The Forks Township Board of Supervisors Thursday night moved one step closer to adopting a final 2014 budget by approving a preliminary draft that will now be made available for public inspection for the next 20 days before its finalization on December 19th.
The tentative $8.9 million budget calls for a residential property tax increase of 3/4 mills or 13 percent in 2014---the first increase to taxpayers since 2009 , said Township Finance Manager Jim Farley. He mentioned prior to 2009, the yearly Forks property tax increase was two percent.
The tax hike means for a home with an assessed value of $100,000 the increase would be approximately $75.
The budget also calls for two police officer positions not to be refilled due to retirements, in addition to the same fate for an unspecified public works position.
The supervisors justify the tax hike in order to recoup for falling behind in capital expenses and improvements.
Farley said he would like to reach the seven-year projected goal of having the capital budget at $900,000 in order to pay for new vehicles, fire equipment, and road improvements.
Township Secretary/Treasurer Robert Egolf said of the tax increase, "This is the time to do it, not having a tax increase is postponing the inevitable."
Supervisor Vice Chairman John O'Neil remarked, "I'm voting here to increase my own taxes, but we have to get the township back on track financially. "
And lastly, Supervisor Chairman Erik Chuss remarked, "The 2014 budget is a step in the right direction."
In other business, Fire Chief Chuck Chapman was presented with a donation check for $10,000 by the Fireman's Association from their fundraising efforts to benefit the township fire department.