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Marlborough Discusses Financial Implications of Pandemic
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent

            Last week, the Marlborough Board of Supervisors heard about the possible ramifications of the coronavirus on taxes and the budget and addressed several other issues affecting the township.

            Township Secretary/Treasurer Marybeth Cody commented on the uncertainty created by the statewide shutdown and urged the supervisors to prepare now for a revenue shortfall.

            "My suggestion to the [Board of Supervisors] is to review the expenses and determine what spending can be deferred until the economy returns to some normalcy," Cody said, "although this will be difficult to do since all the departments work very efficiently and as economically as possible during ordinary times."

            Cody stated that the township's financial situation "looks good" at present, closely mirroring 2019's revenues. However, Cody expects that the next two quarters will see a decline in revenue, especially from the Earned Income Tax (EIT).

            In 2019, Marlborough took in $400,000 through the EIT. A thirty-percent drop in the EIT would cost the township $120,000.

            "We don't know how many people are employed, lost their jobs, we don't know what their [situations] are going to be," Cody stated.

            Another source of income, the Real Estate Transfer Tax, is already down significantly. Last year the tax brought in $71,000, including $6,000 in April of 2019. This April's total was $1,900.

            Cody predicted the township's 2020 balance sheet will look much different from what was planned.

            Tax Collector Mary Jacobs joined the semi-virtual meeting to discuss tax relief provisions, pointing out that Montgomery County is leaving the decision about tax extensions to each municipality.

            Locally, East Greenville and Red Hill have extended the face value/no penalty period until July 31 while Upper Hanover has extended to September 30. Pennsburg has decided not to lengthen the period at all and will start collecting penalties on July 1.

            "Do keep in mind that if we extend [property tax relief provisions] through July 31, we're getting into the discount period for the school, and the school has already let us know, through the Town and Country, that there's going to be a big increase this year," Mary Jacobs said.

            "So, I'm not sure I feel that [extending property tax relief provisions] is the best thing to do because then you're going to have people trying to come up with the extra monies for the school tax as well."

            Mary Jacobs urged Supervisors Billy Hurst, Brian Doremus and Bill Jacobs to follow Pennsburg's lead and hold fast to the current deadlines.

            "Just go to the end of June like we always do for the face value and then just begin the penalty period from July 1st to December 31st of the year," Mary Jacob's recommended. "This way it would be what they're used to."

            The tax collector reported that, as of May 13, there were 220 unpaid tax bills "which is pretty close to what we are every year at this time".

            The supervisors agreed with Mary Jacob's proposal and Marlborough will start charging penalties on July 1. The discount period still ends on May 31.

            Chief Darren Morgan said that the  Marlborough Police Department will follow the advice of the national organization and postpone National Night Out (NNO) which was scheduled to take place in August at St. John's in Sumneytown.

            Last year, the department organized a highly successful Night Out and was looking forward to its second annual event.

            While the national organization is looking at October or November for NNO, Morgan is unsure if that recommendation fits with his department.

            "There is a lot of planning that goes into our National Night Out, and I hate to do all this planning and then come September, us having to say: 'You know what? We're not going to have it.'"

            Morgan proposed replacing NNO this year with an open house or bike rodeo, events that would require much less planning and fundraising.

            "I definitely believe that we should have something," Morgan said.

            Morgan also commented on two incidents of trespassing that have been ongoing for the past month in the township. Morgan cited problems at Camp Garrison, the Boy Scouts campground in Marlborough.

            "It's my understanding from the ranger that those that are living along Upper Ridge in Bucks (County) and our township and Ziegler and Miller have been trespassing on Garrison's property. The property is properly posted; gates are up," Morgan reported.

            "Because of the problems we're having with vandalism back there, they just want the residents to understand that it is private property. Anybody that is trespassing, they do want to prosecute."

            There are also intruders on the PECO property in the same vicinity.

            "Same thing with the power lines running between Upper Ridge Road and Price Road. We're also having a major problem with trespassers back there, mainly Jeeps, Jeeps that are running from Price Road up to Upper Ridge now to the point where they're going around the gates on Upper Ridge. Now they're coming out in multiple spots and making a mess up there."

            PECO is going to step up security measures, including cameras. "They will be prosecuting anybody that they catch on their property," Morgan warned.

            Penalties could include summary citation, restitution or criminal misdemeanor charges.

            Recently, Marlborough Police did arrest four trespassers on the PECO property.

            The chief publically thanked Innovative Insurance Group of Green Lane for donating $500 to the police department in recognition of its service during the pandemic. Morgan will put the money into the department's technology fund.

            Morgan was granted permission to offer conditional letters of employment to two candidates for the position of part-time police officer, one male, one female. If hired, the latter would be Marlborough's first policewoman.

            Supervisor Bill Jacobs was appointed to the task of representing the board in collective bargaining with the police department. The department's contract expires on December 31, 2020.

            Harleysville EMS submitted a report showing that 62% of its April responses involved COVID-19.

            For June 2, Primary voting has been moved to Marlborough Elementary School at the behest of the Montgomery County Commissioners.

            The Marlborough supervisors extended their Declaration of Disaster until June 10, the date of the next supervisors meeting, or until Gov. Tom Wolf lifts state restrictions.





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