Council Rejects EIT, Amending Redevelopment Area pulled from Vote
The Morrisville Borough Council rejected a plan to implement a 1 percent Earned Income Tax on residents and non-residents in a 4 to 3 vote, at last weeks meeting and pulled a planned vote to amend the borough’s redevelopment area.
The EIT rejection will have an impact on 2022 budget discussions which started the day after the vote, in a series of public meetings which continue at the municipal building Monday and Tuesday nights beginning 6 p.m.
Council members Justin Bowers, Helen Hlahol, Mike Yager and Scott Robinson voted against levying the tax on residents and non-residents. while Council members Ted Parker, Robert Paul, and Nancy Sherlock voted to approve the tax.
Prior to the vote, a super majority of residents attending the meeting said they were against the implementation of the tax, however a large contingency of residents also showed up to express their displeasure with proposed plans to blight several properties surrounding Williamson Park and the planned extension of the redevelopment area which also includes the park area.
Melissa Johnson a resident of Park Avenue said she is against EIT, but understands the financial challenges the borough faces as it tries to come up with a 2022 fiscal budget.
I know you’re struggling to know where money is coming from. While we were hit with COVID-19 the city was hit also. I don’t think hitting out income anymore is the answer. We already pay enough taxes, Johnson said.
Rich B of Prospect Avenue said he was 100 percent opposed to the proposal.
The residents of Morrisville already pay too high taxes. We already pay the highest legal mill rate for the borough. You need to figure out this budget with what you already take from us, he said.
“Prove to us that you can manage our money for one year and then come back and ask us again” said West Maple Avenue resident John D.
There were two residents who said they supported the borough’s effort with implementing the tax, each for similar reasons.
Rezza Raman of 155 Hillcrest Avenue spoke for a few minutes about the proposed Williamson Park project, which he opposes, said about the EIT, no one likes to pay more taxes, but if we have to choose an evil, to get the town out of the whole its in right now, a tax is ok. Other towns have taxes and its going to be painful. Its less risky than taking the town generationally the wrong direction like approving the park project.
Borough Manager Judith Danko said prior to the vote there isn’t much left to cut from budget and its going to require some creativity on council’s part in the light of the vote to reject the tax.
We’ll be cutting things that effect the municipality” she said, as officials face an about $500 deficit.
After last weeks vote to nix the new tax, unfounded rumors circulated that a second council vote (actually third since 2020) would be scheduled during this weeks budget discussions.
Danko in response to questions from Lower Bucks Source, last week said a future vote on incorporating an EIT is a possibility.
“At our previous budget meeting I was directed to continue to review the proposed future budget and cut police, public works, and possibly office staff to have a balanced proposed 2022 budget. I was not directed on anything regarding the EIT. Although that does not negate from this issue possibly arising again from council members at future meetings,” she said.
Borough officials said a tax hike in 2022 seems imminent due to the EIT vote rejection.
In related council meeting news, a motion to extend the borough’s boundaries of the certified redevelopment plan was pulled from the agenda due to “procedural concerns,” officials said.
A majority of residents spoke out against the proposed plan even after it was pulled from the agenda, including Morrisville Little League officials.
The plan which is part of an overall redevelopment project was presented by J.W. McGrath, a developer and civic designer in 2019. Redevelopment at the park site has been a hot button topic for residents and little league officials since it was first proposed over three years ago.
Project plans- called the Williamson Park Town Square- are still in their own infancy stage but calls for the building of 500 luxury apartments, a hotel, retail shops, new dining areas and an amphitheater between the Trenton-Makes and Calhoun Street bridges.