The Amity Township Board of Supervisors approved with a 4-1 vote on Dec. 4 Resolution 13-20 that adopts the 2014 $3.9 million budget with a .00015 fire tax millage increase.
Supervisor Robert R. Yanos opposed the motion on Nov. 6 to approve the budget and opposed the Dec. 4 motion to adopt.
“Fifty-five to 60 percent of the budget is in reserves,” said Yanos, “Does any business or resident have that in reserves? Why raise taxes when we have $2.2 million in reserves?”
Board Chairperson Kimberly J. McGrath replied that Manager Charles E. Lyon is on vacation, but that the township’s debt is more than $2.2 million, acquired to build Amity Community Park and renovate the township/police building.
Yanos said four to six months of reserves should be sufficient.
Township Solicitor Brian F. Boland, who represents other Berks County municipalities, said each municipality’s rule for its reserves is different.
Supervisor Terry L. Jones said municipalities are supposed to have 25 percent in reserves.
“I believe our township represents smart business practices and we should move on,” said Jones.
“Why do we need the reserves if we’re not going to borrow more money?” asked Yanos.
“His (Lyon’s) recommendation is not raising taxes,” said McGrath. “Staff is getting small raises, there is a fire tax increase, but somehow he (Lyon]) is making it work, and since he isn’t here . . .”
After reviewing the budget spreadsheet, McGrath said the township needs the reserves since Lyon has estimated a 2013 deficit of $109,000.
The township’s millage rate will remain at 1.3 mills and the fire tax will increase from .5 mills to .65 mills for a total millage rate of 1.95.
Taxes will increase $15 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.
The board unanimously approved the $29,390 purchase price for a new Ford F350 truck with a plow.
Funds will come from the township’s sewer account; the truck is also used at the Amity Township Waste Water Treatment Plant, Old Philadelphia Pike.
Supervisor Terry L. Jones is investigating purchasing a lower price truck through COSTARS, the state’s cooperative purchasing program, and possibly without power door locks and windows.
Boland said the public hearing to adopt the Rural Village Ordinance for the Amityville area has been rescheduled from Dec. 18 to Jan. 15.
He said 180 letters were mailed informing property owners in that area of the date change.
Boland said Glenn A. Oesterling, the former Amity Township Police Officer who was released from service on Sept. 18, has filed a grievance against the township and also filed for unemployment compensation benefits.
Oesterling’s employment was terminated Sept. 18 following a Sept. 10 Local Agency Police Tenure Act Hearing; the Board of Supervisors had found the evidence of charges against Oesterling of retail theft and receiving stolen property in July “credible and convincing.”
Boland said the township went directly to arbitration against the grievance.
Legal costs have been split between the township and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
“No delays -- people in the township are paying [his] healthcare,” said Supervisor Robert R. Yanos.
Boland said his office represented the township at the Nov. 12 unemployment hearing at the State Office Building in Reading, and a ruling is still pending.
He said a ruling for Oesterling could result in unemployment benefits retroactive to Sept. 18, which board members said the township would appeal.
Effective immediately, McGrath will make her supervisor’s book available for public viewing at the township building two days before the next meeting.
Board members said they want the public to have access to all documentation that will be discussed at the following meeting, including the Manager’s Report.
The board meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month.
Excluded from public viewing and the state’s Right to Know Law are documents relating to personnel, land acquisition, and litigation.