Although Ligonier Township officials aren’t expecting a surplus in the 2022 budget, they’re not planning a tax hike either.

The township’s board of supervisors at its Nov. 9 meeting unanimously passed a resolution setting the 2022 real estate tax rate at 5 mills.

One mill brings Ligonier Township about $97,500 in revenue.

The supervisors intend to adopt the nearly $2.2 million balanced budget at their Dec. 14 meeting. The 10-page document is available for public review on the township’s website and at the municipal complex on Route 711 North.

This is the first balanced budget that Ligonier Township has prepared in a few years, according to finance officer Bethany Caldwell, who spoke to the Bulletin by phone about the proceedings of the supervisors’ meeting.

This was primarily due to the township transferring over $20,000 from its general fund reserves, but also from managing expenses like the township’s allocation to the Ligonier Valley Police Department, which is projected at the same level as 2021.

The supervisors saw an earlier version of the 2022 budget in October, which at the time estimated an almost $132,000 deficit for 2022. Grass Root Solutions, the consulting firm that is currently conducting an operational study of Ligonier Township, prepared the prior document.

The township’s finance committee has since revamped that report, Caldwell said.

In comparison, Ligonier Township faced a six-figure deficit in 2021 even after raising taxes by one mill. Budget shortfalls from 2018 to 2021 were covered by the general fund balance, according to the 2022 draft document.

The current year may end on a better financial note than originally forecasted. Although the township had higher than planned costs in 2021, such as fleet repairs, it also received more amusement and real estate transfer taxes than expected, according to Caldwell.

The supervisors have also received Grass Root Solution’s first draft of its Strategic Management Planning Program (STMP) report. Township manager Terry Carcella briefed the board on several highlights in the 56-page analysis, although staff will be meeting with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which oversees the STMP program, before finalizing the document.

The STMP report gives a good financial picture of where Ligonier Township is headed in the next five years, Carcella told the Bulletin over the phone.

The draft report also shows how the township has historically reduced expenses, according to Carcella. He noted that total legal bills have decreased from $79,000 in 2016 to $44,000 in 2020 and that engineering costs were also much higher five years ago with bridge projects.

Supervisor Stephanie Verna asked during the meeting why the STMP report did not include grants. According to Caldwell, the consulting firm is using base revenue and expenses for its financial projections and is looking at recurring rather than extraordinary income.

In other business, the supervisors voted to approve a five-year extension of the charter agreement for the Ligonier Valley Police Department (LVPD). Ligonier Borough Council will also have to approve the extension.

The Ligonier Valley Endowment has awarded the LVPD with a $16,054 grant that will fund seven laptop computers for its vehicles, another technology investment that follows new body-worn cameras and records management software that the force has implemented over the past two years.

Caldwell said the township should find out in January if its Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grant application to upgrade the police vehicle cameras was successful.

Police Chief John Berger also recognized four Ligonier Township residents who on Oct. 6 helped save the life of a seriously injured man who fell over an embankment. Berger presented two of the four recipients — Jason Fisher, Jeffrey Rhodes, Chad McMullen and Ryan Johnson — who were present at the meeting with certificates acknowledging their heroism.

The supervisors also unanimously approved three subdivision plans recommended by the planning commission last month.

Jill Gregorich seeks to divide her 7.61-acre tract at the corner of Ann Roberts Road and Route 271, separate an existing dwelling and septic system onto one lot, and create a second, non-buildable lot for silviculture purposes.

David and Kelley Piper want to create a five-acre buildable lot out of their 19.4 acres on Poplar Hill Lane, which straddles Ligonier and Cook townships.

A subdivision plan for the Outside In School of Experiential Education in Bolivar creates a flag lot of five acres out of its 120-acre property slated to be sold to Alan Smith, who wants to build a new house on the land. The new parcel would satisfy the required minimum 50-foot right-of-way along Wineland Road.

A fourth recommended subdivision and side lot addition plan for Girard and Laurie Tibbott was deferred as the applicants were not ready to move forward.

Netflix will be visiting Ligonier Township in late November and December to film scenes for The Pale Blue Eye, a 19th-century murder mystery starring Christian Bale and Robert Duvall.

The Pittsburgh Film Office notified officials of the company’s plans to film on private property near Compass Inn and Penguin Court. While the production will be low impact, the police department will assist with traffic control if needed.

The supervisors granted Dean Banko’s request to host a 5K race on the Ligonier Valley Trail on Sunday, Jan. 2 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The board’s approval is subject to Ligonier Borough’s approval plus liability coverage for the event.

The board recognized township employee Lenny Mulheren for his long career as he is retiring after 21 years with the public works department.

Supervisor Dan Resenic, who was elected to a new six-year term in the Nov. 2 general election, also thanked residents for their votes and said he would serve the public’s interest.

The supervisors are scheduled to meet again this month at a 4:30 p.m. work session on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

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