By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — East Buffalo Township residents will see a slight tax increase in 2014, while a last-minute decision trimmed an extra $35,000 from the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department’s proposed budget.
A three-tenths of a mill tax increase was approved Tuesday night as the East Buffalo supervisors signed off on their first pass of the proposed 2014 budget of $3.56 million.
The budget is open for public review for the next 20 days at the municipal complex on Fairground Road.
The increase in millage equals $30 per $100,000 in estimated home value, Supervisor Thomas Zorn said, and there are two main reasons for it. The first is the township’s cost to defend itself in a federal lawsuit claiming environmental violations brought by resident Violet Gallagher. The second is increased maintenance and utilities costs for the new municipal complex.
The township did take advantage of an offer in which it pays only on interest on its loan for the new complex, saving roughly $36,000, Supervisor Henry Baylor Jr. said.
Meanwhile, a last-minute decision to lease two police vehicles instead of buying them cut $35,000 from the regional police budget, bringing in the 2014 proposed total at $2.6 million, about a 3 percent increase over last year.
The police commission approved the budget Wednesday night after much debate over the vehicles, which Police Chief Paul Yost said are needed to fill in a thinning and aging fleet. Two cruisers are out of commission, for instance, one for more than three months with engine problems.
Leasing works differently for the law enforcement agency than it does for a private citizen, Yost said, and usually involves a three-year deal after which the agency can buy the vehicle for $1. The police budget had included a line item of $85,000 for vehicles before this decision.
The police budget also includes a 3.25 percent raise per officer as mandated under their union contract, which was signed last year. The department serves East Buffalo and Lewisburg.