During Monday night’s meeting, Quakertown Borough Council provided a detailed overview of the 2014 budget and proposed plans for the next year with focus remaining on economic development. Borough Vice President Don Rosenberger offered a breakdown of the $28.5 million proposed budget and key items of interest for taxpayers, noting that “there is no planned increase in utility rates or taxes for 2014.”
Budget items that come with a hefty price tag include replacement of all electric meters at residences and businesses in the borough, as well as a four-year plan to replace water and sewer meters. Rosenberger explained that borrowing a portion or all of the $773,000 estimated for the project will mean no increase in electric rates for customers.
In addition, council is looking to make several upgrades to borough hall, such as better security features, as the building is home to the police department; an elevator; a new HVAC unit; and a Sally port, which is a holding area for individuals under arrest. The proposed cost for the upgrades is expected to be around $857,000.
Council also plans to remove all parking meters and install a parking kiosk, which would be centrally located in the downtown parking area. The project would fall under the $370,000 budgeted for the public works equipment purchases, which also includes a new street sweeper and several other items.
One of the largest components of the borough’s budget is police services, which totals $1.4 million and includes salaries for the 18 members of the force.
Although the borough will have a $3 million deficit coming into 2014, Rosenberger explained that the cash reserve cushion is about $10 million and will offset the deficit amount, which in turn allows for no tax increase to residents.
In other business, council briefly discussed traffic data collected from a temporary multi-way stop at Ninth and Main streets. A temporary four-way stop has been installed at the intersection for the last two months due to construction in the area.
Councilman Mike Johnson reviewed a survey of residents in the area of the four-way stop, stating, “About 87 percent of the 30 residents who participated in the survey say they are in favor of a permanent four-way stop at Ninth and Main streets.”
However, Neal Koch, a resident of Ninth Street for the past 32 years, is opposed to the permanent stop at the intersection because he is concerned that it may slow down police and fire response. He explained that in his 32 years at the location there have only been a handful of accidents and feels there are other locations that could benefit more from a four-way stop.
Borough Manager Scott McElree said, “There have been many calls in the past from residents questioning the need for a multi-way stop at this intersection. PennDOT requirements say this location may be viable for a four-way stop.”
Council plans to further discuss the matter and vote on the topic at their next borough meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. Council will also vote on the 2014 budget at the meeting.