Salem considers tax increase

By Rodney L. Sherman

CLARION NEWS Editor

LAMARTINE

It's been talked about for a few years, but it looks as if Salem Township supervisors might actually approve a tax increase for 2020.

Supervisors Larry Smith. Eric Sherman and Eric Barnett briefly discussed the budget for 2020 at their Aug. 5 meeting.

Township secretary Jen Wade said the board needs to take a serious look at real estate tax increase following a year of more-than-usual road damage due to heavy rain and a plan to purchase a new road grader and one-ton general purpose truck.

Salem Township's real estate millage rate is 0.001664, meaning each taxable property generates about $1.61 for each $1,000 of assessed value.

As best as anyone can tell, Salem Township has not raised taxes since 1992.

In 2016, the board of supervisors considered a 2 percent tax increase but ultimately did not increase the tax levy.

In 2017, the board again considered a tax increase but decided to try to "squeak by" in 2018.

The board of supervisors agreed in 2018 the existing tax rate would get the township through 2019 but the outlook is not as favorable this year.

Already committed to several road projects, storm damage has used more materials than planned for. Also, the township's one-ton general purpose dump truck will no longer pass inspection and needed repairs would likely cost more than the truck is worth.

The township faces the same situation with its road grader. Not only are parts expensive, but almost impossible to find.

In regard to storm-damaged roads, Sherman said this month the township has applied for emergency funding from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to help pay for road work.

Sherman said he estimated rain damage at $15,000.

Apparently, Porter Mills Road sustained major damage, including wash-outs near the lone bridge along the road.

The bridge is closed. A resident near the road told supervisors people on a dirt bike and four-wheeler stole the "Bridge Closed" sign the township posted near the bridge.

Another resident asked if the township planned to re-establish the ditches along Porter Mills Road and Sherman said the work is planned.

"How are you going to do it?" the resident asked.

"The grader out there still works --- right now anyway," said Sherman.