New Milford Borough plans tax cut

BY STACI WILSON

After years of tightening the budget belt, New Milford Borough is seeing a light at the end of the fiscal tunnel that is expected to put money back into property owners’ wallets. The turnaround is largely due to the one percent earned income tax that went into effect Jan. 1.

“The earned income tax has created more money than I ever thought it would,” Councilman Rick Ainey said.

When council adopted the EIT, members agreed they would look at the revenue collected at the end of September and adjust borough real estate taxes accordingly. At the end of last month, New Milford had collected $52,000 – and the full third quarter revenue had not yet been received, council members reported.

Borough property owners are now taxed at 10 mills – with 8.3 of the mills going to the general fund, and the remaining mills dedicated to fire protection, recreation and street lights.

Ainey said the finance committee would be recommending cutting general fund taxes to five mills when the budget was presented at the November council meeting. The taxes dedicated to fire, rec and lights would remain the same.
Members said the EIT was adopted to relieve borough real estate taxes.
Council decided to place the $67,000 gas lease money into a certificate of deposit.

President Teri Gulick said, “I would like to see it in a separate account until we decide what to spend it on.”

With the municipal budget process underway, finance committee members told council to “speak up” if there were project ideas for 2014. No requests for spending had been received by the Oct. 3 meeting.

With access to natural gas anticipated, Ainey said he would like to see gas streets lights installed in Midtown Park. In addition to providing more light to the Main St. park – antique looking lights, coupled with the existing gazebo, would create a New England-like atmosphere in the park.

Council members are in the process of distributing surveys from Leatherstocking Natural Gas Company – the company holds the franchise to bring gas service to New Milford.

Council accepted a $5,100 proposal from a local contractor to fix the North Church Street Bridge. The street committee will oversee the work.
Gulick said, “I thought it would be a lot more. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Some cosmetic work on curbing was completed on the South Church Street bridge. The curbing was crumbling between the road and walkway and was fixed by the borough.

Councilwoman Barb James reported that work to alleviate drainage issues near the Church Street senior housing project was delayed but is expected to get underway mid-month.

Work on a catch basin was completed nearly two weeks ago by a contractor hired by Southwestern Energy.

Ainey said the borough doesn’t see a huge benefit from the natural gas industry in general but the work the company did on the catch basin was a “good benefit.” He suggested sending a letter of thanks to Southwestern.
Some residents reported concerns about an active “teen contingent” in the Midtown Park gazebo after dark. One council member also reported witnessing what looked like an “intentional intimidation” in the park.

Council reported a protracted court battle has reached its end. Council was notified by the solicitor that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had denied Wayne Bradley’s petition for the allowance of an appeal. Bradley had taken the borough and the zoning board to court in an effort to fight the construction of the senior apartments. The lower courts found in favor of the borough and the zoning hearing board; Bradley sought to appeal decisions made in the case.

The Parade of Lights, sponsored by the Columbia Hose Company, New Milford, will be held Saturday, Oct. 26. The parade steps off at 6:30 p.m. The fire company will also be hosting a costume contest in Midtown Park at 5:30 p.m. There will also be a haunted house and snacks.