Peters Township is not increasing its real estate tax rate for 2021.
According to information presented at Monday’s township council meeting, the rate will remain at 1.622 mills.
“Having said that, and regardless of what action council takes on projects for the upcoming year, I would anticipate that at this time next year, we will be proposing a property tax increase,” township manager Paul Lauer said. “It will be a modest increase, but I believe an increase will be required.”
The projects he referenced involve the development of a new municipal park, complete with an outdoor aquatic center, on the former Rolling Hills Country Club property off East McMurray Road.
As a result, the preliminary version of the township’s 2021 budget and capital improvement program shows totals of $33.70 million in expenditures against $20.37 million in revenues.
Bridging the gap, Lauer said, is money from bonds the township issued in 2019, plus a similar round of borrowing expected to occur in the coming year.
On Nov. 9, council awarded a $6.95 million contract to A. Liberoni Inc. of Plum Borough for the Rolling Hills Park project’s first phase, which includes constructing an access road and maintenance building, along with developing picnic pavilions and shelters.
In August, the township contracted with Kimmel Bogrette of Montgomery County to provide a conceptual plan, market assessment and the development of a business plan for the aquatic center, at a cost of $65,500.
Lauer said the annual township budget incorporates long-term planning initiatives, including the Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan, the document that calls for the development of public parks and a public swimming facility.
Making a large-scale investment in an aquatic center, though, has generated a divided response in the Peters Township community, even among council members, with most votes in items to move the project forward being approved 4-3. During the council meeting Monday, Lauer read four correspondences from local residents expressing opposition to spending toward the center.
Ronald Boocks of Bebout Road, who attended the public hearing portion of the meeting regarding the 2021 budget, also took a negative viewpoint, contending that less money would be spent paying for Peters residents’ memberships to the Upper St. Clair Community and Recreation Center.
“I’d like to see a cost-benefit ratio done on the aquatic center,” he said. “Whether you’re for it or against it, it should be able to be justified, and I haven’t seen enough justification.”
The 2021 preliminary budget is available at www.peterstownship.com.