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Hampton in 'tremendous fiscal position,' no tax hike for 2018

| Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, 3:12 p.m.

Hampton Township Council approved the 2018 budget at its Dec. 13 meeting with no tax increase.

Total revenue for the 2018 general operating fund was approved at $14,977,300, an increase of $808,870 from the 2017 budget, according to a presentation at the meeting by Christopher Lochner, township municipal manager.

Total expenses in the 2018 budget are $14,936,779, a variance of $806,120 from those planned in the 2017 budget, which was approved last year for $14,130,659.

Part of the reason for the additional expenses for 2018 is a one-time $500,000, seven-year loan from PNC Bank for expenses related to adopting Shaler Emergency Medical Service as Hampton's new preferred provider, said Lochner.

Specifically, Lochner said that there will be incoming expenses the Shaler EMS will incur, in terms of equipment and labor, especially as it increases its coverage area. In order to accommodate the service area, which now includes Hampton, it might need additional staff.

The EMS will be getting this money back through insurance and subscriptions, but it will need to cover the beginning part of the year until that happens. So, Hampton will “front” that money, said Lochner. The service estimated it would need $225,000 for the first half of the year for staffing-related expenses, he said.

Lochner said Shaler will in turn pay back that amount to the township.

Also, a $250,000 portion of that loan will be invested into a one-time expense for an ambulance needed to expand the fleet. This equipment purchase also will give the township a bit of ownership in the EMS, which Lochner said is beneficial.

The other $25,000 is for any unplanned expenses that may occur with these changes, said Lochner. For instance, an EMS-related expense could be some renovations to the police department to accommodate one of Shaler's units, according to Jerry Speakman, Hampton controller.

“This was something that was not anticipated or in the budget,” he said.

However, the township made up for it with $30,000 in unexpected collection of delinquent taxes for this year, Speakman said.

Another positive is the township will be entering into the new year with a projected ending balance Dec. 31 of $1,285,827, higher than expected when the 2017 budget was approved.

“We're actually in a tremendous fiscal position,” Lochner said.

There is funding that needs to go to other expenses with the budget. Lochner said the three new council members will be given some ideas on what to do in this area.

A good portion of the revenue is thanks to the real estate, said Lochner, noting that “our housing market is on fire.”

Note taxes are not raised, Council President Victor Son said.

In fact they have been getting lower, according to Son.

From 2009 to 2014, the millage rates stayed the same at 2.245, according to Son. From 2013 to 2015, they reduced to 2.199 and then dropped to 1.979 in 2015, which Son said is projected for next year as well.

“I'm pretty pleased with it,” said Lochner of the budget.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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