Good Attendance, many questions at East Cocalico supervisors meeting

By on December 13, 2017

Approximately fifteen people attended East Cocalico supervisors Dec. 7 meeting. About half had questions for supervisors on a variety of topics.

Resident Brian Wise opened public comment by asking supervisor Noelle Fortna, “Did you check the Nov. 7 results?” (The Election Day results saw Romao Carrasco defeating Fortna.)

Fortna replied, “No.”

Wise then asked, “Would you ever consider reaching out to him (Carrasco) and congratulating him?”

Fortna answered, “No comment.” No other information regarding this exchange was given.

The $5.6 million 2018 proposed budget, with a $400,000 deficit, was examined by township manager, Scott Russell, who found feasible ways to trim just under a thousand dollars–$946-from the total. Mackley said supervisors will be examining the budget line by line in the coming weeks, doing everything they can to minimize costs. The vote on the proposed budget is slated for Dec. 21.

The 2.5 percent tax increase approved in Nov. will yield approximately $37,500. There’s been no tax increase in three years. Voting for the increase was Alan Fry and Doug Mackley. Voting against the increase was Fortna.

Carrasco asked Fortna, “You said your financial analysis has shown we don’t need a tax increase. Would you outline why we don’t need a tax increase?”

Fortna said, “We’ll only bring in $37,500 with the tax increase. I think we have enough reserves and some items, which I don’t think I’ll go into now, in the budget that we don’t need the tax increase. We’ll enjoy higher revenue from the developments we have coming in like UGI and NHT (New Holland Transport). I see a bright future.”

Carrasco asked Fortna if she were confident in those numbers that there’d be no negative impact through 2019. He noted that with UGI’s tax abatement, no tax would come in during the first year and 20 percent of the total tax in the following year. Fortna said she was confident in her numbers.

Carrasco then asked Fortna, “If I could, I may ask to see your budget forecast for 2018 and 2019. One year (forecasting) is a lot of work and you said you looked ahead to 2019.”

Fortna did not address any actual documents created by her. She added, “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I think we’re in good shape.”

Mackley said, “I voted for the small tax increase because it’s not wise to run down your reserves to almost nothing. We do have a $400,000 shortfall. We’ve estimated costs like pension costs and stormwater management project costs which ended up being higher. We did not know about the ambulance shortfall until the middle to end of October.” The ambulance is slated to receive $96,000 in the proposed 2018 budget.

Chanse Firestone asked, “Is this $96,000 for the ambulance a recurring expense each year?”

Mackley said, “I don’t know, but I’m guessing it’s a one-time hit.”

Resident Jeff Mitchell asked about the 2 million dollar loan for the Denver Road Bridge. It was bid for a total cost of $1.6 million. The budget lists $200,000 of township money allocated for the bridge.

Russell said, “We’re not done. About $440,000 will probably be needed to resurface the road.”

Mitchell also noted that, at times, monies have been allocated for projects for which grant money later came in to assist, yet the allocated monies stayed in the budget under those projects, even though not needed.

Fortna said, “These monies weren’t restricted in any way. That money just sat there.”

The amounts to which Mitchell referred totaled approximately half of the $400,000 budget deficit.

Mackley spoke to the traffic impact fee, “which helps with one of the township’s best assets, its roadway system.”

Fortna said, “This municipality has done more planning for the future than most and I’m proud of that.”

In other business:

  • Supervisors accepted with regret, Police Chief Terry Arment’s retirement letter, effective in Feb. 2018.
  • Supervisors approved hiring, pending required advertising, Maher Duessel Accounting, to audit 2017 books for $8,225.
  • Following executive session, supervisors reconvened and approved conditional hiring of a police officer to replace Kerry Sweigart, who retired in August.
  • Jim Black, volunteer firefighter, asked what’s happening regarding workman’s compensation insurance coverage for firefighter’s injured doing fundraising. Russell said, “it’s a priority and it’s moved to the top of my list. Scheduling a meeting with three different fire chiefs isn’t always easy.”

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