Newtown Township

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> Faced with budget uncertainties as a result of the coronavirus, the Board of Supervisors during an online Zoom meeting on April 22 scraped plans for an extensive $1.6 million road repaving program this year.

Instead, the township will pave between two-and-a-half to three miles of township streets using about $600,000 from its liquid fuels fund, money the township receives from the state and generated by the gasoline tax.

The township had originally planned to borrow a million dollars to fund a more aggressive paving program and had advertised for bids in early March.

Twenty-township roads covering roughly 4.13 miles were slated for repaving at a cost of about $1,686,194, most of that amount, roughly $1-million, taken out in a loan. The balance would have come from liquid fuels.

And if money was left over, another 14 township roadways covering as much as 3.85 miles would have been resurfaced.

Instead, in a series of 5-0 motions, the supervisors ratified the rejection of the bids and approved the transfer of a mill of real estate tax (about $360,000) from the debt service fund to the general fund.

The transfer was recommended by township manager Micah Lewis, who expects to see the township’s revenue stream from the Earned Income Tax (EIT) impacted by the loss of jobs due to the pandemic shutdown.

The operation of the township is funded solely by the EIT, a one percent tax levied on salaries and split between the township and school district.

“When people are out of work that source of revenue is greatly impacted,” explained Lewis, noting that the township won’t know the real impact until mid- to late-summer. “This move to reallocate some money into the general fund is an attempt to pump a little bit of money from another source to pay for staff and services.”

Lewis added that he will be recommending that in next year’s budget the general operation of the township be supported by the real estate tax not just the EIT.

“We have a perfect situation right now of why the budget that was passed last year and in previous years is such a volatile budget when it comes to revenues from the sources we have now,” he said.

New office building approved

In other action, the supervisors approved preliminary as final land development plans for the construction of a one story office building fronting on the Yardley-Newtown Road at 3 Penns Trail.

The new “likely medical office” building would be built next to Capital Health in the Newtown Commons Office Park and would have a shared parking lot with 227 parking spaces in the front, rear and sides of the building.

Toll Brothers development

It was also announced that the board of supervisors won’t be making a decision on the proposed Toll Brothers development project on Twining Bridge Road until after the stay-at-home order is lifted in Bucks County.

“The matter will not be considered until at least the board’s first in-person meeting,” said the township’s legal counsel David L. Sander. “We have received an extension from Toll Brothers to make a decision on its conditional use application until the first in-person meeting of the board.”

In other action, the supervisors voted to ratify a disaster emergency proclamation initiated on March 13 and in affect through the course of the pandemic.

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