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Council approves tax hike for streets

December 02, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, PA. - The Waynesboro Borough Council held the line on raising taxes on the general fund budget, but council members Wednesday locked in 3 new mills over the next 10 years to taxpayers' bills to repair streets.

The council, on a motion by Dick George, chairman of the council's street committee, voted to borrow up to $1.3 million to be put into an account for street repairs, much like the separate budget account for street lights that shows up on taxpayers' bills.

The 3 mills will bring in about $165,000 a year to repay the note over a decade. They will cost the owner of an average-priced home in the borough about $50 a year more in property taxes, borough officials said.

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The borough's engineering department will come up with a priority list of streets in most need of repair. The work will run from complete reconstruction to overlaying the surface.

A recent street committee report said 46 percent of the borough's 97 streets need total reconstruction. Another 20 percent need immediate resurfacing.

Wednesday's vote was approved by all members except Councilman Andrew Benchoff.

Residents will see work being done on their streets and know that the council is doing something, several members said.

The members agreed that $1.3 million won't do all the streets and that all the money probably would be spent out over the next two years.

George earlier estimated it could cost up to $500,000 to reconstruct one block of one street.

Benchoff suggested the council wait a year and then explore the possibility of passing a bond issue large enough to pay for all of the needed street work. His suggestion received no support.

"My view is to get it started. Don't put it off any longer," George said.

The council approved a tentative 2005 budget Wednesday that calls for no tax hike, the result "of good financial planning," Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

During an initial budget session in October, the council looked at a proposed 2005 budget that would take 6.8 mills to finance.

At the time, Hamberger blamed rising health insurance premiums for borough employees and a big increase in the police department budget.

Hamberger said Wednesday that projected income from property transfer taxes from proposed housing developments and more money in wage taxes has brightened the budget picture for next year.

The council is expected to adopt the budget on Dec. 16.

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