Shaler Township increasing taxes for first time in more than a decade -

Shaler Township increasing taxes for first time in more than a decade

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | 12:44 PM

The Shaler commissioners Dec. 10 authorized the township’s 2020 budget, which increases the millage rate 1 mill to 3.49. This is the first tax increase since 2009.

The township will remain debt-free as it enters the new year, Manager Tim Rogers said.

The average assessed Shaler home value is $128,170. The new millage rate will result in an annual tax increase of $128.14.

According to a news release, “increasing infrastructure costs have continued to escalate and have dictated the need for this tax increase.”

“Two things that jump out at me” are sanitary sewers and paving Rogers, said, referencing the budget. The 2020 road paving budget is $1.4 million – an 84% increase from the 2019 budget. Shaler has reduced its paving budget for the previous five years and road conditions warrant the increased spending, Rogers said.

Much of the township’s storm sewer infrastructure was installed in the 1950s and ‘60s from corrugated metal piping, a common practice at the time.

“Over the years, the bottom of this piping has eroded, resulting in significant sinkholes throughout the township,” the release states. “Many of these lines were installed at depths in excess of 20 feet, requiring the township to grant these projects to outside contractors.”

Rogers said storm water spending will increase 45%.

Also in the upcoming year, Shaler is paying a quarter of costs for the replacement of Pine Creek Bridge No. 9, a county-owned bridge carrying vehicles over the eastern portion of Elfinwild Road to Route 8. The township specifically will fund work on a nearby retaining wall.

Storm damage repair is an increasing cost. Items in this category include creek bed dredging and tree removal from streams to prevent additional flooding.

The largest budgetary expenditure is compensation for 27 full-time police officers and 24 full-time public works employees and administrative staff. The township is researching body cameras for its police officers, Rogers said.

The budget includes $776, 000 for winter snow removal and ice control. The township spends $185,000 in personnel costs for its winter maintenance program.

The state Department of Environmental Protection requires the township to allocate resources for the development of a Municipal Storm Sewer Pollution Reduction Plan.

The township will continue to financially support the Shaler North Hills Library, Shaler-Hampton Emergency Medical Services and additional volunteer fire companies.

“This tax increase is the first tax increase in 11 years,” Rogers said. “The township has been fiscally prudent, however, the increasing costs of personnel, road paving, winter and infrastructure maintenance have made this tax increase a necessity. Township management is committed to provide the expected level of services to our residents and additional tax revenues are needed to ensure delivery of these services.”