The Pike County Dispatch
By Wayne Witkowski
DINGMANS FERY -- Delaware Township supervisors are planning to set aside $215,000 -- the equivalent of two mills from property taxes -- pulled from unallocated existing taxpayer revenue in the 2022 budget for emergency medical services.
In the past, the township had set aside about $53,000 -- the equivalent of about a half mill -- for EMS services as needed.
The decision to raise the amount to $215,000, which came durirng a special meeting held in late September, was discussed during last Wednesday's budget workshop. The budget workshop followed the bi-monthly regular meeting.
That decision at the special meeting and a subsequent letter sent to the Pike County commissioners confirmed the new allocation by the Oct. 1 deadline to request a matched amount from the the Pike County Commissioners Emergency Medical Services Funding. Townships can apply for a match up to two mills.
Delaware Township has its own basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support ambulance services under the Delaware Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
"We would do this to spend money to help our EMS service be as good as it possibly can," said Supervisor Jane Neufeld, who also serves as township treasurer. "We have taken a big step toward that. ... This is a business that (typically) operates in the red."
The county has agreed to match up to two mills of municipal funding EMS, according to the plan announced by the county commissioners on July 27. In the case of Delaware Township, that two mills would equal about $215,000.
Neufeld explained that township money allocated for EMS does not have to come from a dedicated tax levy to be eligible for the county match. "It can come from many different sources (in the budget)," she said.
The county commissioners document reads that "municipalities are encouraged to fund their portion from the general fund, an EMS tax, grants, or a combination." It says "municipalities are encouraged to work with existing providers or contract service to continue or expand coverage."
That means that the funds set aside for EMS will not impact residents' tax rates. Property owners currently pay an 8.68 real estate tax allocation, 1.5 mills for the township's volunteer fire company services and 1.5 for its Recreation Committee's programs, which is about $160,000 available annually to each of the latter two categories.
In the county's proposal it says its matching allocation will:
• Be used to fund the primary municipal EMS provider, as shown on 911 call list. If a municipality has more than one primary provider, then the funds will be adjusted by percentage of coverage area.
• Be specifically used to provide services rather than infrastructure, i.e. paid staff, contracted service, expanded service.
The county will make payments on a quarterly basis.
American Rescue Plan (ARP) allocations from federal COVID-19 relief to the county also have helped the county commissioners offer their Emergency Medical Services Funding.
Resident Eleanore Speert at the workshop asked if the township will put up a referendum for residents' vote in the future to dedicate a tax levy for EMS. "Not yet," responded Supervisor Rick Koehler.
Neufeld said that a dedicated tax can be enacted without referendum up to .5 mills. Beyond that requires a voter referendum.
"We might look at doing a half-mill tax out of the 2022 budget," said Neufeld. That would replace the $53,000 that has been made available in the annual budget for at least the past four years. Or it can be a higher millage rate if approved by voter referendum.
There also has been about $8,000 set aside separately each year for ambulance fuel and workmen's compensation costs. "Residents are learning how important the ambulance business is," said Neufeld.
Neufeld said spending will hinge on DTVAC's record of response to 9-1-1 emergency calls and how well the organization is run. When ambulance corps President Carl Will reported an update at a meeting last month, supervisors asked for financial data. Neufeld said they have received the 2019 990 form tax records but still have not received 2020 data. Neufeld said they were told they will have 2020 data by the end of the year.
Speert asked if the county's Emergency Medical Services Funding will continue beyond this year.
"There has been discussion with the commissions and they feel very strongly that this (plan) will continue beyond a year," Neufeld said.
The budget workshop discussed the township Volunteer Fire Company and its Emergency Management and Neufeld said neither submitted any requests for additional funding.
The Dingmans Ferry Theatre and the Dingmans Ferry-Delaware Township Historical Society also were on the budget workshop agenda. Township historian and historical society President Tim Singleton discussed some of the society's needs, including requests to paint the outside of its building located inside Akenac Park and to fix the deteriorating outside deck as well as improving handicap accessibility. Singleton also requested $2,5000 for monthly lectures by acknowledged experts on historical aspects of the area as well as programs that would include a children's program. Those programs would take place from March through October before the building closes during winter months. Programs had been suspended for a while because of the pandemic.
During the regular workshop that precedes the regular meeting, supervisors discussed and later approved the Nov. 19 through Nov. 21 dates for the Dingmans Ferry Theatre's Beatles tribute show. Dennis Lee, head of the theatre, said he could arrange for a company to install heaters in the theatre cabin, located in Akenac Park, for the colder weather expected at that time, but asked for and received approval for the township to supply the propane.
Supervisors also approved a $94,447 payment to Sherwood Trucks for a 2022 Western Star truck, which includes a trade-in of a used township truck. They also approved a $64,700 payment to Watson Diesel Inc. for upfitting the Western Star truck and to pay Watson $10,150 for the purchase and installation of a plow on the new truck.
Supervisors also discussed a $1,0000 stipend for Matthew Light for his services as Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator . It was pointed out that George Beodeker receives a $2,000 stipend for serving as Emergency Management Coordinator. Supervisors during the regular meeting approved for Beodeker and Light to attend the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors' Fall Emergency Management Forum on Nov. 9 for $220, plus coverage of mileage to drive there and hotel costs.
Supervisor Koehler was appointed to fill, on a temporary basis, one of the three vacancies on the Recreation Committee after three committee members resigned recently. Two other candidates submitted letters of interest.
Township volunteer fire police were granted funding, not to exceed $1,100 to purchase six stream light flashlights ($661.44), six battery operated flares ($317.94), two 24 packs of C batters and two 24 packs of AA batteries.
Supervisors also approved distributing the $3,235.94 Highmark Blue Care rebate to township employees who paid into the plan during 2020.
They also moved to advertise for township grass mowing contracts for all facilities to a private company as has been done in the past. They said, in response to resident Speeert's question, that outsourcing the work instead of relegating it to township Department of Public Works employees has saved the township $13,000.
The township also is purchasing 20 tons of cold patch from Hanson Aggregates for $2,593.
Supervisors also approved a request by R. Hull to use the municipal building on Nov. 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a Thanksgiving Community Dinner for the needy.
Because of a lengthy executive session regarding Blue Ridge Cable and personnel matters, supervisors are holding another special meeting starting 6 p.m. on Oct. 20 on agenda items that they did not have time to cover, including the Recreation Committee. The next regular meeting on Oct. 27 will include a public hearing starting at 7:15 p.m. on a proposed Dilapidated Structure Ordinance. That meeting will be followed by the third and final budget workshop. After that time, the proposed budget will have a 30-day public review period before going to a ratification vote in December.