Budget talks progress for Antrim Township

PAT FRIDGEN

Budget talks continued Oct. 20 for the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors. Some expenses were anticipated to go up in 2010, some stay the same and others to drop.

Expenses for personnel was skipped, although reference was made that more employees were on tap for the new year. The professional fees for solicitor John Lisko dropped from $72,500 to $50,000, but some of his fees were directed to other line items. While no money was specifically set aside in 2009 for Right-to-Know legal fees, the township spent $5,123 year-to-date for reviews, and allotted $1,000 for next year. The current general fund law budget also did not contain specific monies for court cases, though there were expenditures for five, so they were put into line items for the new budget. Antrim spent approximately $24,000 this year on the age discrimination lawsuit filed by five former employees, Moss Spring, Jesse Hykes estate, Jeff Todd and K Hovnanian Homes. The latter two were resolved. The board is prepared to spend $20,000 in 2010 for the employee lawsuit. In the final column, the 2009 budget for legal was close to $75,000 and for next year went to just over $78,000.

Engineering fees rose from $125,000 to $133,500, to bring possible expenditures into line with the actual costs this year.

Utilities were expected to be stable for gas and water, but a 30 percent increase was made for electricity, due to rate caps ending. While contracted mowing services were allotted $5,000 this year, it was not used, but will be in 2010. Maintenance superintendent Paul Minnich expressed concern with Antrim Township Community Park nearing completion. "Can you imagine what it'll be like with another 45 acres to mow? The guys need a rest."

He said the one person hired for 20 hours per week as park caretaker was going over on time but not necessarily billing the township.

Rick Baer recommended putting aside $500,000 for capital purchases, rather than the $100,000 recorded on the worksheet. The supervisors plan to upgrade the municipal building, with interior remodeling as well as possibly some exterior work. It also expected to bring the restrooms into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. "I'd rather be high than low," he replied to another supervisor's expression of surprise at the number.

Opposing views.

What to do about a police force caused some friction in the discussion. No money was set aside in 2009, though $600,000 is in the bank from previous years. Sam Miller wanted the money moved to a restricted fund and Curtis Myers suggested an emergency services fund, so it could be available if the Rescue Hose Company ever ceased to be a volunteer organization. Miller wanted it to be preserved just for police, warning that someday the state would require each municipality to have a force of some kind, and he wanted the township to be prepared.

Fred Young III disagreed. "I don't like restricting funds like that. My crystal ball isn't working. (If the state mandates) then you can say 'I told you so.'"

Concerned about the bottom line, Myers added, "I'm dying to know what our numbers are at the end of the year."

Young added that the board had been talking about adding more employees and that would increase expenses.

The board has not yet addressed whether the mill rate will stay at zero.

Other business

Ganoe Paving was the low of three bids to pave 5,300 feet of trail within Antrim Township Community Park. This fall it will pave a trail from Conococheague Lane to the soccer fields and around, two gravel parking lots and three ADA driveways for $224,300.

Minnich was getting quotes to replace a 13-year-old dump truck and a 25-year-old pickup truck.  A newer truck had undergone $7,100 of repairs. "I want everything ready to go at all times," he told the board.