MANCHESTER – The township’s municipal budget was presented by Mayor Robert Hudak recently and it featured an average increase of about $30 for residents.
“This budget is designed to bring the township back on track to provide a stable means for future years,” the mayor said as he showed a PowerPoint presentation during a Township Council meeting.
He said that between 2018 and 2022 “our ratable base has actually improved over the last five years.” He also noted that a revaluation which impacted the tax rate in 2020 and many “differentials occurred due to that revaluation.”
The mayor also noted that the township’s new paid-full-time Emergency Medical Services program which falls under the jurisdiction of the township police department continues to impact the annual spending plan.
“The EMS portion was covered. EMS was a new line item and our rate for uncollected taxes had decreased because our administration was able to get a higher collection rate in collecting taxes,” he said.
Regarding the general operating budget, the mayor told the Council and public, “we’ve had increases in salaries over the past five years as well as operating expenses and some statutory changes in the amount of $1.1 million.”
“This year the tax rate is 56.7 which is a one and a half cent increase from the prior year. For an average assessed home of $200,290 it is approximately a $30 increase or $7.50 every quarter,” the mayor added. “The ratable base for the township has grown. We have $2.8 million in reserve bringing us back to close as much as possible to that $3 million in reserve that we historically had.”
Mayor Hudak noted that the township provided double funding for the community’s volunteer fire companies to cover the expense of replacement equipment. “We realigned some of our departments to try and cut down on expenses.”
Business Administrator Brandon Umba added to the presentation saying, “in 2022 there was a reevaluation and as the mayor stated we have seen a five-year trend of a four-percent increase in operations meaning revenue to support (the budget).”
“There was a request to administration to have a flat budget this year,” Umba added. “Other than laying people off, something the mayor adamantly stated he was against, there was no way to keep a flat budget.”
He said, “thankfully, with EMS, we’ve been able to move our revenue so tax dollars supporting the EMS operations and salaries were $230,000 paid by tax dollars the remaining $2.5 million is covered by the revenue received from the operation.”
“We are also seeing debt service increases by a million dollars so you are looking at an overall operational cost that have increased by four percent and continually going up while also trying to manage the revenue that is coming down. That is a 1.5 cent increase to the residents which is an average resident $30 increase and we will continue to try and manage it the best that we can as we go forward,” the Business Administrator said.
“We were able to maintain the current operations of the township that residents have come to enjoy from their town,” Umba added.
Umba added that with the EMS program continually growing “because of the calls for service that we are receiving, because the EMS service is so new to Manchester you can not move the revenue items outside the cap reserve.”
He noted that the state authority that oversees this wishes to see a “steady income before they start letting you average what you are bringing in. Since it has been so new, we weren’t able to put that number outside the cap.”
Emergency Services Director Robert Baran said “so far this year we are at 179 responses by outside agencies.”
“Last year the number was 440 calls by outside agencies coming into Manchester. In order for Manchester to answer those calls, we need to put an extra rig on and that increases your expenses. If those expenses are not offset by revenue that is showing a large increase in your budget which means you are going over the cap that Governor (Chris) Christie put into place for expenses. That is why it was so important that the revenue offset EMS placed in an offset area instead of inside the cap,” Umba explained further.
No one came up to speak or ask questions during the public comment period that followed.