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West Donegal Plans for Tax Increase for 2020

West Donegal Township supervisors voted 4-1 to advertise a proposed 12.5% property tax rate increase, with the dissenting vote coming from a supervisor who said he would not support a tax increase and the addition of one person to the public works crew.

The increase is from 1.6 mills to 1.8 mills, or from $160 to $180 for every $100,000 in assessed value. It is the township’s first increase in years.

Without a tax increase and with a new public works employee, the township had a projected deficit of $259,572. With the tax increase, that is cut to a deficit of $124,461.11.

“I’m not going to vote for a tax increase and hiring another employee,” Supervisor Douglas Hottenstein said.

Supervisor-elect Ralph Horne, speaking from the audience, questioned why the township would plan for a budget with a deficit.

“It’s not the federal government,” Horne said. “Why would we want to operate with a deficit?”

Both Hottenstein and Township Manager John O. Yoder III said the township’s revenues have historically come in higher than budgeted and its expenses have been lower than budgeted, allowing it to budget for a deficit but to not actually end up spending more money than it takes in.

In other business, Yoder gave a report on the recent meeting of the Lancaster County Association of Township Supervisors. Major items discussed were a mandate from the state to reduce sediment in tributaries of the Susquehanna River and frustration with how the state is administering that as well as funding for the Lancaster County Drug Task Force. The association passed a resolution calling for the county to completely fund the task force rather than asking for donations from municipalities. Yoder said townships hope the newly elected district attorney and county commissioners will be able to bury the hatchet and work things out.

“We won’t know until sometime next year whether anything will come from that,” Yoder said of funding for the drug task force.

Also at the meeting, Horne told supervisors that Newville Road residents are bothered by the historic trains that run at Stone Gables Estate and do not want what he called “an amusement park” by their homes. He said train whistles create a big noise nuisance and said a zoning change sought by Stone Gables will be opposed by Newville Road residents.

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