Warminster Township is getting a refresh in more ways than one.
Two new members, Judy Hoover and Kenneth Hayes, joined the now Democrat-led board of supervisors at the first meeting of the New Year on Jan. 6.
The reorganized board, now led by Chairman Hayes, reopened the 2020 budget as one of the first orders of business.
The previous board approved the 2020 budget at the end of 2019, passing it with no general fund tax increase. That budget presumed the sale of the township water and sewage system estimated at $90 million, an action the new board opposed.
Supervisors said they plan to look into other options to cover the ever-growing expenses and minimize the shortages in the budget.
“Without the sale of the sewer and water system there is a huge and growing deficit that needs to be addressed,” said township manager Gregg Schuster.
In fact, if the supervisors do not come up with alternatives, the township is in danger of going bankrupt by the end of the year, Schuster said.
Supervisor Mark McKee voted against reopening the budget and approving a proposed new budget, making the final vote 4-1.
The new budget, which the board will now advertise and approve at a future date, will raise the general fund tax milage by 7.91 mills to the maximum allowed 19 mills.
According to state law, the township will have to have the new tax increase approved by a court as the increase takes property taxes over 14 mills. Supervisors approved this necessary measure in another 4-1 vote with McKee voting against it.
Other millage rates will remain the same as in the previously approved budget. The total millage rate, which includes the ambulance, fire, library, parks and recreation and debt funds will rise from 17.07 mills to 28.06 mills.
A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s tax assessed value.
Homeowners with properties assessed at $25,500, a township average, would see an increase in tax bills from $435 to about $715 a year.
Warminster Township tax collector will not mail tax bills to the township residents until the board approves a new budget.
“Hopefully we can get the township finances in order and hopefully we can lower the millage rate in the upcoming year,” said Hayes. “One thing we must do, we must explore all the options. We are going to choose the best path for the residents and everyone, but we're going to need some time.”