Tunkhannock Township supervisors voted Monday to advertise its 2021 budget without a tax increase.
The supervisors held a budget workshop Oct. 19 and discussed changes in revenue affected by the COVID-19 virus, such as earned income and local service taxes, ACT 13 monies, reduced liquid fuel funding, police pensions and road projects. The supervisors expressed keeping the same real estate tax at 5.5 mills and fire protection at 1.5 mills.
Secretary Judy Gingher said Monday (Nov. 9) there had been questions about how to include the funds from the Fox Road project in the new budget, and noted that unreserved state money could be used to shore up the township’s expense on the bridge.
Supervisor Randy White said he did not have an appetite to raise taxes, a point both Hoyt Keiser and Glenn Shupp readily agreed.
“We’re solvent with what we have knowing that we may have to use unreserved funds,” White said.
Brett Bassett was present at the outset of Monday’s meeting and gave an update of the Fox Road Bridge project across the South Branch of the Tunkhannock Creek in Bardwell.
He spoke of PennDOT’s generosity in a $786,000 grant this summer as well as funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for a $1 million muliti modal grant one year ago to see the project through.
It was acknowledged that an appraisal had been done of adjacent property to the current bridge, but the amount was not discussed.
Gingher acknowledged that the township had received a liquid fuel distribution of $7,409 on Oct. 23, as well as CARES funding related to the pandemic in the amount of $1,252 on Oct. 9.
She also noted that the county assessor’s office had informed the township that one property had gone up, two decreased in value and nine stayed the same during the month of October.
Keiser gave the road report as road foreman Ken White was not present. He referenced cold patching, two loads of salt and grading Sunnyside Road, and there was also discussion about Mile Road and the need for repositioning guide rails.
Resident Ed Harding questioned the supervisors about whether the township owned a side spreader. The supervisors acknowledged they did. He then asked why township roads were not being bermed.
Supervisor White acknowledged it was an issue that needed to be followed up.
Supervisors also voted Monday their intent to hire a certified public accountant to conduct a 2020 audit.
From its Oct. 19 special meeting that extended beyond discussing the 2021 budget, the supervisors expressed regret about the death of the township’s tax collector Ron Whipple. It was noted that his widow, Kim, was already designated as Deputy Tax Collector. Keiser said he had spoken with her and she told him she was willing to fill the remainder of Ron’s term through Dec. 31, 2021.
The supervisors then unanimously appointed her to the position.
On Oct. 19, the supervisors also decided to rescind the salt shed award, noting some legal obligations had not been met. A letter was to be sent to Snyder Equipment retracting the award, along with returning its bid bond.
The supervisors said they expected the project would be re-advertised in the spring of 2021.
The meeting adjourned and the supervisors went into executive session.
Gingher reported Tuesday morning that the township’s workmen’s comp insurance agent DGK Insurance had located a carrier that would bring the costs down $4,000 and the supervisors voted to accept the change.