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Final Newtown Township 2021 Budget Further Reduces Tax Increase

Final Newtown Township 2021 Budget Further Reduces Tax Increase | Newtown News of Interest |

A final 2021 Newtown Township budget proposes to use one of the largest property tax increases in township history to fund the hiring of an assistant township manager and three new police officers.


The $13.8 million spending plan approved 3-2 by the township supervisors hikes property taxes 3.99 mills, or $149 for a resident with a property assessed at the township average of $37,459.


And while very high by township standards, the increase is four mills less than the 7.99-mill increase in township Manager Micah Lewis' recommended budget from several weeks ago, and two mills less than the 5.99-mill increase in a preliminary budget advertised in November.


"We came a long way from the budget our manager presented," supervisor Dennis Fisher said in voting along with John Mack and David Oxley to approve the final budget. Board Chairman Phil Calabro and member Kyle Davis voted no.


Davis said the hiring of an assistant township manager in 2021, in particular, was not necessary coming off a year when many residents suffered financially because of the coronavirus pandemic.


"I don't think we're going far enough," to curtail expenses, he said. "I don't like the idea of locking in additional employees and long-term expenses coming off a year like we've had."


Several residents who joined the recent virtual meeting where the final budget was approved agreed with Davis.


"You haven't done anything on the revenue side except go after the residents for more money," said Ashok Kamath, who along with some other residents sent a letter to township officials with several suggestions for cutting expenses.


"The board is tone deaf to what we are saying. None of the expenses have been cut enough. This is a very difficult year."


A substantial tax increase was the recommendation of consultant Econsult in its proposed five-year financial plan for the township submitted in September. Officials from the company said the township needs to dramatically increase revenue in order to continue to provide adequate services and avoid using up its savings account, which now stands at about $2 million, in the next two years.


Econsult had recommended hiring 10 additional employees in the next five years, including the three police officers, assistant manager, director of zoning and code enforcement and five more paid firefighters. Hiring the zoning and code enforcement director was part of the preliminary budget but was dropped from the final spending plan.

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