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Chambersburg cuts tax hike

November 09, 2000

Chambersburg cuts tax hike



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council approved a preliminary 2001 budget Wednesday night that does not include a proposed tax increase announced last month.

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Since Borough Manager Eric Oyer unveiled the budget Oct. 11 with a .3 mill real estate tax increase that would raise $42,000, Council members have tried to come up with ways to juggle funds to avoid the first tax increase in 12 years.

A mill equals $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed real estate value.

The council eliminated a proposed position for a fire marshal and unanimously voted Wednesday to establish a policy that would drop the general fund cash balance from 15 percent of the year's total appropriations to a 10 to 15 percent range.

These measures eliminated the need for the tax increase to bolster the fund.

Both the fire marshal's position and the general fund policy sparked debates at council meetings after the budget was presented.

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Council members suggested the timing was not right to add a fire marshal because it planned an in-depth study of the entire department in 2001.

With that issue resolved, the council questioned its policy of keeping the general fund so high.

"What is the purpose for reserves in a budget?" asked Councilman William F. McLaughlin, finance chairman. "Nine years ago we had a 25 to 30 percent reserves."

McLaughlin pointed out at a recent meeting other municipalities operate with only a 5 percent budget reserve in the anticipation of unexpected expenses.

"Government was not established to accumulate and maintain pots of money that have no purpose," McLaughlin said.

He argued that a 5 percent reserve was adequate because many of the borough's unexpected expenses would be covered by its self-insurance.

"In that essence the budgetary reserve is kind of superfluous," he said.

The Borough Council has not raised taxes in 12 years but has dramatically reduced the size of the general fund to expand services and avoid tax hikes.

The preliminary budget will be available to the public to review for the next 30 days. The council will vote on it Dec. 13.

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