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Budget in township soars, taxes hold

December 21, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - History was made Monday night when the Washington Township Supervisors adopted a 2005 budget that topped $9 million for the first time in the township's 225 years of existence.

The new budget came in at $9,088,660, more than $1.2 million over the 2004 spending plan.

Even though the budget is higher by a significant amount, the new budget keeps the township's mill rate at 4.4 mills, Township Manager Michael Christopher said. One mill, which represents $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, brings in about $100,000.

The general fund budget for 2005 will be about $400,000 more than last year - to $3.7 million from $3.3 million this year.

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A new line item in the budget this year calls for $330,000 for Washington Township Boulevard, the nearly 5-mile bypass that will connect with Pa. 16 west of Waynesboro and end east of the borough on Pa. 16 at the entrance to a major new shopping center in Rouzerville to be anchored by Wal-Mart and Lowe's stores. Construction of the center is scheduled to begin next year.

Included in the $330,000 is $48,000 in impact fees charged to developers plus a $250,000 contribution from a major commercial developer. Initially, the money will pay for administrative and right-of-way costs plus some construction.

Plans call for about 2,000 new homes to be built over the next decade on nearly 1,000 contiguous acres of farmland that the supervisors rezoned a year ago. Land for the new shopping center was part of that rezoning.

The budget also contains an item for $261,000 for the proposed nearly 1-mile walkway that would connect Waynesboro Mall with Wayne Heights Mall along the south side of Pa. 16. It would run from the Waynesboro borough line to Welty Road on a route that takes it past Renfrew Museum and Park.

The $261,000 that the township is budgeting is a federal grant that would be funneled through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

PennDOT changed the design from a simple paved path 8 feet off Pa. 16 to a full-blown sidewalk with curbs, a change that more than doubles the cost. "It's on hold until we can come up with more money," Christopher said.

Christopher, 52, is in his 28th year as township manager. When he came on board in 1977, the township's budget was around $1 million, he said.

The township's population, according to the 1970 census, was 8,514.

"It was probably around 9,000 in 1977," he said. According to latest figures, the population today is 11,560, he said.

At least 2,000 new houses have been built in the township since 1977, Christopher said. "There have been 1,000 built in the last 10 years."

The township has added 10 miles of new roads since 1977, most in new housing developments, he said.

In 1977, the township's payroll was about 15 employees. Today it's more than 40, Christopher said.

The Washington Township Police Department had two full-time officers and one who worked part time. Today, Christopher said, there are 12 full-time officers and one part-time officer with an additional officer to be hired next summer.

Next year, the township, because of new construction expected with the new shopping center and housing developments, will hire an assistant code enforcement officer.

The assistant will assist Gerald Zeigler, the code enforcement officer, with handling building permits, enforcing the zoning and subdivision regulations and taking on responsibilities at the 150-acre Pine Hill Recreational Area.

The supervisors will consider a 3 percent raise for township employees in January, Christopher said.

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