2014 budget could mean a community center for Tabernacle Township residents

Tabernacle Township has $850,000 budgeted for capital expenses in 2014, and with that, much of the committee’s April 14 workshop meeting was spent discussing the best way to spend it.

At the committee’s previous meeting, township administrator Doug Cramer said he was hopeful that the majority of the money would be spent on the repair of Sooy Place Road. Committeeman Richard Franzen asked the township to consider allocating some of the funds to the repair of Tabernacle’s community services building. The former emergency services building on Hawkin Road acts as the township’s community building. How much of the pie each project receives led to the lengthy discussion.

“We need to make a substantial investment in facilities that benefit the residents,” Committeeman Stephen Lee said. “We have to put our money where our mouth is. We can’t nickel and dime it. I’d like to see a substantial investment of $400,000 of this budget. The existing building, it’s an embarrassment to be frank and we need to make the investment.”

Franzen echoed Lee’s sentiment but did not commit to a specific number on how much should be allocated where.

“There are two projects we want to do, the building and the road. We need to see what the building is going to cost, but it would be a benefit to so many groups in the community,” Franzen said.

Cramer said previous estimates on the repair of Sooy Place Road have come in at approximately $675,000 but thought that number may be higher now.

“The question is how much is it going to take to get that building squared away and can we split that with the road. Sooy Place Road, it’s in pretty bad shape,” Mayor Joseph Barton said. “Can we take some out of that and get something done at the old squad building? We need to get an architect in there and see what the cost is going to be.”

Figuring out the cost of each project is the first step in deciding what’s next.

“My question is we don’t know how much the building improvements may cost, so I’d like to see the $400,000 contingent on what it would cost. We had a hard winter and a lot of the roads we didn’t anticipate fixing may need work,” Committeeman Joseph Yates said.

How the $850,000 capital expense budget is allocated is not an item that would cause the township to re-advertise the municipal budget or reschedule the public hearing.

In other news:

• For the third meeting in a row, the township committee continued line by line discussions on the municipal budget for 2014. Included in the budget is a 2 percent raise for all township employees. Franzen said the bump is more than deserved.

“The attitude of the people that work here fosters a good feeling about our township. We have a very friendly and very competent staff. I’m perfectly comfortable with the raise, and I wish it could be more,” Franzen said.

The public hearing for the 2014 municipal budget is scheduled for Monday, April 28 at 8 p.m. in town hall.