax Collector’s salary is down. Supervisor Melvin said it is down for whoever gets the position. Mr. Myer said it will be down by $13,000.

Mr. Myer said the way he did the budget, which is a totally working budget, was basically using last year’s numbers and making a few adjustments. Supervisor Melvin said the police budget which will be proposed will be exactly the same as last year.

Chairman Ewbank said Dombrosky is going down $131,000. Mr. Myer agreed. Chairman Ewbank said that three mills is $123,000. He asked if we could go down. Supervisor Melvin said no since we took funds from reserves. Mr. Myer said he did not see any way that would be possible. Supervisor Melvin said we really tapped into our surplus hard for Dombrosky. My Myer agreed. Supervisor Melvin asked Mr. Myer if we are on a “shoe string” budget as far as surplus. Mr. Myer said not where you should lose sleep over but a transfer from reserves cannot be budgeted for at least a year. Supervisor Melvin said his concern is if the Highway Department Equipment needs a $30,000 repair will we be in trouble. Mr. Myer said no. It is not that tight. Supervisor Melvin and Mr. Myer agreed that some kind of emergency fund is needed.

Chairman Ewbank asked where we are at this year budget wise. Mr. Myer said we are where we should be. Income and expenses are both in line with what we thought. Chairman Ewbank asked if we will have any kind of a surplus. Mr. Myer said no. Supervisor Melvin said we had to bring in $137,000 from surplus. Supervisor Melvin said the part that is going to be tricky. In order for us to get the Dombrosky issue off the books we had to tap into our reserves. We are stuck with the mileage. One of the things he was thinking about was with Katz. Maybe we could save two tenths or three tenths. He said every year we pay $300,000 but we might collect $305,000, $306,000 or $307,000. He asked if we could use the extra in other areas. Mr. Myer said the budget is 1.7 million and being materially correct you could be off by $13,000. He does not like the idea of being off on the Katz tax. Supervisor Melvin said he wants to make sure we can fund the police department as it was last year and we need to go over the whole list of things which need to be taken care of with the roads. He wants to see if we can take a small amount from each area to keep the police department and have money set aside for things that Mr. Schneider needs to do to keep things “up to snuff”. Supervisor Melvin asked when will the debt services peel off. Mr. Myer said in nine years. He said it is $35,000 in interest. Chairman Ewbank said by then it will start all over again because we will need to buy a new truck. He said there is a 1.9 million dollar balance to Dime Bank. The Sherwood Truck payment is $9,412. It will be paid in October 2016.

Supervisor Melvin asked how we are doing with permits. Mr. Myer said it is $57,877 year to date. He said we budgeted $51,000 for last year so we made $6,000 more through September than we thought we would for the year. Chairman Ewbank said we have the cigarette store in process and the senior apartments. Discussion followed regarding the projects which are in process.

Supervisor Melvin asked if there was anything in the budget for the Amusement Tax. Mr. Myer said no. He feels we have a double edged sword here. He said it is a dangerous thing to put it in the budget but he gets nervous if we do not put it in the budget. He said if we put up a battle for something and everyone is questioning how much will be raised. Some will say why bother to do it if there is not enough being raised. Chairman Ewbank said it was projected we would take in $1,000 and we have taken in $965. Mr. Myer said we did not have a projection last year. He said he has provided the detailed report so the Supervisors could get a feel for things. The statement has the actual from January through September. The third column is a projection for the whole year. Vice Chairman Fischer said we need to keep in mind there will be an offset for attorney fees down the road. Supervisor Melvin just wants to prevent the public from questioning why we have the tax if there we are not making any money from it. He said we have told the “people” we have done everything we can to offset raising taxes. Chairman Ewbank said it is in litigation so we do not know how much it will be. Supervisor Melvin suggested we have a line item for the Amusement Tax. Discussion followed regarding opinions about the tax and litigation.

Mr. Myer asked Mr. Schneider if there are any grant possibilities he is not aware of at this time. Mr. Schneider said not at this time.

Mr. Myer said we treat the Liquid Fuels money as General Fund money. We pay public works budgeted items from the funds. He said this detailed working budget is from the General Fund and Liquid Fuels added together. Supervisor Melvin asked audit wise if there is another way to do this without causing any “pain”. Mr. Myer said the audit is just more involved since the auditors from Liquid Fuels cannot just go to one or two checks. They have to go through all reimbursements. Mr. Myer said it just creates more work for Jodi, me or the auditor but it does not create any problems. He said there is no harm in it.

Supervisor Melvin asked if there are any changes in FICA. He said there is one change. He had a meeting with Lisa Green and the ACT 47 crew that came in. They required FICA be listed as one budget item so the total for FICA is the same but it is all in one line item.

