Borough Commissioners introduce the 2018 municipal budget

Borough Commissioners introduced the 2018 municipal budget at the Tuesday, April 24, meeting.

Borough Commissioners introduced the 2018 municipal budget at the Tuesday, April 24, meeting. For the median assessed property of $448,481, the proposed 2018 local municipal tax levy will be $2,465, which is an increase of $50 over last year’s rate.

The total borough budget is proposed at $18.3 million, of which about $11.4 million will be raised in municipal property taxes. This represents a 2.09 increase from last year for property taxes, according to Commissioner Jeff Kasko. For the seventh year in a row, the borough anticipates flat state funding.

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“That’s about a $50 increase for the average assessed property value in town,” Kasko said.

According to Kasko, the $18.3 million funds a number of services, including new staff hires and personnel changes in the borough, and includes funds for debt service.

“Almost 30 percent (debt service) primarily due to Bancroft property acquisition costs, notes and bonds issued to purchase the property,” Kasko said.

Kasko said other priorities include police equipment and a number of public works and capital investments, including Centennial Field improvements, fire house building improvements and investing in a new library entrance.

“The library is 100 years old,” Kasko said.

Commissioners spent a lot of money the past few years making improvements, refurbishing the inside, updating wiring and plumbing, expanding the back corner of the building with an elevator, and making restrooms handicapped accessible. Although these updates have been made, the borough didn’t have funds to fix the front entrance, specifically the marble columns, which are old and unstable according to Kasko.

“So now we are funding that for safety and aesthetic reasons,” Kasko said. “It’s really completing the updating of the building.”

Borough officials also highlighted another “large part” of the annual capital budget concerning the borough’s road program, for which commissioners have funding set at $1.7 million for road construction and redesign.

However, according to the borough, it continues to use proceeds from the sale of the water and sewer utility several years back to offset debt service, which allows the borough to increase the amount of cash being used for the road program.

“The commissioners have tried hard to limit property tax increases to as close to zero as possible,” Kasko said.

Echoing Kasko’s sentiments, Mayor Neal Rochford said a lot of work went into the budget. “Some costs, you have a lot of control over and some you don’t,” Rochford added.

According to Kasko, costs for debt principal and interest, road re-construction, employee salaries and pensions, and capital equipment are all rising this year, which necessitates the $50 increase for the average residential property tax bill.

“I think this year’s municipal budget is responsible and it funds the essential programs, employees and services that taxpayers expect and that are necessary for an efficient and well-run municipal government,” Kasko said.

For more information on the budget, the borough advises residents to contact any commissioner or the borough administrator with questions at (856) 429–4700.

The public hearing will be at the second reading on Tuesday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m.

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