MICKLETON– At their meeting on March 24, the East Greenwich Township Committee introduced a balanced 2015 budget.
Homes assessed at the town’s average of $267,359 would now be paying around $12 more each month, according to East Greenwich CFO Robert Law. “We do have a tax increase, but we have shown a lot of savings,” Law observed. “We are within our two percent levy cap and our appropriations cap.”
Law added that the community’s surplus saw an increase from about $81,000 in 2014 to about $669,000 by the end of the year. He noted that East Greenwich wouldn’t be using any of its surplus for 2015.
The Committee presented the budget five months earlier than last year, when it was introduced in July.
Committeeman Stephen Bottiglieri said making hard decisions and reworking the town’s debt has allowed East Greenwich to reap its financial rewards. He also cited the town’s shared service agreements for its progress.
“We paid our debts off and got them done,” pointed out Mayor Dale Archer. “That’s why we are able to present a balanced budget.”
The Committee also passed an ordinance that allows East Greenwich to exceed municipal budget limits, and authorizes the establishment of a cap bank. “You’re allowed to use a certain amount of money,” Bottiglieri explained. “If you don’t use it all, you’re allowed to use it in another year.”
Elsewhere, the Committee sent a 30 day notice to the bonding company for The Gatherings at East Greenwich developer, Beazer Homes, due to uncompleted work. Gatherings Homeowners Association President Meg Cossaboon has attended Committee meetings for months, pointing out major drainage problems and other issues at The Gatherings.
She says Beazer has not responded to her requests. Cossaboon said there are problems with the community pool, and if they are not addressed, the pool may not open on time. Gatherings Board of Trustees Member Frank Cossaboon added, “We’re going to ask that these bonded items be taken care of in a timely way.”
Beazer representative Bill Ryan said the developer has an action plan in place, and is committed to getting the project finished with the goal of getting the bond released.
The developer responded to the Committee’s 30-day notice by asking them in a letter to rescind the notice. Archer described Beazer’s letter as “arrogant,” and said open communication was needed across the board.
Bottiglieri proposed to authorize Solicitor Mark Shoemaker to send Beazer a 10 day notice that they would take necessary action if the developer did not comply with the engineer’s directives. “I would not rescind the 30 day notice,” Bottiglieri stated. “We didn’t get any action out of Beazer until we sent it.”
Deputy Mayor Jim Philbin talked about the patience of the HOA members. “I’ve never seen an HOA more passionate about their community,” Philbin said. “They care. We’re their last line of defense.”
The Committee also announced that Pulti Homes and the HOAs of Amherst Farms and Amherst Meadows have come to an agreement on a bond settlement. “This township is going to go back in time and fix what should have been done in the first place,” mentioned Archer.
Also, East Greenwich is looking to have more success in shared services with a new five year agreement with Logan Township for trash and recycling collection. Archer pointed out that it currently costs East Greenwich $12.77 per household to collect trash. “We charge Wenonah $9.73, while Logan will charge us $9.00.”
East Greenwich began collecting trash in house in 2011, but expenses and truck maintenance made that a losing proposition.
“Every way I look at it, there’s no way we can save money collecting trash in house,” Bottiglieri remarked. “We have benefitted from shared services over the past year, and I am proud to make this business model a reality,” added Archer.
The mayor projected East Greenwich’s savings at $122,000 a year with the new deal. The community’s trash collection contract with Wenonah expires at the year’s end.