BRIDGEPORT– — The Logan Township Council discussed the community’s major tax increase at their meeting on June 21 with a debate starting when Council was asked for an explanation during the public portion of the meeting.
Logan Mayor Frank Minor recalled that the town’s problem began when Keystone Cogeneration Company notified Logan Township that they wanted to renegotiate an existing pilot agreement. Logan would be losing $2 million of their revenue as a result.
Councilmember Stephen Dougherty was the only one who voted against the tax increase. Dougherty said he discussed budget alternatives with Administrator Lyman Barnes, while Minor and Deputy Mayor Chris Morris felt the matter should have been discussed at the Township’s June 1 budget meeting. Dougherty countered that he was not responsible for giving his opinions to Council.
“There was no way we could cut $2 million without having a significant impact on our residents,” Minor stated. “The $2 million would have affected our police department and public works.” Morris added, “The $2 million represents our entire police force.”
Barnes explained that he and CFO Rob Best met with two councilmembers at a time and later the mayor before any budget meetings would take place. That way there would not be a quorum, he continued.
“There was good discussion at the June 1 meeting,” Barnes related. “I offered to eliminate my own position and that of CFO Best.” The administrator added that the renegotiation took an unstable revenue source and made it stable.
Minor explained the timeline of the events. “Fortunately, based on our conservative handling of the township finances, our tax rate was low as we had not had a significant tax increase during the 12 years that I have been in office. We also had surplus from previous years that we were able to use to keep the taxes down as much as we could, but it was still not enough to avoid an increase.”
“We examined everything in the budget, but there was nothing that we could reasonably cut that would make a dent in the increase without severely impacting essential services,” Minor continued. “Despite our best efforts, the township portion of the property tax bill will go from 10 percent of the bill to 20 percent of the bill.”
“This means that residents will see an approximate 10 percent increase in their overall property taxes,” Minor clarified. “This is certainly not the doubling of taxes some are claiming, but still not something we are happy about. Those who choose to criticize the increase, without offering a viable alternative, are just not being honest with the Logan residents.”
Minor promised that he and other councilmembers will continue to look for ways to reduce taxes, and welcomed suggestions from the public.
In resolutions, Council approved liquor licenses to Applebee’s, Holiday Inn, Liquor Mart, Village Pub, Raccoon Creek Boat Club and Townplace Suites by Marriott for the period of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
They also authorized a shared services agreement with Harrison Township for solid waste and recycling collection and marketing services.
For Public Works, Superintendent Mike Riley reported that his department had installed new backboards for the basketball courts at Township Line Park, and planted flowers at the library.
In his Police report, Lt. Joseph Flatley listed 1,615 calls to service for the Logan Police in May, along with 32 arrests and 297 traffic summonses. Flatley reported that a number of officers, including himself, had attended classes dealing with child abduction and AMBER Alerts.
Council also accepted a letter of resignation from Marva West as a member of the town’s Planning Board. Minor thanked West for her service in many capacities to the community.
Earlier in the meeting, Minor read a proclamation honoring the memory of 43-year Logan Township resident Warren Jay Rodgers who passed away in May. Rodgers was a former Councilmember and a Deputy Mayor.
“I appreciate everything he did to help the community,” Morris praised. “He was a big part of it.” Dougherty said he used to see Rodgers every Sunday at church, and would miss him.
Minor called Rodgers “Mr. Logan.” “He was everywhere, and participated in everything,” Minor recalled. “He will be missed.”
The mayor added that Council may be considering a memorial for Rodgers. Minor suggested a bench, or a plaque at the tennis courts.
— by Robert Holt