LOWER MILFORD – Supervisors and local residents here shared their views on the wisdom, or folly, of a controversial measure cutting police staff in 2011 on Thursday night.
Supervisor Michael Snovitch spoke in support of the budget cuts, assuring residents that “there is nothing in this budget we could put back in” without putting the township in the red in 2011. As it is, the proposed cuts of one full-time road crew member and two part-time police officers will not keep Lower Milford out of fiscal danger, according to Snovitch. He said that by the middle of 2011 the board of supervisors may very likely need to make further changes to balance the budget. While he and fellow supervisors Donna Wright and William Roy said a tax increase is off the table for this year, none of them could deny that it may be necessary to raise taxes next year.
Constable and former Lower Milford Chief of Police, Jeffrey Tapler, spoke out against the cuts, advising that according to his calculations there were tens of thousands of unused dollars in the 2011 budget that could be spent to strengthen public safety in Lower Milford. He denied that the cost of two part-time police officers would force a tax increase. However, Tapler did say taxes could go up by as much as 2 mills due to the money spent on quarry-related litigation.
Chief of Police John Dondero added a note of clarification regarding police protection for Lower Milford Elementary School. According to Dondero, the school district currently looks to the Lower Milford Police Department as the primary protectors of the school. If the board of supervisors makes its proposed cuts in police staffing, however, Dondero said the relationship between the school and the township police force may need to change.
In other budget-related news, the board of supervisors declined to make a contribution to the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy. All three supervisors agreed that money was too tight to consider an additional expense to the township. According to Wright, Lower Milford Township has not historically given money to this conservancy. However, the board did express a desire to help this valuable organization and made several proposals of ways they could help out at no cost to taxpayers.
The Southern Lehigh Public Library’s representative for Lower Milford, Arthur Roth, came before the board to offer a free bookdrop to better serve residents in Lower Milford. According to Roth, the library recently purchased a new bookdrop and is looking to place its old, spare bookdrop somewhere in the area. The Lower Milford Township Municipal Building was chosen as the best location due to its distance from the library. When supervisors asked, “what’s the catch?” Roth assured them that the library staff would install and/or remove the bookdrop at no cost to the township. If installed, Roth said library staff would pick up books twice per week. Books placed in the bookdrop before pickup would not be considered overdue, Roth said, just like at the main bookdrop in Center Valley.
Supervisors reiterated that they are welcoming letters of interest from residents who wish to serve on the township’s committees. Letters are due to the township office no later than Dec. 16. Wright said there are openings on the planning commission, recreation and open space board, zoning hearing board, and historical commission.
The next Lower Milford Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. The board is expected to cast its final vote on the 2011 budget at that time.