Merger committee collects data

By NANCY WHYTE * - *

Data collection for and discussions about the possible merger of two local townships into a single combined municipality continues.

On Thursday, Aug. 3, the Kilbuck Township and Ohio Township Merger Committee met at the Kilbuck Municipal Building. The merger committee is comprised of both the Ohio and Kilbuck Township supervisors, their respective managers, and appointed citizen volunteers.

Michael Foreman, a local government policy specialist from the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, which is a part of the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, presented a preliminary draft version of data. The data, far from complete, presented various census, demographic and economic data. Ultimately, the final version of the report will be used to educate residents and provide information needed to make an informed decision concerning the proposed merger.

While contiguous, there are some interesting contrasts between the two townships.

Ohio Township is 6.8 square miles while Kilbuck Township is 2.5 square miles.

The 2010 population of Ohio Township was 4,757 residents compared with Kilbuck’s 697.

Ohio Township has 21.52 miles of municipally owned and maintained roads; Kilbuck has 6.32 miles.

In 2010, the median age of an Ohio Township resident was 38.2 years and Kilbuck’s was 46.9 years. In 2010, the percentage of the population aged 65 or older
was just nine percent in Ohio township and 19.9 percent in Kilbuck.

According to the 2010 census, Ohio Township had 1,557 families and the median household income was $102,212. Kilbuck Township had 201 families, and the median household income was $61,364.

In 2012, the assessed value of taxable property in Ohio Township was $700,214,464 and $66,506,926 in Kilbuck Township. The current millage rate is 2.29 mills in Ohio Township and 5.226 mills in Kilbuck Township.

During the meeting, an anticipated timeline of steps toward merger was developed.

Public meetings for Ohio and Kilbuck residents would most likely occur during the spring of 2018.

In mid-2018, the supervisors of each township would write an agreement to merge. The agreement would be a formal document that describes the structure, function, and organization of the merged community. Then, an ordinance to adopt the merger agreement would be approved.

The question of whether or not to merge would then be placed on the Nov. ballot.

If passed by the voters of both townships, the merger into one municipality would take effect in Jan., 2020.

One preliminary “guess-timate” of the economic impact of Kilbuck Township merging into Ohio Township showed positive results.

At the Wednesday, Aug. 2 meeting of Kilbuck Township supervisors Tom Tomaro, John Fader, and Jean Sebastien Valois, along with treasurer Harry Dilmore, a spreadsheet was devised that the anticipated results of Kilbuck Township’s revenues and expenses if the township merged into Ohio Township.

Some revenues Kilbuck currently receives would go down. As a merged municipality, it would have one rate. If Kilbuck’s 5.226 mills were to be dropped to Ohio’s 2.229 mills, less tax money would be received (and former Kilbuck residents would see significantly lower taxes.)

But many expenses would also go down. Insurance and upkeep/maintenance on the Kilbuck municipal building would be eliminated after the merger, if the no-longer-needed building was sold. The former-Kilbuck portion of tax collection, legal services, code enforcement and police protections would most likely decrease as well.

Additionally, at the time of merger, Kilbuck’s only long term obligation would be its police pension. Kilbuck would join Ohio township with no debt and approximately $300,000 in bank accounts.

While the spreadsheet calculations were preliminary, the financial gains were significant. Based on last week’s meeting, if the two townships merged, it is entirely possible that the Ohio Township of the merged community would save over $115,000 of the current combined expenses of Kilbuck and Ohio townships, see an increase in revenue, gain a building worth an estimated quarter of a million and acquire additional money in the bank.

At Thursday night’s meeting of the merger committee, Kilbuck Township officials presented their “guess”-timate. Then, it was requested that both townships examine the various category amounts of their budgets, in an attempt to determine more specifically the probable cost effects on both revenues and expenses of a merged municipality.