Jul 30, 2014

No Tax Hikes Proposed in New Horsham Budget

Horsham Council will vote on its $14 million budget in mid-December.

No Tax Hikes Proposed in New Horsham Budget

If Horsham’s proposed 2013 budget remains on track, residents will not be asked to contribute any additional tax money next year.

The budget, unveiled before Township Council Monday night, does not call for any tax hikes. The budget — which totals $14,195,854 — includes a 5 percent increase in expenditures.

Township Manager Bill Walker, however, said the increases are minor.

Walker said borough staff began working on the budget in July and were committed to keeping expenses low.

“It’s still very conservative,” he said. “We’re not paving as many roads as we could or doing as many park improvements because of how the economy and market are right now. So we have continued to be conservative.”

Walker said council will further examine the proposal in a series of public meetings over the next few weeks and ideally would vote to adopt the budget at its Dec. 12 meeting.

Walker presented an overview of the expenditures at the meeting, which include three new police vehicles, a pick-up truck and a one-ton dump truck for the Highway Department and a one-ton dump truck for the Parks Department. All will be replacement vehicles, not new additions to fleets.

The budget includes funding for the repaving of a three-mile stretch of the Oak Hill development and a storm sewer project in the Horsham Terrace development that includes 12 new inlets to alleviate flooding during rainstorms. The proposal would support upgrades to the Samuel Carpenter Park tennis courts and the Kohler Park playground, pavilion and restrooms — two projects that are also supported by grants and funding from the Horsham Rotary Club.

It includes allocations for the Clearbrook Park creek bank stabilization project and a “standby” allotment for a connector trail along the PECO Power Line Trail. The latter project is awaiting the finalization of the county budget, as Montgomery County has tentatively pledged to cover 80 percent of costs if the township can match the remaining 20 percent.

The budget would allow for a traffic signal upgrade at Limekiln Pike and Welsh Road and the initial stage of the replacement of the township's 467 streetlights with LED energy-efficient lights — a project that Walker noted will be phased in over several years. Also included is money for the inclusion of a pedestrian crossing light at Horsham and Babylon roads, the Route 611 corridor revitalization plan, the beginning of the township’s update to its zoning ordinance and upgrades to township bridges and storm inlets.

The proposal would also fund a new township Web site.

Walker noted the current site is widely accessed and has won numerous awards but said upgrades are needed.

“Technology changes week by week and we really want to do more with the site,” he said, noting that suggested improvements include a feature to allow residents to send in township forms via the site and to pay for certain township fees via credit card.

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