Discussion was held regarding the code enforcement officer issue for the proposed burning ban and sidewalk patrol. This discussion included input from John Dalton.

Mr. Myer said the mill number that you have to go in front of the judge is 14 mills but he wanted to go on record that is irrelevant in his opinion. He said it is an outdated number and he does not know why it needs to be done. He also said there is no way that Westfall in its current condition can get down to that figure.

Mr. Myer asked how the Supervisors would like to proceed. He asked if they would like to go through every line item. Supervisor Melvin suggested we start with the Highway budget. Mr. Myer said he has taken Mr. Schneider’s figures and plugged them into his budget. Mr. Schneider said he pretty much stayed with last year’s budget. He said there are some maintenance issues which need to be taken care of so he has raised that to $3,500. Cold patch has been raised since there is some work to be done on the back side of Cummins Hill. Supervisor Melvin addressed the road crew salary. He asked if we will give a raise. Mr. Schneider said he reflected a raise on the back page of his budget for Richard Mai and Robert Howard. He did not reflect a percentage since he would leave that up to the Supervisors. Supervisor Melvin asked what they make now. Mr. Schneider said one makes $15.00 per hour and the other makes $15.60 per hour. Supervisor Melvin stated his personal opinion is that we should try to figure out a way to give a 3 percent raise. He said he is including Mr. Schneider. He added the people work hard for the township and for a very long time they have taken freezes. Vice Chairman Fischer said we have always considered 3 percent as the going trend. He said it has been the last two years that things have gotten a little turned around. Mr. Schneider said he does not want to deny a raise but if it comes down to it he would rather see the money go to his workers.

Mr. Schneider addressed the future equipment fund. He provided an article to the Supervisors regarding a tax for road equipment fund in the amount of two mills for purchasing road equipment. Supervisor Melvin asked if we were at a max for taxes. Mr. Myer said we can go up three or four mills. Supervisor Melvin said he does not want to raise taxes. He said in order to come up with those two mills we would have to cut two mills somewhere else in order to not raise taxes.

Supervisor Melvin asked if the insurance costs have gone up. Mr. Myer said they have not increased since last year.

Mr. Schneider said he figured funds into his budget for a new computer, monitor and printer. The woman that does the workman’s comp audit suggested the highway department update their computer equipment since their training is viewed on that computer. Mr. Schneider said he could purchase all three items for roughly $800. Mr. Schneider also has Heater Hill guide rail in his budget to prevent any liability issues that may arise. He figured $5,700. He also said he spoke with Aileen Sullivan regarding the pole issue. He said we can have the poles replaced but the township may be responsible for the cost. Mr. Schneider said just as a point of interest if we require sidewalks to be constructed at some point, if the sidewalk is in the township right of way, it would be the township’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalks. It is important to make sure the sidewalks are not in the township right of way. Additional discussion was held regarding sidewalks.

Mr. Schneider said he is not sure what will be done with Pond Drive. He gave an estimate for stone for roughly eight inches deep and eighteen feet wide for the distance of the road. He said it would cost between $18,000 and $20,000. He said he put $18,000 in the budget for the Heaters Hill Drainage issue. Pioneer is expected to get back to him on that issue. He was asked a while ago to go through and prioritize any issues. One area is on River Road in Mill Rift and the other is at the end by Slate Stone’s gate. There are two culvert pipes by Platnick bridge need to be taken care of.

Supervisor Melvin asked Mr. Myer a few questions regarding the figuring of the amounts on the proposed budget for Highway expenses. Mr. Myer said to keep mills where they are the Liquid Fuels money needs to be figured in. Supervisor Melvin asked if the stipends were reflected in the budget. Mr. Myer responded they were. Supervisor Melvin said quite frankly he wants things done for the roads as do his fellow Supervisors. He said we will figure out how to do things with the roads if we do not have a “brew haha” over the police budget. Mr. Myer said this is a working budget and it does not balance yet since we are making changes. He said there are 2.25 mills which are about $90,000 to $95,000 being budgeted as a special tax for roads. Supervisor Melvin agreed that should stay. Mr. Myer said the actual budget is real big in repairs because of the project on Heaters Hill. The money came from FEMA in 2012 and the work was not done until 2013. Supervisor Melvin confirmed that was from Hurricane Irene. He asked if we received any funds for Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Schneider said no since we did not have road damage. Chairman Ewbank said they received a couple of thousand dollars.

There was further discussion held regarding transfer tax amounts and delinquent taxes. Mr. Myer said Local Service Tax is creeping up a little bit. Supervisor Melvin gave his opinion on Earned Income Tax. Mr. Myer said some people are paying it already but it is leaving the county. If we enacted the tax the money would stay in this county. Supervisor Melvin said if someone wins the Power Ball Lottery at Turkey Hill for two million and we have the EIT we get $200,000. If it were to happen now we receive nothing.

