BURRELL TOWNSHIP: Supervisors delay decision on 2014 budget
BLACK LICK — The Burrell Township board of supervisors this week ratified the township’s 2014 budget but delayed enacting the tax structure that’s officially needed before the township can raise necessary funds for conducting business in the coming year.
The assessment needed to recoup costs of illuminating the streetlights on Penn Drive was absent from a tax resolution prepared for adoption at the supervisors’ regular monthly meeting on Wednesday.
Penn Drive runs through The Colony at Chestnut Ridge, a residential development built over the last several years on the grounds of the Chestnut Ridge golf course and resort complex off Old Route 22 near Route 119. The half-mile-long road had been finished to township specifications and the supervisors formally adopted it as a township-owned road earlier this year.
But for most of the year, the supervisors said, the electricity for the streetlights remained on the service line for the Chestnut Ridge complex and the private ownership firm, Chestnut Ridge Land Development, continued to pay the lighting bill until November, when the service was separated. A new billing account was established in the township’s name, but the first bill had not been issued before this week, meaning that the supervisors could not calculate the fee that would be assessed to owners of the 13 lots along Penn Drive.
Supervisor Anthony Distefano said the township also needed to adopt a resolution defining a “lighting district” subject to the billing assessment before adding the fee to the overall tax resolution.
The resolution empowers the township to collect a tax of 9.6 mills on all properties (7.6 mills for general purposes and 2 mills reserved for support of local fire departments), 0.1 mill on properties served by public water systems for maintaining fire hydrants, and various fees to pay for streetlights, assessed at rates of dollars per front foot of lots on lighted streets. The fees range from 30 cents to 70 cents.
What worried the supervisors Wednesday was whether the township would be required to amend the budget to reflect the Penn Drive lighting costs and fees, and to delay enactment for a 30-day public review period, which could not be done before Jan. 1.
That fear was allayed after township officials consulted Thursday with the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors. To meet their obligations and continue conducting business, Distefano said this morning, the supervisors will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. Monday to designate the lighting district and to adopt a tax resolution that lists Penn Drive for a lighting assessment.
“I expected to see a bill by now, because it has been separated and it is a separate meter now,” Distefano said. “But without a history we would just be conservative in the assessment.”
He said the board would include the costs of modifying the electric circuit in the service assessment, then reduce the amount in the 2015 budget to reflect 12 months of actual billing.
At the meeting Monday, the supervisors also expect to amend the budget to add the Penn Drive figures, hold it open for a minimum 10 days of public review, and then adopt it again at the next regular meeting on Jan. 15.
The budget lists about $654,000 of expenses for the coming year.
In other business Wednesday, the supervisors voted to continue enrollment in a drug and alcohol testing program offered by the Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit, and announced the office would be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The supervisors will hold a special meeting for reorganization on Jan. 6 and the township auditors will meet Jan. 7.