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Road improvements make Antrim supervisors think twice about tax cut

October 22, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- The Antrim Township Supervisors said last week that they hope to make property taxes a thing of the past, but when staring down the barrel of $950,000 for road improvements on Tuesday, the board questioned the wisdom of choking a steady revenue source.

Board Chairman Curtis Myers, who has been a strong proponent for cutting the tax burden on township residents, briefly backtracked on his stance of eliminating taxes.

After hearing from Roadmaster/Maintenance Superintendent Paul Minnich that it would take almost $1 million to pave eight miles of road in 2009, Myers said he would rather see the roads repaired than eliminate all tax revenue in 2009.

Since August, Myers has said that the township's administrative reorganization has freed up enough money to cut taxes.

The reorganization will save the township "at least" $440,000 in salary, benefits and compensation every year, Myers said.

Even with a $440,000 cushion, he questioned his desire to lose all of the $267,000 annual property tax revenue.

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Supervisors Fred Young III, Samuel Miller and Rick Baer did not share his concern, saying they wanted to stick with their decision to eliminate the 2-mill tax rate.

"I say why not bump it (road improvement earmark) up $1 million and just find the money somewhere else in the budget," Miller said.

Elwood Myers, chairman of the Antrim Township Municipal Authority, cautioned the board about cutting too much revenue too soon.

"No one remembers when you cut taxes, but when you have to raise them up again, then people remember," he said.

The $2.5 million budget has run consistently in the black, with accounts generating an additional $167,000 in interest in 2008, Myers said. Additional revenue is realized through sewer and landfill fees.

Minnich said he wanted the board to improve six township roads in 2009 - Shanks Church Road, Shinham Road, Phillippy Road, Marsh Road, Gearhart Road and Talhelm Road.

Myers initially suggested earmarking $800,000 for road projects. His quickly tossed figure met with a simple response from Minnich.

"If that is how much you want, then I will have to cut a mile off the list," Minnich said.

Solicitor John Lisko said a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding with the township's Municipal Authority will provide the budget an additional $305,000. He said the agreement requires the municipal authority to pay the township the excess if its sewer revenue account exceeds $900,000.

The township agreed to budget $1 million for road improvements in 2009.

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