Mr. Myer said he does not know where they want to go from here. He said the fire and roads are variables. Debt service and Katz are a definite. He said the .2 mills saved in Katz he put to general fund. Supervisor Melvin questioned if we made all of our Katz payment this year. Mr. Myer said there is one left on the last day of the year. Supervisor Melvin asked how much money is sitting in that account. He said he is trying to come up with a way to fund the Highway Department, keep the police department where it is, to give Mr. Schneider a raise, and the other three employees a raise. Mr. Myer said there is $130,000 in the account. Mr. Myer said we just made a payment and in March we owe $75,000. Supervisor Melvin asked if we could use the Tax Anticipation Loan for that payment. Mr. Myer said no but we can use debt service money which can be moved back and forth. We normally do that at that time of the year since we are short until taxes come in. Supervisor Melvin said we have about $45,000 we can use. He said we have been taxing the people and we need to get some things done. There was further discussion held regarding the Katz tax and delinquent taxes. Supervisor Melvin suggested we refer to the lawsuit payments as “legal settlements”. Vice Chairman Fischer asked how much will the 3% raise total. Supervisor Melvin said $3,000 which is not a lot. He said it matters to an individual person more than the governing body. Vice Chairman Fischer agreed. He said that contractually the police are getting that also. Supervisor Melvin said he would like to squash that argument and he wants all of the township’s employees to have a 3% raise as well.

Bill Schneider asked the amount of mills for black topping in 2013. Mr. Myer said 2.25 mills. Mr. Schneider said this year the back side of Cummins Hill will need to be paved. There is one part of the road that is in pretty bad shape and to put down black top would cost roughly $58,000. He said the remainder of the road will be tar and chipped. Supervisor Melvin asked if we were caught up and Mr. Schneider said we have black topped all of the roads. Supervisor Melvin said if we can get more in the highway budget we could get more things done other than paving. He wants to make sure every year culverts and guard rail are being taken care of to keep up with maintenance. Mr. Schneider said we just got all of the millings from Pennsylvania Avenue for the stone and sub base for the Heaters Hill project so that is a savings. Supervisor Melvin said our roads are in good shape. Mr. Schneider added we are getting the millings from Milford to use on Firetower Road. Mr. Myer asked how much the paving project cost that was just finished. Supervisor Melvin said it was almost the full amount of the paving budget which was $98,000. Discussion followed regarding the paving budget.

Mr. Myer said that he caught something on the sheets that he presented to the board. He said that for fire and roads there was more money in the bank account in prior years so we budgeted more to spend then we brought in. The amount that is budgeted probably cannot happen again in be expense category. $85,000 under fire tax probably cannot happen at the mill rate that we have. Supervisor Melvin said we either have to raise the mill or cut what we give the Fire Department. Mr. Myer said the income the way we have it generated is $65,000 for the fire department. Chairman Ewbank said were looking at cutting the roads $20,000 and the fire department $20,000. Mr. Myer said we would not be cutting we would be using surplus from prior years. Chairman Ewbank asked if we leave it at 1 1/2 mills they will still get $65,000. Mr. Myer agreed. Supervisor Melvin asked if we could roll the 20,000 extra from the paving fund over. Mr. Myer said yes unless you can find something to spend it on in the next three months. Supervisor Melvin said we could probably spend that money on something on Mr. Schneider’s list of things that need to be done. Supervisor Melvin asked Mr. Schneider if paving the backside of Cummins Hill is in your plan and will cost $68,000 do you think you could get by with tar and chipping for $40,000 and get the Heaters Hill drainage issue and the guard rail done with the $20,000 of rollover. Supervisor Melvin said if this is the case then we can get some of the road issues taking care of. Additional discussion followed regarding the highway budget.

Supervisor Melvin asked if there were any other questions. Mr. Myer said he was going to fine tune the budget with everything that was discussed that evening. Additional discussion was held the cost of our Zoning Officer and budget amount for 2014. Supervisor Melvin asked how much we paid the tax collector last year. Mr. Myer said $67,000.

Vice-Chairman Fischer asked the status of the merge of the fire departments. Supervisor Melvin said we need more info to decide the outcome. Vice-Chairman Fischer said that every year the splits are an argument. Mr. Schneider said the split is 60/40 now and that mill rift does not have a way to raise extra money. They spend only what the budget allows. He said Mill Rift Fire Department used to send out a donation letter but since the fire tax the donations have been a lot less. Discussion followed regarding the fire departments.

ADJOURNMENT: Meeting adjourned at 8:32 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Jodi Hulse