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Springettsbury Twp. facing nearly $1 million budget shortfall for 2018

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch

An unbalanced budget and federally mandated requirements are being blamed for a potential tax increase in Springettsbury Township's 2018 budget. 

Township Manager Ben Marchant said the township might investigate the creation of  a designated revenue source to fund Clean Water Act programs. Stormwater clean-up projects are federally mandated, however they are not funded, he explained. 

"We're developing our compliance program, and there's quite a bit that still needs to be done," he said. 

Springettsbury Township Manager Ben Marchant. Submitted/photo

Under a new 2018-23 permit, Springettsbury is being asked to contribute $225,000 to the York County Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan. The reduction plan is being executed by a group of 52 local governments that pool funds to clean up York County waterways that lead to the Chesapeake Bay. 

York County Planning Commission Director Felicia Dell said municipalities were asked to commit $13 million over five years toward the next phase, which is mostly project construction and some project design work. 

The total cost of all projects is $15.6 million, Dell explained. The remaining $2.6 million would be funded through grants, in-kind donations and private funding, she said. 

Only municipalities with an MS4 permit have to complete a reduction plan for pollution. The permit requires municipalities in urbanized areas to improve their stormwater management programs. 

"It’s quite an extensive burden," Marchant said. "Not that it shouldn’t be done. It’s important. But there’s not a revenue source tied to it."

More:Costs expected to spike for York County's Chesapeake Bay cleanup coalition

Stormwater management: Springettsbury Township officials are currently mapping conditions of existing infrastructure, he said. That includes checking recently developed subdivisions for failing or clogged systems. 

"That takes staff resources that we don't have a budget for," Marchant said.

The "trick" is trying to define new hires and staffing levels, he continued. Springettsbury is dealing with a "reduction in staff." 

The Department of Environmental Protection holds a press conference to announce grant funding for 17 additional municipal stormwater projects at York County Prison in Springettsbury Township, Thursday, June 29, 2017. The projects are all located in Pennsylvania's portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"That's being back-filled by using outside consultants," he explained. "Once we know what the needs will be long-term, then we can shift back to in-house hiring."

Community development — where program design, studies, mapping and GIS (geographic information system) are vitally important — and public works are areas where new hires are needed most, Marchant said.  

"They're getting a handle on the scope of stormwater management to keep our creeks and our streams clean," he said. 

Budget status: During a recent budget work session, Marchant presented supervisors a review of the past 10 budget cycles. Within that time, he said, supervisors voted to raise local taxes twice. 

The budget is projecting $12.8 million in revenue and $13.8 million in expenditures. Marchant said he will work with board supervisors to decide how the nearly $1 million gap will be filled. 

Marchant said the township also needs to figure out how it is going to pay for new equipment at the York Area United Fire and Rescue station. He estimates that amount to reach $175,000, which is currently not part of the estimated budget. 

The next budget work session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.  Monday, Nov. 6 at the township's administrative building.