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  • Writer's pictureGOP Blogger

Board of Supervisors to Revisit 2020 Budget…..AGAIN

In December 2019, the previous board of supervisors approved a budget for 2020 that called for the sale of the Warminster Municipal Authority (WMA). This move would have netted the township about $86 million, which was earmarked to pay off the more than $26 million in unfunded pension liabilities, another $15 million to set up a trust account to pay for “Other Post-Employment Benefits” (OPEB) and allow the township to finish the year with an emergency fund of over $45 million. This budget also called for no increase in the mill rate for the general fund.

In January, a new Democrat led board rejected the previously approved budget, canceled plans to sell the WMA, and raised the township portion of our property taxes by a whopping 64%. Even with this massive tax increase, which is so high that it needs court approval, the newly approved budget doesn’t address the pension problem, nor does it address how we will pay for the medical benefits for retirees and their families until they reach the age of 65. And, most of all, it leaves us with no safety net going forward.

Now, we may be in for round 3 of the 2020 budget saga. It seems that the Democrats on the Board of Supervisors want to hire a consultant, for a $10,000 upfront payment. For this fee, the consultant will tell them how to save the township and put us on sound financial footing. The problem is that as a Second Class Township, there are just no new revenue streams available. That became apparent after several years of cutting expenditures and holding the line on tax increases, which didn’t help close the widening gap between expenditures and revenues. So, we are left with only a couple of options; sell assets, like the WMA, or raise taxes and cut services. The previous board opted for the former and the current board chose the latter.

It appears the consultant the Board of Supervisors want to pay to save us all is Bill McCauley, who recently resigned as the Bristol Township Manager after several contentious years. You can read more about Mr. McCauley below. Rumor has it that the township will reduce the mill rate for the general fund from the current 19 mills to 14 mills. The 19 mills was part of the January approved budget, which requires court approval. The Democrats will call this a tax reduction, but what it really amounts to is a 35% increase in township property taxes over what we paid in 2019. With the expected rollback to 14 mills for the general fund, our new consultant will need to find $1.5 million to offset this rollback. This certainly can’t be made up in just salary reductions, as you’d need to cut nearly a quarter of all the salaries in the township to make up that $1.5 million.

What you can expect in the current and near future are tax hikes, along with a reduction of full time personnel in the township, labor disputes and a cut in township services. What that means is that we will all end up paying more for less services. Our police force, which is already working with less than the recommended level of staffing, makes up over two-thirds of the General Fund supported full time workers in the township and over 75% of the total salaries. Will we see cuts there? Maybe cuts will come from the Public Works department, which accounts for just under 20% of the full time workforce but only about 12% of the salaries paid? These are people who maintain the roads, plows the snow, repairs traffic signals and lights as well as maintains the township fleet of vehicles, just to name a few.

The bottom line is that as the new Board of Supervisors struggle with the 2020 budget, the clock continues to tick toward financial failure in the township and ACT 47, which is effectively bankruptcy and a takeover by the state.


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