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Lower Saucon Township Council approves first property tax increase in 5 years

Published On: Dec 20 2012 11:35:22 AM EST

Lower Saucon Township Council has approved the first property tax increase in five years as part of the 2013 municipal budget.

The $6.8 million general fund township budget, approved by council Wednesday night, includes an increase in the municipal portion of the real estate tax bill from 4.14 mills to 4.39 mills. The rate of 4.14 mills had been in place since 2008.

The increase amounts to $25 on a home assessed at $100,000, setting the total 2013 municipal tax payment at $439 on every $100,000 of assessed property value.

The .25 millage increase will be dedicated to a yearly fire tax, which is expected to generate about $107,000 annually. These yearly revenues will be dedicated for the purchase and financing of equipment for the volunteer fire companies serving the community.

Township Director of Finance Cathy Gorman said fire tax is being established in response to fire equipment over the years becoming too expensive for volunteer departments to fund on their own.

“It’s very difficult for volunteers to try to raise this type of money on their own,” Gorman said, noting that a new fire pumper vehicle can cost in the range of $1 million.

Gorman said numerous other area municipalities with volunteer fire departments are facing the same challenges. Fire taxes have already been established in surrounding municipalities, including neighboring Hellertown, she said.

Township officials said that about 65 percent of the 2013 budget covers fixed expenses, including employee salaries and benefits, insurance, utilities and library contribution. The overall 2013 budget represents a 1.25 percent increase over 2012.

“What we’ve managed to do here is fund all the priority services and maintain the same level of services that we’ve been providing to township residents,” Township Manager Jack Cahalan said when the 2013 budget plan was first presented to council in October.

Capital improvements listed in the budget include: replacement of the main township building front door, cleaning out of the basement at Seidersville Hall; upgrading Steel City Park; pavilion installation at Polk Valley Park; repainting of Lutz Franklin School House; and work and repairs needed at the main township building and Seidersville Hall to become energy efficient.

The budget includes no increase in council members' compensation.

Complete budget information can be found on the Lower Saucon Township website.