In setting up his budget presentation, Fosselman started with the plusses.
"The good news is that the Sewer and Liquid Fuels budgets are balanced. Also, there will be no increase in the refuse rates for 2014," Fosselman writes in a memo he handed to the Board of Commissioners at Thursday's meeting along with the proposed 2014 budget.
But, he went on to explain, that's pretty much where the good news ends.
The preliminary 2014 budget’s expenditures exceed revenues in the General Fund by $200,000 and in Capital Projects by about $1.6 million. While this gap in itself is not unusual, Fosselman points out, as the "wish lists" from various township entities tend to be large, it does indicate to him that it's time for a "fundamental change" in the township revenue structure.
"Lower Macungie Township has been relying on budget surpluses and selling of assets over the past 5-10 years in order to balance the General/Capital Project Funds," he writes.
For the 2014 budget
Fosselman is recommending that the commissioners institute what he describes as
a "small, but necessary 1/3 of a mil real estate tax" to support
Capital Fund projects.
The proposed .33 mil tax would mean that a Lower Macungie Township resident with a property assessment of $100,000 would pay $33 per year to the township in real estate tax. That same resident would pay East Penn School District $1,612 (based on a 16.12 millage rate) and $379 to Lehigh County (based on a 3.79 millage rate).
If approved, this .33 mil tax would net a little more than $1 million in revenue for the township, against a total budget of about $19.5 million, according to Fosselman.
Fosselman concludes his recommendation to the board by listing the many "assets" that Lower Macungie Township has to offer its residents, including 29 parks, eight baseball fields, eight tennis courts, seven soccer fields, four volleyball courts, a community swimming pool, 26 miles of bike/walking paths, and a library.
"Given the enormity of the Township services being provided, the $96 million in assets that make up the Township infrastructure, and the level of commitment required for the 31,500 residents of the Township, a real estate tax for capital projects is both warranted and justified. The Township must have a long term plan/goal to keep the high standard and quality of life that are the fabric of the township," Fosselman writes.
The Board of Commissioners typically votes on the final budget in December. There are three public budget meetings planned for next month: Oct. 1, Oct. 9 and Oct. 29.