North Middleton Township supervisors Thursday approved a $2.8 million budget for 2013 that includes no real estate tax increase.

Township staff were able to close a projected $56,000 deficit without having to resort to a tax hike or a draw-down of money from savings, Township Manager Deb Ealer said.

She explained how this was done through a combination of some cuts in the police department budget along with adjusted figures on revenue received in October and November.

The municipal tax rate will remain at 0.694 mills for 2013. This equates to a tax bill of $69.40 for a homeowner whose property is assessed at $100,000.

The 2013 budget includes a 3-percent pay hike for all township employees and the purchase of a new Chevrolet Tahoe for the police department, which is estimated at $57,000 fully equipped.

There is also $62,000 set aside for the public works department to replace a township-owned bridge on Millwick Road that has been deemed structurally deficient, Ealer said.

No audit

The supervisors took no action Thursday on a proposed audit on franchise fee revenue. Dan Cohen, a Pittsburgh area attorney, has offered to do the audit for members of Capital Region Council of Governments.

State law allows municipalities to charge cable operators a franchise fee for their use of public right-of-ways. North Middleton receives about $120,000 in annual revenue from franchise fees, Ealer said. She added the township has always received this money paid in quarterly installments.

Under the proposal, Cohen would have charged North Middleton $5,900 to review records from the past three years to verify whether the township is receiving all the money due from the cable provider, Ealer said.

The $5,900 was not included in the 2013 budget. Supervisor Chairman Robert Reisinger saw no need to spend money on an audit investigating the cable provider.

“We have no reason to believe they are doing anything improperly,” Reisinger said. He added there is no guarantee an audit would yield any additional funds in unaccounted for revenue.

Much of the focus in budget workshops was on recommendations by Police Chief Doug Reitz to beef up a department coping with an aging vehicle fleet and the potential for future manpower shortages.

Early in the talks, Reitz suggested the township replace the two highest mileage vehicles with new vehicles acquired on a two-year lease. Instead of two vehicles, the supervisors decided to purchase the Tahoe outright.

The chief recommended the Tahoe because the department lacks a four-wheel-drive vehicle that can respond to calls in the rugged terrain present throughout the township.

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