Antrim sets 2015 budget, schedules another hearing

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Healthcare costs are the driving force for the end of a longstanding benefit for Antrim Township employees and supervisors. The 2015 preliminary budget, which was approved Nov. 10, includes individual contributions to health insurance plans.

Antrim has historically paid the entire premium for employees taking insurance coverage, either a family or single policy. Next year they will pay one percent of the premium.

Antrim administrator Brad Graham said, “It is a big step.”

Expenses are going up 12 percent in 2015, and the board of supervisors felt it was time for the beneficiaries to pay something toward their insurance. The cost to the township for a family plan is approximately $23,000 annually.  A policyholder will now pay $230. As the budget includes a two percent raise for staff, they will still come out ahead, said Graham.

The general fund preliminary budget was set at $2.74 million, with $2.25 in revenue. The shortfall would be drawn from reserves.

Second hearing set

The board will host a second hearing on proposed amendments to the township code. Based on feedback from the Nov. 10 hearing, zoning officer Sylvia House made revisions to the zoning map, but left the official map as it was.

Ten citizens were present last Monday for the bumped up meeting, due to Veterans Day on Tuesday. Board chair Pat Heraty announced that the next hearing would be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25. The supervisors would then vote on adopting the amendments.

From a public comment that Thanksgiving travel could make it hard for some residents to attend the hearing, Heraty said input was welcome in any format, including mail and email.

House said the official map would not be changed, though Matthew Weeden had requested his family’s property, known as the Shelly farm, be taken off  Antrim’s list of historic places. The township has recognized 58 such sites.

The barn is identified as significant, House said. It is associated with a Mormon settlement in 1849.

Some zoning changes suggested by residents were found to be worthwhile, and she said the map would reflect them. They included switching a section on Hykes Road by the railroad tracks to industrial, a strip on Molly Pitcher Highway to community commercial, a section of Greenmount Road to R2, and a piece west of Grant Shook Road to R1.

Some people had testified against 100-foot setbacks, but House did not want that issue to delay adoption of the ordinance. She also did not like the distance.

“Many people and some board members are in favor of keeping it,” she said. “If it negatively affects farmers and property owners, we can revisit it later.”

If the ordinance is approved, it will take effect five days later.

In other business, Heraty, James Byers, John Alleman and Fred Young III approved the 2015 budget for the  Franklin County Area Tax Board, and apppointed Jennifer Becknell as representative to that body. Rick Baer was absent.