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Budget version OK'd by Council

October 29, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council on Tuesday night moved a step closer to raising real estate taxes for the first time in 14 years by giving preliminary approval to the 2004 budget.

The proposed budget would raise real estate taxes 4.8 mills to 17 mills and raise approximately $720,000 in new revenues for the general fund, according to a copy of the budget. That would raise real estate tax revenues from about $1.8 million for the current year to about $2.5 million in 2004, or about 23 percent of general fund revenues.

For the owner of a house with a market value of $100,000, about the average in the borough, the increase would mean an additional $82 a year in real estate property taxes, Borough Manager Eric Oyer told the council when he introduced his recommendation two weeks ago.

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Even with the tax increase, the borough will have to take about $430,000 out of cash reserves to balance revenues against expenditures of approximately $8.2 million in the general fund.

The council voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to the budget without discussion.

The largest expenditures in the general fund are for police at $2.9 million; fire, ambulance and code enforcement at $2.1 million; the highway, traffic and street lighting departments at $1.2 million; and recreation at $913,000, according to the budget.

Residents also will see a 15 percent increase in sewer fees next year, meaning the average residential bill will increase from $14.32 to $16.47 next year. Rate restructuring for electric customers is recommended in the budget.

The projected budget for the borough is approximately $63.7 million, although net spending for the year would be about $48 million.

Oyer did tell council members there are a number of projects scheduled next year for which the borough received approximately $7 million in state and federal grants. Included among those are the extension of Norland Avenue and a rail-trail project downtown.

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