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Antrim Twp. nixes property tax

December 31, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Property owners in Antrim Township will have a tax-free new year thanks to a line item of zeros in the final budget approved Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The 14-page final 2009 budget received unanimous final approval without the 2-mill tax rate that the township has levied for the last few years.

Curtis Myers, board chairman and interim township administrator, openly has advocated for eliminating property taxes during most of his tenure on the board. He said the township does not need the additional $267,000 generated through real estate taxes to run in the black.

The township gets its revenue from landfill fees, interfund transfers, grants and interest that accrues on accounts.

The $6.2 million general fund budget spent at least 20 days on display for public comment at the township municipal building on Antrim Church Road in Greencastle.

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Myers said he tweaked the preliminary budget approved by the board Dec. 9 to be "more transparent" to the public, and created two new funds under the $18.8 million total 2009 budget that isolate recreational fee money and money earmarked for police services.

On Dec. 9, Supervisor Samuel Miller expressed concern over the board's decision to remove the $200,000 line item for police from the general fund and encouraged the board to not abandon saving for a police force.

"If we set this fund up right today, then if it takes 10 years to establish a police force, we have about $3 million in there," he said Dec. 9.

Myers said the current budget did not properly restrict money for a police force, and questioned the reasoning behind saving a small annual amount for police services.

"I'm telling you that it will take at least $2 or $3 million (dollars) up front to create a police force, and you can bet the tax rate will have to go up to probably 6 mills to fund it," he said Dec. 9. "At the end of this year, we will have $6 million in the landfill fund. That is more than enough to start a police force if we need to."

Myers, along with the rest of the board, let Miller's motion to continue funding police in an isolated account die without a second Dec. 9. But on Wednesday, he said he went ahead and created the police services fund.

When questioned as to what promoted the board to open the fund it decided against in early December, Myers only would say that his reasoning was the board's desire for transparency.

The $600,000 of general fund money earmarked to date for police services will not be absorbed into the general fund, but will be transferred to the new fund to grow at an interest rate of about 2 percent, Myers said.

Myers also created a fund for recreational fees paid on each proposed new residential lot, saying that money must be used within three years and a separate fund will make it easier to track the money.

The approved budget also includes a $2.6 million earmark to complete the Antrim Township Municipal Park and $1.02 million for roadway improvements while also eliminating the annual earmark for a new municipal complex.

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