Another Tax Decrease for Delaware Township
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, November 17, 2016
By Wayne Witkowski
Dingmans Ferry- Delaware Township’s tax millage rate will decrease by one mill, the fourth decrease in the last six years, according to the preliminary budget approved by the township Board of Supervisors.
The budget, available at the township building to the public until Dec. 9, calls for a general fund millage rate of 9.68.
It is the lowest since 2006, when it was set at 6.68 mills. The budget went from a high millage rate in recent years of 11.8 set in 2008, down three mills the following year and the up to 10.18 in 2012. It was reduced in 2012 and 2013 and further reduced to 9.68 mills last year.
The General Fund is $1,239,023.21. The supervisors have advertised a public hearing for budget adoption to be held at the municipal building started at5:30 p.m. during the Board of Supervisors on Dec.14.
Township Administrator Krista Predmore attributed the reduction in part to line item belt tightening at the Oct.25 budget workshop, a changeover of the phone system this year to Cloud Voice communication from Blue Ridge Communication that saved more than $250 monthly and also to changing the electrical service provider to a lower priced one. Predmore said the salt and road treatment also is being paid directly out of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Liquid Fuel Fund for townships. In the past, the road treatment was covered initially by the township General Fund and later reimbursed from the Liquid Fuel Fund.
The supervisors also said at the workshop before their meeting last week that they are looking for a hardware service provider to replace Sysco for the township’s phone system. Supervisor Tom Ryan said CRS is the company being considered, and its hardware is more advanced and can patch incoming calls to other people out in the field, which was not done previously. The only exclusion remains video conferencing.
Matthew Fuller, president of Regional EMS and Critical Care Ambulance, discussed with residents the takeover of Atlantic Ambulance as of Jan. 9. Atlantic has served the area for the past six years under Atlantic Health Care, which reportedly is phasing out coverage of the state.
An announcement of the changeover was sent out to residents last month.
Mike Scovil, operations coordinator for Atlantic, also was at the meeting with consultant Barry Albertson and said the transition “will be seamless” as employees, two Advanced Life Support ambulance and equipment will be moved over to Regional. Fuller said a Basic Life Support vehicle that would help cover the local senior facilities also might be added in the future. Delaware Township Ambulance responds to many of those calls in the area more regularly then Milford Ambulance, which also has BLS capability.
“We want the (current) staff to come with us. They’re the ones that interact with you every day,” Fuller said to resident at the meeting.
They will continue to operate out of the Lords Valley and Milford station.
“We’ve had a lot of bad reports with real major issues and we need a correction along the line. What that is, I don’t know,” Supervisor Tom Ryan said as the supervisors later tabled a motion to have Regional as the township’s Advanced Life support unit.
“I’m not aware of any reports since the last time I’ve been here,” and Fuller, who offered to report back to the supervisors in March to update on the transition. “I hear your concerns and understand what’s going on. We have to work together for the greater good.”
The emergency response will allow a salaried paramedic and EMT to be dispatched from the Delaware Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps where they are on duty Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays for calls from within the township that may be closer to reach than for Regional to answer the calls. The township ambulance group has three different paramedics each serving on different shifts. If they are at another call or not available, Regional will handle the response.
Fuller admitted it’s a “tough balance” to handle overlapping response calls.
The board approved without any public comment after a public hearing amended Ordinance 110.8.H addressing the minimum setback between unattached structures situated on the same distance as the height of the tallest of the structures. Those unattached structures usually are sheds, township attorney Thomas Farley stipulated at a prior meeting.
The board approved six motions, with Supervisor John Henderson casting “no” votes on all of them, for $6,939 in total appropriation for additional expenses for Akenac Park and holiday preparations for the third annual Dickens Christmas there on Dec. 10 as well as the purchase of a $1,674 Rockefeller Pine indoor/outdoor pre-lit Christmas tree from Balsam Hill.
“We’re spending this money from the General Fund out of tax-payers’ money for a Christmas tree and people are losing their homes because of taxes,” Henderson said.
“I don’t know what a Christmas tree has to do with people losing their homes,” shrugged board Chairman Jeff Sheetz.
Henderson also took issue with the township spending $475 for 350 gingerbread cookies and various toppings for children to put on them during Dickens Christmas.
“That’s a lot of money for cookies,” Henderson said. Predmore said it was evident last year that more cookies are needed and that a crowd of 2,000 is expected to attend again this year.
Also approved was spending no more than $1,000 to buy items for the Dickens Toy Shop and Dickens Christmas event supplies.
Three other measures that passed in 2-1 votes involved the playground project:
- Purchasing six triaxles of 2b 3/4 -inch stone from Dingmans Ferry Stone for $2,128
- Renting a skid streer to move the stone from CRC Rentals for $1,106 for five working days
- Purchasing five additional rolls of filter fabric from Amazon for $545
That phase of the playground project also involves an estimated $6,500 cost for labor cost estimates. One resident said that if township workers were not assigned and paid to do this project, they would be assigned elsewhere under that salary anyway.
Henderson argued afterward that the supplies and labor costs were not in the original $274,00 budgeted plans presented on Aug. 24 and signed by the board on Aug. 26 as he presented documentation of the contract.
Ryan said completion of the playground will have to carry over to spring because weather conditions will not allow for the laying down of artificial surfaces. He took issue with Henderson’s dissenting votes.
“We agree to disagree and I respect his opinion but these things are about the quality of life for our resident who are paying taxes.” Ryan said after the meeting.
Joe Simmions,18, of Boy Scout Troop 1005 and a senior at Delaware Valley High School, was recognized by the board for earning Eagle Scout rank by completing his two-day project to refurbish the playground area of Holy Trinity Church. The outlaying area of the playground was flattened and a wooden border was installed to enhance safety.
A bench also was built. The supervisors moved on suggestion during public comment to paint white lines off Park Road as soon as possible. …They said afterward they also plan to move ahead to signing over Nichecronk Road over to Camp Speers.
Ryan said the camp has dropped its original request for the township to pave the road that was requested as part of the signoff, which was a holdup on the township’s side of the deal.
Supervisors also approved Akenac Park as the requested site for the Klondike winter survival event hosted by Boy Scout Troop 174 for Feb. 4,2017. … A $2,500 subsidy was approved for Holy Trinity Food Pantry, which reported in the last meeting an increasing demand for assistance by local families. The township gave $4,000 earlier this year. … They relayed the state Department of Environmental Protection’s notice that a drought watch has been declared for Pike County and water should be used prudently. … The board approved advertising the dates and times for upcoming reorganization meeting: the Board of Supervisors 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 4 and the Planning Commission 6:30 p.m. on Jan.17.