Tax rate holds in Clay Twp. Plan to increase donations to three fire companies in 2013

By on November 28, 2012

By: JACQUELINE WATSON Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Clay Township is not planning to raise taxes in 2013. During preliminary approval of the new budget earlier this month, supervisors will keep the real estate millage rate at 1.3, meaning properties assessed at $100,000 will pay $130 in taxes.

Total expenditures anticipated in 2013 amount to $1,779,713 and total revenue is expected to be $1,685,487. The $94,226 shortfall will be covered with budgeted reserves, according to Bruce Leisey, township manager.

Despite the era of tight municipal budgets, the township will not cut its donations to local fire companies. The status of annual contributions was part of the ongoing budget discussion. Beneficiaries on the table include fire companies and the Ephrata Public Library.

In addition to the usual donation made to Durlach Mount Airy Fire Company, Clay Township is helping to fund the fire company’s newly purchased fire engine. The board agreed to assist with the cost previously, but had not specified an amount. They have since decided to give an extra $8,000 each year for the next five years. This will cover approximately 10 percent of the total cost of the fire engine, which is estimated at $400,000.

The two other fire companies included in the Clay Township budget, Lincoln and Brickerville, will each receive an increase of $500. This will bring their yearly contribution to $6,000 each.

The board decided to increase their donation to the Ephrata Public Library. Although increased, it still does not match the $4.25 per capita requested by Ephrata Public Library Executive Director Penny Talbert. However, the supervisors decided on what they consider to be a significant increase from the current $2.85 per capita to a proposed $3.10 per capita. It had been expressed by residents in attendance at both the November meeting and an earlier meeting that the library was not their first choice for an increase in use of funds. The board felt that not raising the amount as high as requested was in keeping with the desire of these Clay Township residents while still supporting the educational services of the library.

"Those are community services that we participate in for the good of the community, but then when you draw it down to dollars and cents, $20,000 is a lot of money," commented supervisor vice-chairman Justin Harnish.

Various repair projects throughout the township were also discussed. The best method for maintenance and whether it should be delayed to another year or handled soon played a part in this discussion.

"The township has a responsibility to maintain that area, and I think we do well when we honor our commitments … If that’s a township obligation, then that’s what it is, then that’s what we spend the money on," said Harnish concerning certain maintenance projects.

The board is taking time to carefully handle its budget, from electric bills to donations, and an additional meeting was scheduled for Nov. 20, at which time the supervisors passed their preliminary budget, which is available for public inspection at the township office. Final approval is expected in mid-December.

In other business, after investigation, it was discovered that the township does not have an ordinance regulating the speed for portions of Countryside development and roads within some other developments. This was brought into question at the October meeting by concerned resident Herb Noack in regard to dangerous driving. The board approved advertising for an ordinance that would restrict the speed on these roads to 25 mph. More CLAY TWP., page A16

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