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West Donegal Eyes No Tax Increase, But Higher Trash Fee in 2019

West Donegal Township Manager John Yoder said no property tax increase is expected in 2019, but increases in hauling costs and disposal fees mean a larger trash collection fee is being proposed.

The current fee of $200 a year, with a $10 discount if it is paid all at the beginning of the year instead of in quarterly installments, has been in place for more than 10 years. Yoder said at the township meeting on Monday, Oct. 8, that the proposed increase would be $230 a year, again with a $10 discount for paying all at the beginning of the year.

Office Manager Jennifer Rabuck said the township recently got a bill for $2,500 from Columbia Borough for accepting yard waste from West Donegal going back to April. Rabuck said Columbia had neglected to bill West Donegal for the service since 2011 and nobody had noticed. Columbia disposes of the yard waste by composting it.

Also while discussing the budget, Yoder said Northwest Emergency Medical Services has withdrawn its request to serve all of West Donegal Township. Yoder told supervisors in September that part of the Rheems section of the township is in the area officially served by Susquehanna Valley Emergency Medical Services, but the headquarters of Northwest EMS is much closer, meaning Northwest EMS responds to about 90 percent of emergency calls there. Northwest EMS cannot solicit subscribers in the area since it does not officially serve it. But Yoder told supervisors at their Oct. 8 meeting that Susquehanna Valley was “not thrilled” with the proposal to change service areas and Northwest did not want to make waves.

Yoder suggested increasing the township’s payment to Northwest EMS from the current $10,000 a year to $17,000 in 2019 and cutting the payment to Susquehanna Valley. Supervisor Douglas Hottenstein suggested cutting the Susquehanna Valley payment to $2,500. No votes were taken on those figures, but no objections were raised to them.

In other business, David Abel, owner of Stone Gables Estate, gave a presentation on his plans for the property. Abel described his plans to rebuild 0.62 miles of railroad track that once ran through the property that carried Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train and to run a replica of the train on the track. He also described plans to put the collection from the now-closed National Christmas Center museum into the Belmont Barn, which is being reconstructed on his property. A life-sized wooden nativity sent from the National Christmas Center is to be on display at the Star Barn this Christmas, he said, adding that he aims to focus on the religious message of Christmas, which he said has been stolen by the secular world.

“It’s all about making Christ known to others,” Abel said.

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