Text and images © 2006 John B. Blackford. Do not reproduce without express written permission. All rights reserved.
Nockamixon 2007 Budget Holds Line on Taxes
Open Space and Emergency Management details still pending

by John Blackford

Nockamixon Township supervisors wrapped up 2006 by approving the  2007 budget, though some loose ends remain.

The good news is that the township held the line on taxes, keeping the property-tax assessment at 1 mil and the Earned Income Tax at 1.25%. The property tax represents a small portion of township revenue, slightly over $48,500 in 2006. The much larger EIT, collected by the Palisades School District, also held steady at $370,000 for the township in 2007. However, the portion of the EIT revenue available for open-space purchases rose from $100,000 in 2006 to $190,000 in 2007, as a result of cash held over from 2006.

The 1 mil property tax collects $36 from a household with property assessed at $36,000, the township average. The EIT collects 1.25% of each resident’s earned income, with 0.5% going to Palisades School District, 0.5% ($370,000) going to Nockamixon Township, and 0.25% allocated to open space.

According to supervisor Henry Gawronski, the Open Space Fund should have available $290,000 as of the end of  2006. Since the township budgeted only that amount for open-space purchases, said Gawronski, the township is slated to contribute nothing from its general fund for 2007.

To indicate his disapproval, Gawronski voted No on the proposed budget at the December supervisors’ meeting. In subsequent e-mail, he said he was also concerned about a $2,000 reduction in the township’s contribution to Community Day, from $12,000 to $10,000.

By not spending from the Open Space Fund in 2006, the township also lost about $130,000 allocated by Bucks County, said Supervisor Bruce Kaiser. “That’s an embarrassment,” he added.

Last year, the township budgeted $400,000 for land purchase but nothing for 2007, while budgeting $290,000 for open space this year, up from nothing in 2006. Supervisor Chairman Jim Litzenberger indicated he should have put some money under the land-purchase category and added that the township will do so within the legally allowed 90 days, in a 2007 reconciliation meeting.

So, with money changing categories between years and not getting spent in 2006, there’s a bit of confusion about the plan for 2007. Money from the EIT that’s designated for open space must be spent for that purpose, but money allocated for land purchase can be used for open-space purchases. If the township does put money up for the land-purchase category before April, it may have available close to the $400,000 budgeted for such acquisitions in 2006.

This money is intended not only to acquire more open space, but also to help develop the township’s existing properties, as laid out in the township’s park-and-recreation plan of 2006. Possible areas affected include the township’s 111-acre Rapp Creek Park, plus 58 acres known as the Gorham property and 10 acres known as the Sibre property.

Rapp Creek Park is located on a former Superfund site, so there are restrictions on how it can be developed. The plan calls for sports fields and trails for hiking and biking there. Changes to the Gorham and Sibre properties have been held up because the only access is via a private road, Schoolhouse Lane. Apparently when the township purchased the properties several years ago, the lack of access was not recognized.

It’s still unclear how the township will achieve access to these areas.

Another outstanding issue is the UBREMS (Upper Bucks Regional Emergency Medical Service) budget, for ambulance service. UBREMS currently has stations in Revere and Springtown and receives contributions from nine groups: Bedminster, Bridgeton, Durham, Haycock, Nockamixon, Richland, Springfield, and Tinicum townships and Riegelsville Borough.

UBREMS president Gary Pearson indicated that if the service doesn’t receive sufficient contributions for 2007, worst case, it might have to curtail services, or even close the Revere station in Nockamixon Township. Springtown has already funded the organization at 100% for 2007, with stipulation that its station remain open.

“Nockamixon could go elsewhere, but there are no other ambulance services in the immediate area,” said Pearson. “If they are willing to put their residents at risk that’s their issue.”

Currently, the township has budgeted $32,000 for UBREMS, up from $26,000 spent in 2006. The supervisors indicated in the December meeting that this issue is still under consideration. If the township decides to change its allocation, it can do so in the 2007 reconciliation meeting.


Supervisor Chairman Jim
Litzenberger (standling)
and (l-r) Ken Gross and
Henry Gawronski
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