West Chester Township has another busy year planned in 2019! As in years past, West Chester will focus on what I call our ‘core competencies’ which are Police, Fire, Roads, Parks and Brookside Cemetery.
Our 2019 budget reflects West Chester’s ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility and continues to set as a priority West Chester’s position as a leading-edge community and one of “America’s Best Places to Live.” It also reflects a year of transformation and viewing operations through the lens of an organizational strategic plan, remaining true to the successful practices of the past while pursuing projects and initiatives to build upon the community’s sustainability, marketability and competitiveness.
As West Chester matures, it’s critical every effort be made to protect property values and sustain development. Goals which are key to our community’s future success are:
• Remaining focused on keeping West Chester’s economy strong by investing in infrastructure and community amenities,
• Promoting development and retaining a marketable workforce, and
• Preserving property values by encouraging property maintenance and livability.
It’s this Trustee’s view that in 2019 and beyond, it’s essential to view West Chester’s quality-of-life infrastructure and amenities in a transformative way to refresh its value and encourage an engaged citizenry and attract community minded corporate stakeholders. Fun fact, West Chester still has approximately 20% of all land identified as ‘commercial/industrial’ yet to develop!
West Chester’s proposed expenditures for 2019 total $49.3 million, which is an 8.8% increase from 2018 budgeted expenses of $45.3 million. Actual expenditures in 2018 were $38,021,238, or 16.1% less than originally budgeted. The increase in 2019 budgeted expenses are attributed to anticipated costs of public safety software, the addition of school resources officers (the cost of which is offset by payment from Lakota Schools) and the potential consideration of land banking opportunities (It’s the budgetary practice of West Chester to under estimate revenue and account for unanticipated expenditures in order to fund potential liabilities and be prepared for unforeseen circumstances or situations).
In 2019, more than $34.8 million in expenses are planned for in Police and Fire services which accounts for 70.6% of the overall Township budget for all operational funds. Taxpayers’ money invested in Police and Fire Services helps to prevent and reduce crime, prevent and fight fires, and extend lifesaving medical care. These exceptional services, in turn, help to protect property values, reduce the burden on taxpayers through reduced insurance rates, and make West Chester an attractive place to invest as a business.
More than $20 million in infrastructure improvements are proposed in 2019 from the Roads Funds and TIF districts. Infrastructure investment is critical to residents who rely on the local roadway system and for corporate investors who demand ease of access and location to increase profitability. Included in this $20 million project list is more than $14 million budgeted in TIF Funds for improvements to and beautification of the Union Centre Boulevard interchange. As a significant gateway to West Chester’s corporate community, it’s critical to continually invest to maintain its functionality and to aesthetically transform it to remain relevant in a dynamic economic climate. Another $3.15 million is budgeted for the 2019 Infrastructure Program (not including work by BCEO). These include:
• Paving approximately 10 miles of Township roads ($900,000 from Roads Funds and $1.2 million from TIF),
• $150,000 for slurry seal of 2.6 miles of roadway,
• $400,000 for repair/replacement of 27 sections of culvert pipe, and
• $500,000 for curb replacement
While public safety and infrastructure are critical to West Chester’s future as a leading-edge community, it’s also important West Chester be innovative in attracting the next generation of residents and entrepreneurs who are driven by the vibrancy, experiences, and aesthetics of a community.
In 2019, West Chester will engage residents and corporate stakeholders in the process of re-imagining and identifying the community vision for the future. A citizen survey, via National Citizen Survey, and engaging a volunteer ‘Vision Plan Task Force’ are priorities in the 2019-2020 Strategic Plan.
To create a community of the future responsive to the desires of the next generation, the significance of creating an aesthetically pleasing, active and innovative place in which to live, work and play, cannot be overlooked. By asking residents and business owners to share their desires for the community and incorporating those priorities into a Vision Plan, West Chester can strategically pilot a responsive course for our community’s future.
Moving forward, West Chester’s call to action must:
• Create opportunities,
• Capitalize and leverage our existing assets, and
• Expend resources in a manner that strives to enhance West Chester’s competitiveness, marketability and sustainability.
Doing these things, West Chester Township will differentiate itself from other communities in a positive way.