North Strabane Township municipal building

North Strabane Township supervisors Tuesday took a procedural step toward approving next year’s budget without raising real estate taxes.

The five board members voted unanimously to adopt a proposed $30.6 million budget. The budget includes no recommendation to raise real estate taxes beyond the current rate of 1.03 mills.

The proposed budget is more than twice this year’s, which amounts to $14.2 million. But the bottom line for 2019 includes proceeds from a $16 million bond issue that supervisors approved late last year – mostly to fund long-term construction projects – meaning without those funds the spending is roughly constant.

“That’s inclusive of all of the bonds and all that stuff,” township manager Andrew Walz said of the documents outlining next year’s budget.

Most of the bond proceeds – $10.3 million – are in a special fund that accrues interest. The only use of the fund that township officials recommended for next year is to put $1 million toward ongoing expenses stemming from a 2018 landslide in the township’s Majestic Hills neighborhood.

A mill of property tax generates $2.1 million for the township. It is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, so a house valued at $100,000 would carry a tax bill of $103. Almost two-thirds of the township’s portion of property tax bills – .642 mills – goes toward the general fund. Another .295 mills is put in the fire protection fund and the remaining .93 mills goes into the machinery fund.

But the township’s largest single source of funds is gambling revenue from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Next year, the township expects to receive $2.9 million from The Meadows to add to the capital reserve fund, which is expected to start 2019 with a balance of $800,000, and to spend about $3 million throughout the year, including on transfers to other funds. About $1.5 million from that pot will go toward debt service.

The police department makes up the largest operating cost to the township, with about $3.7 million going toward it next year. Another $500,000 is earmarked for other public safety expenses.

Township officials must approve the budget by Dec. 31. The document must be available for examination by the public for 20 days prior to final approval.

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