LOWER SALFORD — The difference could be as little as $6, but most Lower Salford property owners will see a slight drop in their total township property tax bill for 2020. 

"It's the same tax rates as last year, with two exceptions," Lower Salford Township Board of Supervisors Chairman Doug Gifford said at the board's Dec. 4 meeting. 

"There will be no fire hydrant tax nor street light tax. We're eliminating those," he said. 

The street lighting assessments haven't been accurate and trying to correct that would cost more than it's worth, he said. 

"Street lights are a benefit to anybody who drives through the township." Gifford said.

About 1,000 of the about 5,000 properties in the municipality were assessed the streetlight tax, with an average assessment of $55.73, according to information provided by Township Manager Joe Czajkowski. There were 4,113 properties that paid the $6 hydrant tax, he said. 

The township property tax rate remains at 2.689 mills, including 2.034 mills for the general fund, 0.095 mills for the park fund, 0.33 mills for the library fund, 0.18 mills for the fire fund and 0.05 mills for the ambulance fund. 

The average township property tax bill is $529, Czajkowski said in November. That's based on an average home assessment of $196,784 according to township information. Each mill equals $1 of tax per $1,000 of assessed property value. 

The tax rate has not increased in about 10 years, Gifford said, but said it may be necessary to hike taxes next year. 

Board member Chris Canavan said the board will evaluate the numbers in the early part of the year, rather than waiting until the budget discussions that come later in the year.

The 2020 general fund budget includes $2.2 million of revenue from real estate taxes and $3.5 million from the earned income tax. General fund expenses include $1,091,058 for administration, $3,451,782 for police and fire protection, $1,439,386 for public works, and $1,228,938 for employee benefits. 

"The Board has continued prudent budget management practices, including a conservative level of expenditures, over the better part of the last decade which has allowed for stable revenue stream and a healthy fund balance," Czajkowski wrote in a budget statement. 

The $9.1 million of general fund expenses in the 2020 budget is a 2.8 percent increase from the 2019 budget, he wrote. 

Although delayed, stormwater management requirements coming to local municipalities from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection continue to be a future cost concern, he wrote.

Planned park fund expenses in 2020 include additional trail sections throughout the township, resurfacing basketball courts and the hockey rink at Robert Clemens Bucher Park, along with maintenance of historic structures at Heckler Plains Farmstead and Jacob Reiff Park.   

"Significant funding for fire and ambulance services will be continued without a tax increase. The Harleysville Fire Company will receive $241,766 from the dedicated fire tax plus an additional allocation of $50,000 from the Township General Fund," Czajkowski wrote. "The dedicated funding for the Harleysville Area Emergency Service of $53,000 as well as an additional allocation of $12,000 from the General Fund will be continued in 2020 as well."

The budget also includes $75,000 for Harleysville Community Center, with the money assisting in upgrading the two swimming pools.

"This assistance will allow the Center to continue offering a high quality, safe facility that has been a source of community pride for over 60 years," Czajkowski wrote.

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